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Joe Kennedy’s Case To Be Heard By Ninth Circuit Monday

He was fired for praying on the football field after games. Now Coach Kennedy will have his case heard by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

School officials told Joe Kennedy—a former assistant football coach at Bremerton High School who was adored by his players—that he couldn’t pray after football games. After Kennedy continued praying, Bremerton School District placed him on administrative leave. They chose not to rehire him the next season.

Kennedy has sued the school district for discriminating against him on the basis of his religion.

This Monday, June 12, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District at 9:00 am. The oral arguments will be heard at William K. Nakamura Courthouse, 1010 Fifth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104.

Kennedy is being represented by First Liberty, a nationally renowned religious liberty legal defense organization. First Liberty has created a webpage to provide more information for those who want to learn about the particulars of the case.

How President-Elect Trump Made Progressives Like “Discrimination” Again

What a difference eight years makes.

When President Obama was elected in 2008, he campaigned on the idea that marriage was a relationship between a man and a woman.

His political party was obviously good with that.

When he leaves office tomorrow, most of that same political party believes that people who hold the position he held when he was elected President should lose their businesses for it.

As a result bakers, florists, print shops, pizza shops owners, photographers, graduate students and fire chiefs suffered the wrath of a mob that somewhere along the way decided that tolerance only meant tolerating beliefs you agreed with or understood.

In principle, Americans have long agreed that “tolerance” is a good thing.

But only recently did we decide that “tolerance” required you to support events, messages, and activities you personally opposed.

But then Donald Trump was elected President.

And that changed everything.

To be sure, it’s a dramatic shift in the nature of the leadership coming from Washington, D.C.

But for progressives, it also required a change in their core principles.

For years they told those who didn’t support their view of marriage and sexuality that abstention was a sign of invidious bigotry. But overnight, it became a moral necessity.

Broadway singer Jennifer Holliday (who had performed for four previous Presidents) agreed to sing the national anthem at the inauguration, but she withdrew after receiving an avalanche of ridicule up to and including death threats and calls for her suicide.

Not only were they willing to tolerate people who declined to participate in certain events, they demanded it.

Ms. Holliday had hoped her voice would help bring people together.   But, as she described it, she didn’t realize that, “We’re not doing America right now.”

When Nicole Kidman tweeted that “…we as a country need to support whoever’s the president because that’s what the country is based on,” the mob demanded (and eventually received) an apology.

As if that statement is something requiring an apology.

The designer who declined to design a dress for Melania Trump was applauded instead of picketed.

When members of the Rockette’s objected to leg-kicking for the President-elect, the progressive mob showed no indignation at their obviously discriminatory preferences but defended their right of conscience.

The difference is obvious.

The mob agrees with their convictions and consequently has sympathy for their decision to abstain.

The hypocrisy, however, is equally obvious.

If you believe in freedom only for those who agree with you, you don’t really believe in freedom.

Progressives will attempt to make a distinction between the singers who opted not to sing at the inauguration and the florists who declined to decorate for a same-sex wedding. “Sexual orientation is a protected class,” they insist, “but whatever category you wish to put Donald Trump into is not.”

But that attempt to make a distinction simply ignores the fact that protected class status is a function of a political majority’s preferences.

What if “presidents who wanted to build a wall on the Mexican boarder” were designated as a protected class who could not be discriminated against?

Should that change the rights of singers to decline to be part of the inauguration?

Of course not.

But under their preferred framework, it would.

It has been commonplace throughout history that those in power would use their power to punish their political opponents until such a time as their political opponents figure out a way to wrestle power away from them and then they use that power to exact revenge.

America isn’t supposed to be that way.

Our Constitution and Bill of Rights were created out of recognition that all of us have rights that must be protected even if no one else agrees with us or even likes us.

And no one has the right to make someone else do something they don’t want to do.

Some of us forgot this over the past eight years, but now we have a chance to remember.

We have the opportunity to reestablish the idea that freedom is good even if the way it is used offends you.

The freedom to “discriminate” isn’t always a crisis because one man’s “discrimination” is another man’s right of conscience.

Sometimes we might be the majority.  Sometimes we might not.  But that shouldn’t have any bearing on whether people can be compelled to do things that violate their conscience.

Conservatives have been making this argument for years.  Now that they’ve lost an election, progressives are coming around as well.

If Trump’s election helped bring us together again on this point, perhaps he is making America great again, already.

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.

Responding to the Attorney General

Last week we wrote you about the fact that Attorney General Bob Ferguson is not only suing Arlene’s Flowers because of her decision not to decorate for a same-sex “wedding”, but is going after her personal assets as well.  We are encouraging you to contact Bob Ferguson’s office and also go to the Benton County Superior Courthouse this Friday, December 19th, to show your support for Barronelle Stutzman and conscience rights.

For those of you who did, you likely got a form letter response.  Several people asked how to respond, so below I have made some comments that I hope will help you continue the dialogue with the Attorney General:


Dear Concerned Washington Citizen,

Thank you for your message to Attorney General Bob Ferguson expressing your thoughts about the civil lawsuit our office filed against Arlene’s Flowers for violating the Washington State Consumer Protection Act.  I’ve been asked to respond on his behalf.

