Carl and Angel Larsen watched with concern as a biblical understanding of marriage declined in the culture.
The Larsens are passionate about marriage. They’ve been providing marriage and premarital counseling for years. Carl has even officiated two weddings. But they wanted to do more.
That’s when it hit them.
Carl and Angel own Telescope Media Group, a filmmaking business. They realized they could use their God-given creative skills to tell compelling stories about God’s design for marriage as a union of one man and one woman.
As they considered entering the wedding industry, however, they discovered that a Minnesota law prevents them from filming these stories. Minnesota officials interpret the law to require the Larsens to make films celebrating same-sex marriages if they create films celebrating marriages between one man and one woman.
But that completely undermines the reason the Larsens want to tell these stories in the first place. They believe that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman and that marriage represents the relationship of Jesus Christ to his people. It’s a physical display of the Gospel. To celebrate same-sex marriages is to contradict the very core of their Christian beliefs. And while the Larsens happily serve everyone, they cannot express every message.
That’s why the Larsens have challenged this law in court. Today, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorneys asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit to protect the Larsens’ freedom to create films consistently with their faith.
The wedding films that the Larsens want to create are a unique product – aimed at changing hearts and minds about marriage and helping people to understand the beauty of marriage as God designed it. And the Larsens would be personally involved in each step of the process.
Before the wedding, the Larsens plan to meet with and get to know the engaged couple. They will capture the story of the couple – learning as much as possible about their relationship, what marriage means to them, and their vision for the future.
On the wedding day, the Larsens plan to capture video footage of the wedding ceremony itself and put together a video on-site for the reception. Combining music, footage from the wedding itself, and audio of the couple talking about marriage, the Larsens will put together a unique video to show at the wedding reception. Through the video, the Larsens want to communicate the beauty of marriage to those who attend.
After the wedding, the Larsens plan to create a lengthier wedding film for the couple to emphasize the beauty of marriage. They also will publish the videos to a wider audience to proclaim God’s design for marriage.
But the Larsens have held off on entering the wedding industry for fear of violating the Minnesota law. They could face severe fines and even jail time if they offer these types of films consistent with their religious beliefs.
It’s clear that the videos they produce are speech. The question is: Does the government have the power to force individuals to tell stories that contradict their beliefs – pushing them out of the marketplace if they refuse?
It should concern us all if that answer is “yes.”