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Judicial Magicians on the Seventh Circuit: Hively v. Ivy Tech

Failing to gain enough popular support for its radical social agenda, the progressive Left routinely attempts to skirt the legislative process and implement its policies through judicial fiat. The latest example of this strategy was on display last month in the case of Hively v. Ivy Tech.

Kimberly Hively, an open lesbian and adjunct professor at Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana, repeatedly sought but was denied an opportunity to interview for full-time employment at the college. Naturally, she filed suit, claiming that Ivy Tech discriminated against her based on her sexual orientation.

Undeterred by the fact that federal law does not prohibit sexual orientation discrimination, Hively sued under Title VII, the statute that forbids sex discrimination. The law states in part:

“It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer . . . to discriminate against any individual . . . because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”

The phrase “sexual orientation” is conspicuously absent from this provision. Nonetheless, Hively insisted that Title VII forbids employers from making decisions based on an employee’s sexual orientation because the term “sex” covers sexual orientation. Nearly a dozen plaintiffs before Hively (and likely dozens more) have made a similar argument in courts across the country, though most judges have found it unconvincing. Hively, however, managed to find a sympathetic ear at the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the highest federal court in the circuit covering Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, and a sister circuit to the much-maligned and regularly overturned Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Dismissing not only the court’s own prior rulings but the rulings of all nine federal circuit courts to consider the matter, a majority of judges on the Seventh Circuit held that Hively could sue for sexual orientation discrimination under Title VII. Like pulling rabbits out of hats, these magicians in judges’ robes conjured up a law that forbids sexual orientation discrimination where a law forbidding only sex discrimination exists. A quick examination of the majority’s argument reveals the deceitful method behind the “magic.”

The Trick

So how does the majority equate sex discrimination with sexual orientation discrimination? Writing for the majority, Chief Judge Diane Wood begins by accepting as true Hively’s allegation that Ivy Tech refused to interview her because she is a homosexual. So far, so good.[1]  Next, however, Wood claims that, had Hively been a man married to a woman rather than a woman married to a woman, Ivy Tech would not have refused to interview her for a promotion. Because Ivy Tech treated a female employee differently from the way it treats male employees, Hively’s case boils down to a classic example of sex-based discrimination. Or so it would seem.

The problem is that the language used in the law is not ambiguous. As dissenting Judge Diane Sykes observes, no reasonable, English-speaking individual could read the law and conclude that it bans discrimination because of sexual orientation. Therefore, the court should not have reached beyond the plain meaning of the language to interpret the statute.

Yet because a plain reading of the law would reach a result that she personally found objectionable, Wood went to create ambiguity where none existed. To mask her dishonest interpretive method, she surreptitiously shifts the audience’s attention from the identity trait at issue (homosexuality) to an activity (intimate association with women).

Pulling Back the Curtain

As any reasonable person in this day and age could tell you, identifying as a homosexual is not the same as intimately associating with a person of the same sex. While one may result in the other, the two are conceptually distinct; an individual may identify as a homosexual—that is, someone who is romantically and sexually attracted to members of the same sex—without being in an actual relationship with a member of the same sex. Moreover, one would imagine that if Ivy Tech did object to hiring or promoting homosexual individuals, it would not matter if that individual was married or dating a same-sex individual; the objectionable trait alone (being gay) would suffice. By shifting focus from sexual orientation to intimate association, Wood is then able to draw a comparison between Hively and a straight, male employee that would lead a less-than-attentive reader to conclude that sex discrimination has taken place.

Leftist judges habitually apply this kind of reasoning in similar cases. Take the case of Barronelle Stutzman, who was sued by a longtime customer when she declined to serve as a florist for his upcoming same-sex wedding, or Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, who incurred the wrath of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries when they declined to bake a custom cake for a gay couple’s wedding ceremony. In both suits, the small business owners did not object to their customers’ homosexuality, but to participating in a ceremony solemnizing an arrangement that offended their personal beliefs.

Yet like the Seventh Circuit in Hively, the Washington Supreme Court and the Oregon Court of Appeals deliberately ignored the difference between the trait and the activity and ruled against the small business owners. These federal judges—each of whom swore to uphold the rule of law—simply decided that their personal views take precedence over a plain reading of the statute. Thanks to their dishonest interpretive methods, small business owners across the country are now forced to choose between their conscience and their livelihood.

