Florist rejects AG’s offer, stands courageously on principle, and risks everything

If you haven’t been following Barronelle Stutzman’s case in Washington State, you need to be. She is the florist being sued by the state attorney general for refusing to participate in a gay wedding. The attorney general is trying to compel her to ignore her Christian faith and to participate in gay weddings. If she refuses, he is threatening the full coercive power of the state to force her to do it. She stands to lose everything—her home, her savings, her business, her livelihood—if she does not comply. I have an article today at CNN.com explaining the situation. The conclusion reads like this:

Barronelle Stutzman’s case is nothing less than an egregious violation of our first freedom. It is Caesar saying, “Conscience be damned. Submit to the new sexual orthodoxy or risk losing everything.”

This is not tolerance. This is injustice that flies in the face of this nation’s laws and traditions. And if this kind of thing can be done to a 70-year-old grandmother running a small flower shop in rural Washington State, then it can be done to you. No one’s conscience is safe if this precedent becomes the norm.

Late yesterday after news began to spread that a 70-year old grandmother was being threatened with financial ruin, the attorney general proposed a settlement that offers a small fine in exchange for Mrs. Stutzman’s agreeing to admit wrongdoing and to violate her conscience going forward.

Today, Mrs. Studzman has released a statement through her legal team that is as astonishing as it is courageous. Rather than accept the nominal fine and surrender her principles, she has decided to risk everything to stand for religious freedom. In her own words to the attorney general:

Thank you for reaching out and making an offer to settle your case against me.

As you may imagine, it has been mentally and emotionally exhausting to be at the center of this controversy for nearly two years.  I never imagined that using my God-given talents and abilities, and doing what I love to do for over three decades, would become illegal. Our state would be a better place if we respected each other’s differences, and our leaders protected the freedom to have those differences. Since 2012, same-sex couples all over the state have been free to act on their beliefs about marriage, but because I follow the Bible’s teaching that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, I am no longer free to act on my beliefs.

Your offer reveals that you don’t really understand me or what this conflict is all about. It’s about freedom, not money. I certainly don’t relish the idea of losing my business, my home, and everything else that your lawsuit threatens to take from my family, but my freedom to honor God in doing what I do best is more important. Washington’s constitution guarantees us “freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment.” I cannot sell that precious freedom. You are asking me to walk in the way of a well-known betrayer, one who sold something of infinite worth for 30 pieces of silver.  That is something I will not do.

I pray that you reconsider your position. I kindly served Rob for nearly a decade and would gladly continue to do so. I truly want the best for my friend. I’ve also employed and served many members of the LGBT community, and I will continue to do so regardless of what happens with this case. You chose to attack my faith and pursue this not simply as a matter of law, but to threaten my very means of working, eating, and having a home. If you are serious about clarifying the law, then I urge you to drop your claims against my home, business, and other assets and pursue the legal claims through the appeal process. Thanks again for writing and I hope you will consider my offer.

I am amazed that the attorney general is really going to press this. I am even more amazed at Mrs. Stutzman’s courage. The case will be on appeal very soon, and we will be following very closely. In the meantime, pray for Barronelle. She has chosen the difficult path, and she really is risking everything to follow her Christian conscience.

99 Responses to Florist rejects AG’s offer, stands courageously on principle, and risks everything

  1. Ryan February 20, 2015 at 4:17 pm #

    Praise God for this courageous woman of the cross!

  2. Roy Fuller February 20, 2015 at 5:16 pm #

    I find it interesting that this woman has sold flowers to gays for years, has employed them in her business, and yet cannot sell them flowers for a wedding. And in your column at CNN, you suggest “She simply could not defy her conscience and lend her creative talent to help celebrate what her faith says she cannot celebrate.” Who asked her to “celebrate” anything? What does she think she is doing when she sells flowers to anybody for any event? Is she “celebrating” every event anyone who purchases flowers in her shop are celebrating? Is she okay with a customer buying flowers for a same-sex partner, to celebrate their love, as long as it is not for a wedding? Just curious.

    • David Powell February 20, 2015 at 6:00 pm #

      If you’re a Christian, go read Romans 14 and think it over. If you’re not, move along.

      • Bob Wilson February 20, 2015 at 6:38 pm #

        Sigh, just so pointless. I certainly wish the state would leave her alone.