The Attorney General must enforce the laws of the state of Washington. Since 1973, the Consumer Protection Act has prohibited all businesses and business owners – regardless of personal religious beliefs –  from discriminating against their customers. In 2006, the Legislature amended the law to include protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. If a business provides wedding flowers to opposite-sex couples, then it must provide wedding flowers to same-sex couples.

It is true that the Attorney General must enforce the laws of the state of Washington.  It is also true that a law was passed in 2006 which includes protections on the basis of sexual orientation.  The idea that a business must provide flowers to same-sex weddings is simply his opinion.  Arlene’s Flowers has served the gay couple involved in this case and has even employed gay people in the past.  This was not an issue of a business that discriminated against a class of people but instead a decision not to be part of a particular event that was inconsistent with the values of the business. She has, would, and continues to do business with people who identify as gay.  

The Attorney General’s Office first asked Ms. Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers, to comply with state law by sending her a letter informing her of the law and asking her to formally agree to no longer discriminate against same-sex couples. Had she signed that agreement, she would not have been subject to any costs or fees. Instead, her lawyer sent us a letter stating Ms. Stutzman would fight any efforts to comply with the long-standing state law.  At that point, we filed a suit asking the court to order Ms. Stutzman to follow the law.

It is true that the Attorney General’s office sent a demand letter telling her to surrender her conscience rights and make a contribution to an organization that she did not philosophically support in order to avoid being sued. But like the lawsuit itself, that was also an act of harassment, bullying, and intimidation unbecoming of a public servant. 

The Attorney General’s position is in direct conflict with Section 11 of the Washington State constitution which guarantees “Absolute freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment, belief and worship, shall be guaranteed to every individual, and no on shall be molested or disturbed in person or property on account of religion;”   Contrary to the Attorney General’s position, the legislature does not have the authority to repeal sections of the State Constitution that do not comport with their desire to bully the world into being “more tolerant”.

Attorney General Ferguson respects people’s religious beliefs and personal opinions. As an individual, Ms. Stutzman has the right to religious freedom and expression of her beliefs.  However, as a business owner she must follow Washington state law which prohibits discrimination in the marketplace on the basis of sexual orientation-regardless of personal viewpoints.

Either Bob Ferguson is simply being dishonest about respecting religious freedom or he has redefined what religious freedom means. Religious freedom is more than simply the right to have beliefs inside your head.  It includes the right to make decisions in the real world on the basis of those beliefs.  His apparent understanding of religious freedom means that we are free to have our own thoughts as long as we only express them in church or our home. That is the opposite of religious freedom.

Businesses may reserve the right to require shoes or shirts. Similarly, they may refuse to serve someone who is drunk or disorderly. Under Washington state law, however, businesses may not discriminate on the basis of “race, creed, color, national origin, sex, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, or disability.”  There is no right to discrimination that a business can reserve.

Again, Arlene’s Flowers did not and does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.  They have demonstrated repeatedly that they are happy to serve people in same-sex relationships.  However, there are some events they are not comfortable being part of.  That should be anyone’s right.

Regardless, the letter implies that there is a right to be free from discrimination. While the sentiment is nice, not even Bob Ferguson really believes that.  After all, he allows people to discriminate against the shoeless and shirtless.  

His position is that the non-discrimination statute passed in 2006, repealed the Constitutional rights to the free exercise of religion, association, and the freedom of speech, which includes the right not to speak, if that is your preference.

That is beyond the legislature’s authority.

In this case, the Attorney General is saying that as a condition of being a flower shop that provides flowers for any kind of wedding, he can force you violate your religious beliefs, associate with activities you’d prefer not to associate with, and communicate messages through your work that violate your beliefs.

I hope this information is helpful in explaining why this office filed suit against Ms. Stutzman and Arlene’s Flowers.

This information is helpful is explaining how the Attorney General believes the non-discrimination law from 2006 repealed a host of state and federal Constitutional rights.  But it does not justify his harassment of grandmothers who own small businesses.

 

Ellen M. Austin Hall
Office of Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson
800 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2000, Seattle, WA 98104


I hope this helps you work through this letter and maybe even inspires further dialogue with the Attorney General’s office.  Please be persistent.  Be respectful, but be persistent.

Don’t expect to change his mind soon because this lawsuit is about politics.  Deep down, the Attorney General probably even knows he’s being a bully.  Surely there are people in his family who share Barronelle Stutzman’s beliefs that he knows should not lose their home or business because of their beliefs.

But he hopes to be Governor one day and he has political interests he needs to please in order to make that happen. This is the path he has chosen.

For that reason, it is unlikely that he will be persuaded by arguments. But we should stand up for Barronelle because it is the right thing to do.

The permanent solution to this is a critical mass of people rising up to say, “Enough!”.  The legislature could put a stop to this through legislation clarifying that the non-discrimination law does not enable harassment like this.  But they won’t unless good policy also becomes good politics.

Demand better behavior from those we elect.  Remember, silence is consent.

Call the Attorney General at 360-753-6200 and email your legislators and encourage them to protect conscience rights and religious freedom.