Unfortunately, Ivy Tech has announced that it will not appeal, meaning that the Supreme Court will not have an opportunity to correct the Seventh Circuit’s flawed logic in the near future. However, given the existing circuit split and the fact that the notoriously Left-leaning Ninth Circuit has yet to consider the matter, there is still a good chance that the Court will have that opportunity in the years to come.

 

[1] At the dismissal motion stage, the court accepts that the claims brought by the Plaintiff are true to determine whether the Plaintiff has a legitimate legal complaint.


Christina is a freelance legal blogger from the “other” Washington (Washington, D.C.). She received her law degree from American University and her undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame.

We Don’t Give Up Our Inalienable Rights When We Go Into Business

Surprisingly – or maybe not – the decision made by the Washington State Supreme Court regarding Arlene’s Flowers last month went widely unreported. Although the Court’s decision was upsetting to religious liberty supporters, the outcome was already expected by most when the Attorney General’s crusade against Barronelle Stutzman was first made public. Washington State has been overstepping its legitimate jurisdiction for years now, and many pro-family advocates already understand that we are fighting an uphill battle. What is amazing, though, isn’t the decision itself, but the arguments I saw on social media in favor of the Court’s decision.

I came across some interesting things when reading through an online comment thread this morning. First, people don’t seem to understand the difference between a privately owned business and a publicly owned business. Their argument falsely assumes that a business operated out of the privacy of a home on a referral basis would have the right to deny service; however, should the entrepreneur choose to open a shop open to the public, the owner’s rights must be jettisoned. But in reality, operating a business that is open to the public does not mean it is a “publicly owned business” or that the business owner’s rights should be subjected to the demands of the mob.

There are several different types of business structures. Sole proprietorship is the most common and refers to a business that is owned (and typically operated) by one person. This person usually sinks everything they own into their business. A proprietor is legally and financially responsible for their business; if, for example, a business is sued, the proprietor’s assets will be used to pay the damages. Another business arrangement is a partnership, in which two or more people enter into a business agreement and still retain full liability. Limited liability companies (LLCs) are structured similarly to a partnership, but such an arrangement provides some protection to the owners against accidents or lawsuits. There are also corporations which act as a separate entity from their owner(s) entirely. All of these businesses are private. The owners retain their rights. A person does not relinquish their fundamental, inalienable, constitutionally-protected rights when he or she enters into business.

The individual then tried to argue that refusing services based on politics is acceptable while refusing business based on conscience is somehow abhorrent. To someone looking at it from an objective, logical standpoint, this assertion makes little sense. Why is discrimination motivated out of political beliefs allowed when discrimination rooted in religious beliefs is not acceptable? If you’re going to decry religious discrimination, then you cannot reasonably support political discrimination.

Perhaps the most erroneous argument I heard on this thread was the claim that there are protected classes of citizens. These protected classes are groups of people who, because of various claims of racism, bigotry, sexism, and homophobia, claim to need additional protections under the law. This does a serious disservice to the LGBTQ community by essentially making them second-class citizens. One commentator refers to this as “the soft bigotry of low expectations,” meaning that some feel these groups need additional protections not afforded to other groups of people because the marginalized groups are helpless without those protections. The progressive Left uses these tactics to create dependence, exacerbating these issues to assemble a larger voting block which allows them to remain in office (and receive a substantial paycheck). In return, they promise to fight for societal validation and respect for those groups. In his dissent over the same-sex marriage decision, Justice Thomas said, “The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.”

Conservatives fight against these special protections because no one’s rights should be placed above those of another. It is man’s nature to have dissenting opinions. Everyone will never agree on everything, and it is not possible to have a society where no one’s feelings are hurt. But thankfully, we do live in a society where everyone is afforded the same rights under the law. Because government cannot protect the feelings of some without violating the rights of others, its role is to protect everyone’s religious liberty, conscience rights, and freedom of speech and association, even for those who the majority finds distasteful or offensive. Perhaps Thomas Jefferson put it best when he said, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…”

 

Kyli Erickson is a guest contributor to the FPIW Blog.