        But at the same time, what does Romans have to do with this? When did it become the place for sellers to pass judgement on their customers? Does she sell flowers for the religious ceremonies of Muslims or Jews? After all, those are “false” religions and to “approve” such celebrations only encourages those participants in their “false” beliefs.

      • Chris Ryan February 20, 2015 at 11:16 pm #

        David, Note this epistle was not addressed to Caesar, but to Rome’s Christians. Romans 14 states how Christians are to treat one another, not how a country is supposed to treat its citizens. Just like we can’t have Sharia Law running the country we can’t have the Christian equivalent doing it either. We’re a democracy, not a theocracy.

        • Stephen Dawe February 22, 2015 at 9:36 pm #

          David was dealing with a comment about Baronelle’s actions, not state action. Were that the case, and were he like me, I would point you to the constitution, which is designed to limit state action, not individual action. Quite simply, the state does not officially have the power to compel what it is thinking to compel. Romans tells the Christian why we act the way we do, the constitution limits the government. That is hardly theocracy, it is simply toleration of minority religious views.

          • Chris Ryan February 23, 2015 at 5:46 pm #

            The Contitution provides ample grounds to administer non-discrimination laws. The Supreme Court considered and rejected such claims when Southern segregationists (eg, Bob Jones University) sought to avoid discrimination lawsuits by raising religious objections. Even Scalia says that the Feds can force religious groups to abide by generally applicable laws. The Constitutionality of this is simply not in doubt.

        • Chris Stone February 24, 2015 at 12:20 pm #

          We are not a democracy. We are a Republic. BIG difference. I would never want to live in a democracy. Majority rules and can take away anything from anyone. So everyone will have something taken away from them. Some more than others. The premise of a Republic is that everyone has God given/inherits rights when they are born. Those rights are very simple and no entity including government should be able to infringe on them. The only true rights are the same through the test of time. Things like right to your life, liberty, and property. In the case of the Florist, she should not be made to do something with her property that she doesn’t want to do. She isn’t hurting anyone by refusing to not do the wedding. They can go to a different florist and via free speech can make a stink about it to anyone who listens, thus hurting her business.

      • Ryle Cameron February 21, 2015 at 12:14 pm #

        David, as a fellow Christian, I would ask this: would you consider not being so dismissive with your last sentence? Instead, please try to engage with others with “gentleness and respect”, as Peter said in an (arguably) similar scenario.

        Regards

    • Johnny Mason February 20, 2015 at 6:26 pm #

      Roy, are you married? Do you know the effort and time involved to prepare, stage, and coordinate the floral arrangements for a wedding? It is not simply someone coming in to order a bouquet of flowers. This is the order from the court:

      “Ekstrom accepted Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s argument that Stutzman violated the state’s Law Against Discrimination and its Consumer Protection Act for acting consistent with her Christian faith. Ekstrom concluded that Stutzman must provide full wedding support for same-sex ceremonies, including custom design work to decorate the ceremony, delivery to the forum, staying at the ceremony to touch up arrangements, and assisting the wedding party.”

      This it is not simply selling flowers for an event.

      • Jane Dunn February 22, 2015 at 4:43 pm #

        Johnny Mason – That’s *not* the order from the court and it’s not what the court held.

    • Michael Hutton February 20, 2015 at 7:49 pm #

      When any individual walks into your shop and buys flowers you are selling a product. they can do what they want with it, they can throw them in the trash as soon as they leave. The transaction is done, whatever. It’s a sale of goods.

      But preparing flowers for a wedding is a service that involves the server with the event.
      When you are engaged as a wedding decorator you are at the very least agreeing that this is a wedding. You are also approving and if an artist throws herself into it you are celebrating with them. She is saying I can’t celebrate or approve something that the Bible says isn’t even a wedding.

      That’s the difference.

      • Bob Wilson February 20, 2015 at 9:37 pm #

        Some of the hostility toward these wedding vendors is toward conservative religion for sure, but still I think many of you don’t appreciate how inappropriately self rightious these vendors seem to more secular people like myself.

        There are many services that give vendors a glimpse into the private lives of their customers. I would be stunned beyond belief to hear any of them pass judgement on my private life. I would be thinking and maybe saying, “Who the **** asked you for your opinion? I’m paying you for a service not a blessing!”

        • 60guilders February 20, 2015 at 10:17 pm #

          You seem to be under a misapprehension, sir. That misapprehension is that your personal and private lives are one and the same.
          A wedding is a personal event, not a private one. To ask someone to provide for it is, after a fashion, asking for their approval.

