In 2012, 33% of American adults believed that religious freedom was in bad shape. But a lot can change in three years.
Highlighted by the Supreme Court's ruling in June imposing same-sex marriage on all 50 states, conflict surrounding state Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA), and dozens of lawsuits concerning the Obamacare Abortion-Pill Mandate, it is no surprise that a recent survey reveals that 41% of Americans now believe that religious freedom is worse off than it was 10 years ago.
ADF clients such as Barronelle Stutzman, Kelvin Cochran, and Blaine Adamson have experienced this disturbing trend firsthand. But despite the unfortunate state of religious freedom, their willingness to stand firm gives us hope that America’s commitment to robust religious freedom can be restored if we are all willing to take a stand for our freedoms.
The 70-year-old grandmother and florist was sued by a longstanding customer and the State of Washington after she declined to lend her creative talents to celebrate the customer's same-sex ceremony. ADF attorneys have appealed to the Washington Supreme Court on Barronelle's behalf.
"America would be a better place if citizens respected each others' differences and the government still protected the freedom to have those differences," said Stutzman. "I just want the freedom to live and work faithfully and according to what God says about marriage without fear of punishment. Others have the freedom to live according to their beliefs about marriage, and that’s all I’m asking for as well.”
Kelvin Cochran, the former Atlanta Fire Chief, was fired after he wrote a book on his own time that briefly mentions the Bible’s teaching about marriage and sexual immorality. This distinguished public servant and former presidential appointee saw over 30 years of service ended because of his faith. ADF attorneys have filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Atlanta and the mayor over Cochran's unjust termination.
“To actually lose my childhood-dream-come-true profession – where all of my expectations have been greatly exceeded – because of my faith is staggering,” said Cochran. “The very faith that led me to pursue my career has been used to take it from me. All Americans are guaranteed the freedom to hold to their beliefs without the consequences that I have experienced.”
Blaine Adamson, a promotional printer from Kentucky, landed in legal hot water when he declined a job from the Gay and Lesbian Service Organization because the message on the T-shirts they were asking him to print conflicted with his deeply held religious beliefs. ADF attorneys representing Adamson appealed a ruling by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission, which would force Blaine to print messages that conflict with his conscience. In a victory for religious freedom and free speech, the Fayette County Circuit Court reversed the commission’s decision and upheld Blaine's freedom to not print messages that conflict with his beliefs. The Commission has appealed the ruling.
"I’ll work with any person, no matter who they are, no matter what their belief systems are. But when they present a message that conflicts with my convictions, it's not something that I can print. That's the line for me," said Adamson.
We are so proud of Barronelle, Kelvin, Blaine, and all of our clients who are brave enough to take a stand for what they believe in the face of adversity. They are willing to risk losing their jobs, their businesses, and even their personal assets instead of turning their backs on their faith and violating their consciences. Their faithfulness to stand up and fight for their freedom is truly admirable and will have lasting effects for the rest of us.
Do you know someone who is being burdened by laws that infringe on their religious freedom and could potentially force them to violate their faith? Encourage them to contact ADF or call: 800-835-5233.
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