Barronelle Stutzman Hearing, Rally Scheduled for November 15

Barronelle Stutzman, the 72-year old floral artist and grandmother being sued by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the ACLU for exercising her constitutionally protected freedom to act consistent with her faith, will be in Court on Tuesday, November 15th as the Washington Supreme Court hears oral arguments.

Stutzman served her longtime friend and customer – and his partner – for nearly 10 years, but could not participate in and design floral arrangements for his same-sex ceremony because of her love of Jesus and his teachings about marriage. Barronelle faces losing everything she owns for acting consistent with her deeply held convictions.

The arguments begin at 9:00 am, but we will begin gathering at the Carlson Theatre at Bellevue College at 7:30 am. We recommend arriving early to get in line to ensure a seat. Some of us will remain outside for a peaceful prayer gathering during oral arguments. We will provide signs and refreshments. A debrief will take place after the arguments conclude with Barronelle (location TBD). Please bring your family and friends and join us in supporting Barronelle!

The Carlson Theatre is located at, 3000 Landerholm Circle SE, Bellevue, WA, 98007-6406.  You can let us know that you plan to attend by RSVPing to the rally Facebook event.

Think Progress: Muslims Awarded Damages While Christians are Fined

The case of the Muslim truck drivers who wouldn’t deliver beer is making Christian florists, bakeries, and photographers around the country cry foul.

In 2013, an Illinois trucking company called Star Transport fired two Muslim employees who refused to deliver alcohol.  The employees claimed that delivering alcohol would violate their religious beliefs about alcohol.

After two years of litigation, a jury awarded the drivers $240,000 in damages because their religious beliefs were violated by their employer.

The Obama Administration, through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, filed the lawsuit on the side of religious freedom on behalf of the employees.

Employers have long been required to make reasonable accommodations for their employees’ religious beliefs.  This has allowed Seventh Day Adventists to keep their jobs despite not working on Saturday and allowed Muslims to wear a hijab in the workplace despite uniform policies that would otherwise forbid it.

The principle is, “people shouldn’t be forced to choose between their faith and their income.”

And everyone nods their head in agreement.

Still, the reason the story of the Muslim truck drivers is remarkable (especially the fact that the Obama Administration took the side of the employees) is because of all the recent stories about governments working to force people to violate their beliefs in the course of their employment.

Here in Washington State, Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued a grandmother in her personal capacity because she did not feel she could decorate for a same-sex wedding.

The State of Oregon fined Aaron and Melissa Klein $135,000 because they declined to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.

A baker in Denver was sent to government retraining because he would not bake a cake supportive of same-sex ceremonies.

The principle of equal protection under the law requires the government to treat people who are similarly situated in a similar way.

It seems like the truck drivers, bakers, and florists are in similar situations. “They asked me to do something for my job I felt like I could not do.”

But one of them gets government aid while the others get sued.

The First Amendment’s guarantee to the free exercise of religion applies to the Muslim truck driver just as it does to the Christian florist.  No one disputes this.

No one disputes the idea that the right to decline to participate in events that violate your religious beliefs was once protected under the First Amendment either.

The difference, however, lies in the fact that state governments have declared a “compelling state interest” in ending discrimination based on “sexual orientation” and that law is now being interpreted to mean that florists and bakers must participate in same-sex ceremonies.

The effect of this interpretation of non-discrimination laws is that state legislatures have seized the authority to repeal constitutional rights.

The Muslim truck drivers are likely unaware their right to decline to deliver alcohol will disappear the moment Illinois bans discrimination against alcohol and those who drink it.

Just wait until some state declares a compelling state interest in eliminating hate speech.

Sarcasm may soon be illegal.

If your response to that development is, “I thought the First Amendment guaranteed the right to free speech,” leftists will look at you like you have a third eye.  “We’re protecting you from that, of course.”

The Constitution describes how to change the Constitution, but that process does not include, “Have your state legislature declare a compelling state interest in eliminating the constitutional right you find most offensive.”

But that’s how we’re operating now.  And a lot of us are naïve enough to call it progress.