          Lowell Van Ness

          • Bob Wilson February 20, 2015 at 11:01 pm #

            I don’t agree. I’m not “asking” a baker or florist for anything—I’m paying them for a service. They are not my friends or family, they are strangers who happen to have a skill I wish to pay for. When I have need of advice or guidance, I’ll ask the people close to me. I don’t expect to get it unsolicited from someone i happen to be doing business with.

            • mel mariner (@mmellmmar) February 21, 2015 at 12:14 pm #

              A pastor is providing a service too. The point isn’t what you think you’re getting from her. The point is what she believes she is giving you. In this country that used to matter.

              • Bob Wilson February 21, 2015 at 4:56 pm #

                I was responding to the notion that I seek approval of my marriage when buying flowers or a cake. Not so.

                There is all the difference in the world between a pastor and a baker. From a pastor I expect religious approval, otherwise I would just get married by a secular official.

                • David Ould February 21, 2015 at 9:42 pm #

                  But then if no approval is being sought, why the complaint in this case when approval wasn’t given?

                  • Bob Wilson February 22, 2015 at 1:15 pm #

                    Good point and if it were me, I certainly wouldn’t bring in the state to force the issue. But I still think there is a real question here regarding the role of a public business. I maintain that selling me a service is not the same as a blessing.

                    I’ve asked many times on this site, how far does this “approval” logic go? Here the issue is marriage. How about housing? Everyone needs a place to live. How many services should Christians deny to people they feel are sinful?

                    • H.L. Jackson February 23, 2015 at 8:56 pm #

                      Every US Citizen, Christian or otherwise, should have the freedom to withhold or deny their personal expertise or services from whomever they please and for whatever reason they please. This should not apply to public services such as firemen, policemen etc., whose duty is to the state and, therefore, for the general welfare.

                      Otherwise, the reality becomes one in which the state can compel anyone and everyone to do whatever is requested of them for whatever reason and whatever price, which is the antithesis of personal freedom.

              • Marsha Hill February 24, 2015 at 4:26 pm #

                Mel, your right, it used to matter in this country…

            • Chris Stone February 24, 2015 at 12:35 pm #

              So, when someone at the wedding asks, “Who did the Flowers? They look great.” The florist that did them isn’t being linked to the wedding beyond just some service. She will then be known as a Florist that will do Gay weddings and that is not what she wants. Her services are not anonymous and it is really a principle thing anyways. You should be able to refuse service to anyone you want as a business owner. If it is something that is not culturally acceptable then let the money talk and pull business from that company. The market works.

          • Chris Ryan February 20, 2015 at 11:12 pm #

            The Supreme Court said it best: “When followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity. Granting an exemption… operates to impose [the follower’s] religious faith on the [person sought to be protected by the law.]”

            What this woman wants is special rights. She wants her religious beliefs privileged above all others. That’s now how this country works. She wants the right to discriminate against gays, and we simply can’t allow that. No more so than we would allow a Muslim to discriminate against a Christian. These tired arguments are the same old arguments served up by many in the ’60s to keep blacks from eating at their lunch counter. Thank God its 2015.

            • Peaceful in Seattle February 21, 2015 at 3:41 am #

              She’s not asking for Special Rights Chris. She’s asking that her constitutionally protected religious freedoms remain protected. We are not to be in the business of forcing people to participate in ceremonies they do not agree with. You willing to force Muslims to serve at Jewish ceremonies? You willing to force a baker to put messages they don’t like that don’t support gay unions on the cakes they bake?

              Leave her alone. There was ZERO imposition on those customers. Many others were happy to provide the flowers, some for free. This is about forcing the beliefs of some onto others, to the point of forcing them to comply or else destroying their lives. Monstrous.

              • Chris Ryan February 23, 2015 at 9:32 pm #

                Minneapolis forces Muslim taxi drivers to drive people carrying alcohol (bottles of wine, cases of beer, etc) wherever they want to go. And if a customer wants to go to a bar, the Muslim driver has to drive them there. This is life in a democracy. Religious liberty is not absolute,nor should it be. Being in business means having to serve everyone. There are occupations I refuse to enter because of the conflict with my Christian beliefs. Discrimination is the US’ original sin & it needs to end. Christians who don’t want to serve everyone should find different occupations.

