Ministers and Chapel owners Donald and Evelyn Knapp have been married for 47 years and believe in natural marriage between one man and one woman. But now, because they exercised their religious liberties and opted not to perform a same-sex wedding ceremony, they face fines and even jail time.
“This is an outrageous violation of religious liberty, and the city officials targeting the Knapps need to withdraw all fines and threats and issue an immediate apology,” said American Family Association (AFA, www.afa.net) President Tim Wildmon. “These officials are an insult to our Constitution and an insult to our Declaration of Independence. On top of it all, voters’ voices are being completely ignored.
“Have we reached a point in this nation when a couple like the Knapps can no longer realize the American dream, own their own business and keep their faith at the same time?” Wildmon continued. “This governmental threat against the Knapps’ is flatly unacceptable and something a freedom-loving people will not stand for. We will stand with Donald and Evelyn, pray for them and encourage other Christians to do the same. We must also keep in mind that what’s happening to the Knapps can happen to any of us who believe in natural marriage, in any state. Christians are being targeted, and unless we take a stand, religious liberty will soon be relegated to our nation’s history. I think more people than the government realizes are willing to do whatever it takes to defend their faith and that the threat of jail time doesn’t faze most of us. If we aren’t this passionate about our faith then it’s not even worth defending. We will be sure to keep AFA constituents informed and continue to take a stand for their own religious liberty as well as that of America.”
The Knapps’ troubles began over the weekend when a same-sex couple asked to be married at the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel, which Donald and Evelyn own in Idaho and where they’ve performed wedding ceremonies since 1989. Christians and ordained ministers, the Knapps declined to perform the homosexual wedding ceremony because of their religious beliefs and their faith.
That seems like a cut-and-dry decision, but the city of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, has a non-discrimination statute that includes sexual orientation and gender identity. Because the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Idaho’s constitutional marriage amendment defining marriage as a union of a man and woman, the statute is being enforced—and Don and Evelyn are paying the price. City officials told the Knapps they would be subject to fines and even jail time if they didn’t perform the wedding ceremony.
Reporting on the matter were Alliance Defending Freedom and the Heritage Foundation on its “Daily Signal” web site. Attorneys representing the Knapps say the case is a blatant example of government coercion, stating that just because the government recognizes same-sex marriages doesn’t mean citizens, even business owners, should be forced to do so.
Alliance Defending Freedom filed a motion on behalf of the Knapps arguing that their First and 14th Amendment rights are being violated, adding that the Knapps’ right to due process and equal protection were also being squashed.
Wildmon added that issues such as marriage and religious liberties will be important on Election Day on November 4. AFA is encouraging voters to take their values into account at the ballot box.