Kennewick Debates Religious Freedom, Attorney General Misrepresents It

Last night, the Kennewick City Council discussed a non-binding resolution involving religious freedom in front of a standing room only crowd.  The resolution, sponsored by Kennewick City Councilman John Trumbo, calls on Attorney General Bob Ferguson to drop his lawsuit against Arlene’s Flowers and asks the legislature to protect conscience rights and religious freedom.

A similar resolution has also been introduced in the Pasco city Council by Councilman Bob Hoffman.

In advance of that committee meeting, Attorney General Bob Ferguson sent a letter to Mr. Trumbo and Mr. Hoffman that was published in the Tri-City Herald. 

That letter, the full text of which can be seen below, contains a number of statements that deserve a response. (larger light green text is excerpts from the letter)

[Barronelle Stutzman and her attorneys]  claim that Arlene’s Flowers should be allowed to serve those customers whom Ms. Stutzman’s religion approves of, and exclude those whom it does not.

It is hard to view this statement as anything other than willful dishonesty.  The Attorney General’s office has been litigating against Barronelle Stutzman for more than two years now.  In those two years, Barronelle Stutzman has repeatedly stated in depositions, in legal briefs, and in oral arguments that she was and is happy to serve people who identify as gay.  She has never denied service to someone because of their sexual orientation and she never will. She will sell flowers to gay people and even for gay weddings.  Her only objection is to providing floral services for a same-sex wedding, which would require her to be a personal participant in the wedding.

As the Supreme Court has long recognized, religious freedom is not the freedom to discriminate against others in the name of religion.

The Supreme Court has never taken this issue up.  Efforts by government to force people to be part of events they disagree with are very new because historically we have respected the rights of individuals not to be part of events they were uncomfortable with.  The New Mexico Supreme Court said that a photographer could be forced to take pictures of a same-sex wedding, but a Kentucky Court recently acknowledged that a printer has the right to decline to print t-shirts for a gay pride parade because he disagrees with that message.  This issue is far from settled, in fact it is just getting started.

Rather, [religious freedom] is the right to the freedom of worship, and to be free from discrimination because of our religion.

The First Amendment protects the “free exercise” of religion.  The version of the First Amendment which protects only the right to believe what you want and attend the church of your choice exists only in the minds of those who seek to control us, not in the Constitution.

If I go to a restaurant with my young twins to celebrate their First Communion, I should not have to worry about whether the restaurant will refuse to serve me because we are Catholic.

Of course everyone agrees with this.  However, if Mr. Ferguson and his young twins wanted the restaurant owner to cater their exorcism,  an atheist business owner should  have the right to decline to participate without fear of being sued for discrimination on the basis of religion.  After all, it is not the person requesting the service they object to, but the nature of the service requested.

Arlene’s Flowers refused to serve Mr. Freed and Mr. Ingersoll because they are gay.

As discussed above, this also is not true.  Arlene’s Flowers served Mr. Freed and Mr. Ingersoll for nine years knowing they were gay.  Arlene’s Flowers stands ready to serve them again. Arlene’s Flowers serves everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation.  But there are some events they are uncomfortable being part of.

Washington State law says that if a business chooses to provide a service to heterosexual customers it must provide that service to gay and lesbian customers.

Washington State law says no such thing.  It says only that you cannot discriminate on the basis of race, religions, gender, veteran status, sexual orientation, etc… Non-discrimination laws were created to make sure that businesses did not have explicit policies stating “No Jews”, “No Mexicans”, “No Mormons” or anything of the kind.  By happily and graciously serving everyone, Arlene’s Flowers abides by both the letter and the spirit of the law.

The Attorney General’s interpretation of the law means that the wedding industry is now off-limits to those who believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman.  America was created specifically in response to the environment in Europe where people had to hold a certain set of beliefs in order to have equal access to economic opportunity.

We must resist the attempts to impose a new state religion built around a specifically belief about sexuality.

The Kennewick City Council agreed to take this issue up at a future meeting.

As a result, this debate will continue in Kennewick and around the country.  It will continue because it is fundamental to who we are as a nation.  Will individuals enjoy the right of association and the free exercise of religion in the way we always have? Will we surrender those rights to a government desiring to control us in the name of tolerance?