                • Chris Stone February 24, 2015 at 12:46 pm #

                  Where is this democracy stuff coming from. We are not a democracy. Secondly, when you have a business you have the right to not serve anyone you want. This extends to any number of situations. Does a bar tender have the right to refuse to give alcohol to an alcoholic or a drunk? Businesses enter into a contract with their customers. That contract is between them and the customer. If either party isn’t happy with the terms (being whatever you want them to be from both ends) then don’t sign and the customer can go elsewhere. Simple. Does a regular american wedding party have the right to force a Jewish owned food catering service to serve pork? Does a obese couple have the right to force a low-fat vegan catering service to serve heavy fat-laden meats at their wedding? What if a business owner didn’t like red heads? Can they refuse service? Maybe they were traumatized when they were a kid by a red head. You take this one small step and it opens a huge can of worms when the simple fix is let the two parties work it out in contract or not. Period.

            • Christiane Smith February 21, 2015 at 4:24 am #

              Hi CHRIS,
              you have identified the core ruling of the Supreme Court of our land, and if Christians will look at the words “commercial activity” and “as a matter of choice”,
              they can only THEN begin to understand that coming into the public square and starting a business for PROFIT that serves the public involves the public in that business in a special contract of ” I make money selling to the public” . . . once a Christian can no longer openly do this in good conscience, then he or she must give the business up, rather than treat a portion of the public as ‘less than’ the other members of the public as ‘unworthy’ of paid-for services directed towards public consumption.

              What drives the ethic is that it is a money-making, freely-chosen, public-serving venture,
              and that may be an ethic that certain Christian people among us can no longer participate in according to their consciences.

              This, on the surface, is an innocent respectable Christian grandmother who is being abused . . . and I feel so sorry for her as a person that she was targeted in this way;
              but in the details of her situation, we find that ‘serving the public and making money doing it’ as a freely-accepted profession has its obligations TO that public . . . and therein lies the conflict. Were the gay couple right to protest? Yes, according to law. But it is sad how we can allow Westboro Baptist Church to injure the feelings of the families of dead soldiers,
              but not permit this grandmother her understanding of her faith, and how it is to be lived out publicly in her chosen profession. There does seem to be ‘limits’ on what a free society can tolerate without having to stomach a lot of what many would wish it didn’t have to, but that is our way, and until we find a better one, we are the companions of those with ‘rights’ we cannot stomach easily.

        • Dan February 21, 2015 at 6:43 am #

          And she’s respectfully denying to provide the service. So, you move onto the next flower shop. You don’t sue.

          • Marsha Hill February 24, 2015 at 4:39 pm #

            Oh Dan, I agree, they should just move on… but no, we live in a society that is forcing stuff down our throat. When all this stuff started years ago, Christians didn’t want to say anything, because it would have looked like we were bigots, and now it is so ingrained in our society, that it is almost against the law to have a moral/ biblical opinion. A few years ago I called a major company and told them I didn’t like it that they were sponsors of a tv show. The lady said I was violating some kind of anti hate policy. I didn’t and don’t hate them. They want all the rights of true husband and wives for tax purposes, and health care etc. God help us.

          • Lynn B. February 24, 2015 at 10:47 pm #

            You’ll want to watch this Fox News clip if you have not seen it; this is an act of the State Attorney General and not the gay couple who are long standing customers of this florists.

            http://video.foxnews.com/v/4077142022001/exclusive-florist-who-refuses-to-do-gay-wedding-speaks-out/?playlist_id=2694949842001#sp=show-clips

    • Jane Dunn February 21, 2015 at 8:38 pm #

      Yes, she is comfortable selling and arranging flowers for gay customers to celebrate their love. In fact, as the court decision notes, she made and sold these gay plaintiffs flowers for Valentines Day.

    • Cory Colravy February 21, 2015 at 9:11 pm #

      Roy, you miss the whole point. Even if her position makes no sense to you, what right does anyone have to demand a business owner to sell a product for an event that violates her religious conscience? Let someone open a flower shop or bakery that has no problem with that. If you cannot see the difference between hiring someone living a homosexual lifestyle and making a product in support of a public ceremony that goes against the core of her religious beliefs, I feel sorry for you. The fact is, homosexuality is a vile lifestyle. The Bible condemns it as “an abomination” in the eyes of God. All sexual immorality is wrong, not just homosexuality. But homosexuality is not only immoral but goes against nature itself. Read Romans 1:18ff. We have all broken the seventh commandment but right is right and wrong us wrong. Contributing to a same sex marriage is something no one who loves freedom should be forced to do it support. The LGBT crowd wants Christians and society to approve what is sinful and wicked and there are many of us, though deeply fallen sinners ourselves, will never do it.