The weakness of the Attorney General’s position is exposed by his need to repeatedly misrepresent Arlene’s Flowers position. If you have strong arguments, the truth is your friend.

Still, the outcome of this debate will not be determined by who has the greatest argument, but who has the strongest resolve.

To share your thoughts with Attorney General Ferguson about this letter or his lawsuit against Arlene’s Flowers, Call his office at 360-753-6200. Be respectful, but be heard.

Contact your legislators and ask them to protect conscience rights and religious freedom. You can email your legislators here or call the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000.

 

Below is the full letter from Attorney General Ferguson. Click on the images to enlarge.

AG Letter 1AG Letter 2

City Councilman Explains Why He’s Standing up for Arlene’s Flowers

This post was written by Pasco Councilman Robert Hoffman. Hoffman has introduced a resolution in support of religious freedom and opposition to the lawsuit brought by Attorney General Bob Ferguson against Arlene’s Flowers. His editorial was published in the Tri-Cities Herald on August 1, 2015.

From my perspective on the city council, here are some observations relating to points raised in the July 14 editorial, “Supporting Arlene’s goes beyond city duties.” It said that Pasco’s Resolution that I proposed is not something to take on the Washington Attorney General about because it is divisive, distracting and goes beyond council duties; this is a national debate, cities should leave well enough alone.

The Sunday, July 19 Tri-City Herald front page article cited a poll finding that 59% of people surveyed think wedding-related businesses should be allowed to refuse service to same-sex couples. Arlene’s Flowers has wide popular support in eastern Washington and the Tri Cities. These are some of the people I represent whose voice should not be ignored while her case is being heard in our courts.

True enough, the case is not about infrastructure, budgets, and zoning changes. Not all council decisions are. And some are contentious. In Pasco we have debated allowing a wet T-shirt contest at the boat races (declined), artwork in city hall, and the Liberty theater, adult bookstore, and prostitution in the downtown back in the 80’s. More recently, Planned Parenthood, pit bulls, fluoride, marijuana ,and e-cigarettes have had a place on the agenda. Other city councils have considered ordinances to set a minimum wage, provide clean needles to drug users, or prohibit gambling. Under the mayor’s leadership and with help from city staff, the Pasco City Council has worked through these various issues, reached a decision, and moved on.

The issue is national, but with a distinct local application. Arlene’s Flowers had a store in Pasco, and the owner had many years involvement with the city. The lawsuit by the state and ACLU had its origins in the Tri Cities.

We can’t just leave well enough alone because we now have faith based businesses in our communities at risk of prosecution if they exercise their freedom. If they follow their conscience and decline wedding-related business activities, the community is the loser because there will be less competition, and higher prices. Historically, people of faith have been good business leaders who understand how to manage risk, capital, and customer desires in the marketplace.

Is the best approach to appeal to the Attorney General? Maybe not. A better way may be towards the legislature to apply the State Constitution Article I, Section 11 on absolute freedom of conscience, into the RCW.

As a council member in Pasco, I have advocated for businesses in Pasco, sometimes to the frustration of council and staff. It’s my duty come along side people caught in the wheels of government, even those with issues some think are outside the box.

Ninth Circuit Court: WA Can Force Pharmacists to Sell Plan B

In the latest development in a case that has lasted nearly a decade, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that Washington State can force a pharmacy to sell Plan B despite their moral objections to doing so.

Plan B is a drug many object to because they believe it causes an early state abortion.

In 2007, the Washington State Board of Health created new rules stating that pharmacies must stock and sell Plan B. However, Ralph’s Thriftway challenged the rule and a judge ruled that the First Amendment protected their right to refer customers rather than sell a drug they objected to on moral grounds.

In their ruling yesterday, the Court of Appeals overturned that decision.

Kevin Stormans, President of Stormans Inc, which owns Ralph’s Thriftway, pointed out the irrationality of this decision in light of the general right pharmacists have to give referrals generally. “The state allows pharmacies to refer for all kinds of reasons. In practice, it only bans religiously motivated referrals.”

Mr. Stormans continued, “With 33 pharmacies stocking the drug within five miles of our store, it is extremely disappointing that the court and the state demand that we violate our conscience or lose our family business.”

Kristen Waggoner, lead counsel in the case and Senior Vice President of Legal Services at the Alliance Defending Freedom, noted that, “This case will affect many facilities within the state, including Catholic hospitals and pharmacies, which have made clear they will not dispense these drugs.”

Washington’s Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, who is also suing Arlene’s Flowers because she declined to decorate for a same-sex wedding, called the decision “a major victory for the people of Washington.”

Luke Goodrich, an Attorney for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which helped defend the pharmacists, noted that “no patient has ever been denied timely access to any drug.”

But that didn’t matter.

The Court of Appeals said it was important for states to have the power to force pharmacists to violate their beliefs because, “facilitated referrals could lead to feelings of shame in the patient that could dissuade her from obtaining emergency contraception altogether.”

The Oregon Labor Commission similarly cited hurt feelings to justify a $135,000 fine against a bakery that did not want to bake a same-sex wedding cake. In addition, Justice Kennedy’s decision redefining marriage similarly argued that acknowledging the difference between heterosexual and homosexual relationships condemns people to “live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions.”

While traditionally the job of courts has been to interpret the law, the fact that the courts have appointed themselves guardians of the people’s feelings can only be a bad thing for freedom.

Attorneys for Ralph’s Thriftway have pledged to appeal the ruling. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is the most frequently overturned.

What can you do in response to this decision?

  1. Contact your legislator and ask them to support legislation that allows Washingtonians to live and work according to their beliefs without fear of unreasonable government intrusion. You can reach them at the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here.
  2. If you disagree with Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s belief that this decision is “a major victory for the people of Washington”, call him at 360-753-6200 and let him know.
  3. Forward this email to someone who shares your concern about the rapid loss of liberty and encourage them to do the same. We are the solution to our problems.

Remember, in politics silence is consent. Always be respectful, but don’t be silent.

This story has been edited from its original version to correctly identify the lead counsel in the case. 7/24/15 11:11 am

Religious Liberty – Attacks Continue to Mount

In the ongoing battle to preserve religious liberty, two more small business owners are feeling the heat of litigation over their views on traditional marriage. It is likely you have already heard about Barronelle Stutzman, Aaron and Melissa Klein, and so many others who decline to participate in actions that violate their conscience and deeply held religious beliefs. This summer, Richard and Betty Odgaard will join their ranks and close the doors to their 13-year-old business.

As owners of Görtz Haus Gallery in Grimes, Iowa, the Odgaards have operated a wedding venue, bistro, flower shop, and art gallery in an old stone church since 2002. When a gay couple approached them requesting to rent the church for their wedding, the Odgaards declined, knowing this decision would not be congruous with their Mennonite faith and convictions. By the next day, the gay couple had filed a report with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. There was no trial by jury – only an administrative judgment by the same entity with whom the gay couple had filed their complaint. Since the laws in Iowa place the burden of proof on the Odgaards, they knew the judgment was all but predetermined and inevitable. The Beckett Fund, whose lawyers were defending the Odgaards, notes that “the State refused to dismiss its case against the Odgaards even after the two men—contrary to their prior sworn statements—admitted they had been married months before asking the Odgaards to host their ceremony.” In addition to this, the church at Görtz Haus was not entitled to the same protections which Iowa currently allows houses of worship, due to its public service capacity. The Iowa Civil Rights Commission also denied the Odgaards access to the Iowa state court to defend their claims.

The Odgaards did not admit to discrimination, but agreed to a $5,000 settlement. They initially closed the wedding portion of their business to avoid further lawsuits but were isolated from community support since they could not speak out while the case was pending. Ultimately, the firestorm of negative press and boycotts proved too much and they will be closing their business completely this August. Speaking of those who participated in the boycott, Richard Odgaard said,

“They didn’t come in because the people who are against us are more vocal than the people who are in our court.”

Let us take this statement as a call to action and an encouragement to speak out while we can. Those with whom we disagree may be vocal, but we must be too.

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For more details on the Odgaards’ story, check out this article written by Kelsey Harkness at the Daily Signal.

You can send a note of encouragement to the Odgaards here: hischildren@gods-design.org

Stay informed and find out how you can join FPIW in making a difference by checking out the opportunities here

Dhimmitude in America?

You may not know what dhimmitude is and hopefully you never experience it.

But you’ve probably heard of ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and you’re almost surely aware of what Christians are.

Dhimmitude is an Islamic system that governs non-Muslims who have been conquered through Jihad by folks like ISIS.

If you surrender to Muslim control – though not Muslim – you are referred to as dhimmi.

Sounds fun, right?

If ISIS took over the town you live in, they might move door to door and give you three options: “convert to Islam, pay the jizya, or die.”

The jizya is a tax for not being Muslim.

It doesn’t apply to everyone, but paying it is seen as proof of your subjection to the Jihadist state and its laws. In return, non-Muslim subjects are permitted to practice their faith, to enjoy a measure of communal autonomy, to be entitled to the Muslim state’s protection from outside aggression.

Acknowledging the difference, there are parallels between the way Jihadists treat those who are in dhimmitude and the way the new sexual revolution in America seeks to treat those who disagree with their (religious?) beliefs about sexuality and marriage.

Once they have political power, they are giving businesses three options “convert, pay a fine, or die” (economically, not physically).

After Arlene’s Flowers was sued for declining to decorate for a same-sex wedding, Attorney General Bob Ferguson offered to settle (demanded the jizya) for $2,000 on the condition that she would “convert,” or agree to make business decisions according to the state’s new values.

Only a few days ago, a judge in Oregon fined a bakery $135,000 because they attempted to run their business according to their Christian beliefs about sexuality rather than the government’s. When they rejected the government’s demands that they convert or pay the jizya, the government opted for what amounts to the economic death penalty.

“Nonsense,” you argue. “They broke the law. Having penalties for breaking the law isn’t exactly innovative. Nor is it jihadist.”

Fair enough.

But the left’s new found impulse to be sticklers for the letter of the law misses the larger point.

The left is proposing a regime change that fundamentally alters freedoms that have been taken for granted for in America for centuries.

Christians, Jews, Muslims and others have been not participating in same-sex “weddings” for millennia.

But under the new regime, doing what has always been done is illegal.

Your choice. Convert, pay a fine if you refuse to convert and then convert, or experience economic death.

Like the jizya, the non-discrimination law discriminates.  It protects one person’s right to decline to participate in an activity they disagree with, but denies that right to others. 

The good news is that if you accept the terms of the new regime, you will still be allowed a measure of communal autonomy, and be entitled to other benefits from the state.

Imagine a new law compelling church attendance or pork consumption on the grounds that refusing to participate is discriminatory. (Which, of course, it is. But that’s the kind of discrimination lefties still like.)

Being indignant with the atheist who objects to compulsory church attendance would be stupid since he’s simply doing what atheists have always done.

“But it’s the law,” you say, self-righteously.

“But it shouldn’t be the law, and you should know better,” he says in response.

And of course he’s right.

The way non-discrimination laws are being interpreted right now is not a modification to the building code that frustrates some builders or a change in the speed law that catches unsuspecting drivers.

It is a regime change that seeks to fundamentally alter the way Americans have always lived. It seeks to create the kind of conformity that America was created in opposition to.

America doesn’t and shouldn’t have conquered peoples. We make room for the atheists, Christians, Muslims, or Jew to be who they are, not just in their preferred place of worship, but in the rest of their life as well. We respect the right for people to be who they are, even if we think they’re silly and ignorant. We understand that we’re different and we make room for that.

Dhimmitude is for jihadists, not for Americans.

LGBT Community Defends Arlene’s Flowers

Earlier this week, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers, Barronelle Stutzman, appeared on the Kelly File to discuss the lawsuit brought against her by Washington State’s Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, when she declined to decorate for a same-sex ceremony.

She has recently declined the Attorney General’s settlement offer that would have ended the litigation if she agreed to pay a $2,001 fine and agree to surrender the right to make business decisions consistent with her beliefs.

What might be surprising is the amount of support for Mrs. Stutzman from the gay community on the on the Kelly File Facebook page discussing this case.  Here is just a sample of the comments.

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The political leadership of the LGBT movement wants to convince the world that the debate over conscience rights and religious freedom is a debate between those who hate gay people and those who don’t.

In reality, its a debate between those who hate freedom and those who don’t.