    • Esther moulder February 21, 2015 at 10:41 pm #

      I hear you. Im a photographer and, though i am a Christian, i dont see photographing an event equal to approving or validating all of the subject’s life chioces. That’s looking at it spiritually.

      But the bigger point is, looking at it legally, she should be able to engage in business with anyone she chooses. The government shouldn’t have the power to force her to engage in business a specific person.

      Like she said, it’s about freedom.

    • sappi60 February 22, 2015 at 10:45 am #

      Roy, apparently you don’t understand the roll of a florist or a caterer or the person who rents the venue in a wedding. A florist does not simply sell you a bunch of flowers and says, “here, have at it.” They work with the couple (or at least with the bride) to pick out arrangements, put together bouquets for the wedding party, provide the boutonnieres, put together the table arrangements for the reception, etc…In other words, the florist is intimately involved in the preparation for the celebration. It’s not like when a customer comes into a shop and says “I’d like a dozen roses and add some Baby’s Breath and send to this address.” That’s a perhaps 10-20 minutes interaction. And the florist does not necessarily ask who it’s for or the occasion. But preparing for a wedding is different. It does require close involvement. The same with catering and renting your venue. And for a person of faith that means a “nod” to the festivities.
      Now yes, perhaps we of faith could be even more discerning and if a couple comes in, that we know shouldn’t be marrying each other, wanting to use our services we should say “sorry, I don’t agree with this marriage, I can’t serve you.” Maybe that would make it clearer for all the rest of you. Or if they belonged to another faith or were atheists. Maybe you would like us to say no to them as well. But we know that still wouldn’t please you, because you’d still gripe and complain.
      Really, the bottom line is, why is the government even involved in marriage at all? Why is it sanctioning a religious ritual? If it’s all about taxes and benefits, simply have people fill out a form that says, “We are in a contractual living arrangement and intend to file taxes jointly and wish to make them beneficiaries of our insurances and finances.”
      If the couple wants to have a party or a formal religious celebration that’s fine. But the government shouldn’t have anything to do with that. Nor should it be deciding whether someone can opt out or not.
      This is simply the government imposing it’s “values” (or lack thereof) on others and threatening their livelihood in the process.

    • Linda jackson February 25, 2015 at 8:43 am #

      I completely agree. She is a greedy Christian and didn’t mind taking there money as long as they didn’t get married. She should not have accepted their cash from the very first business exchange.

      • Peaceful In Seattle February 25, 2015 at 2:33 pm #

        It’s greedy to sell to people Linda? So, everyone selling to anyone is greedy if they don’t want to be told by those people at some point that there is something they are asked to do they don’t want to? So, if I hire a Muslim photographer to shoot pictures of my family for a portrait but he won’t come and take pictures of my baptism, then he’s greedy? And you would force him to do so?

        She didn’t deny service because they are gay. She already was willing to provide them service. She doesn’t want to participate in a ceremony she thinks is wrong. That should be the right for any of us not to have to be a part of ceremonies we don’t agree with.

    • Dave Stutzman February 26, 2015 at 3:58 pm #

      I am compelled to help those of you who do not understand the relationship of marriage for the Christian. It isn’t about judgement for sinful behavior, God is the judge. It is about the relationship of Jesus Christ to the Church, the God ordained relationship of a man to a woman, and the picture or type the latter represents.
      Ephesians 5:25-33
      25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
      26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
      27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
      28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
      29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
      30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
      31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
      32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

      To participate in any other form of ‘marriage’ is to denigrate the sovereignty of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

  3. Brett Cody February 20, 2015 at 5:29 pm #

    I pray for the courage to stand for Christ the way Mrs. Stutzman is!

  4. Pastor Dave Bissett February 20, 2015 at 6:05 pm #

    Excellent writing about a wonderful woman.

  5. dr. james willingham February 20, 2015 at 6:25 pm #

    The criminality of the state of Washington in denying this woman her religious rights is evident. Anyone taking sides with the other folks is telling us quite plainly that there is a conspiracy out to destroy this nation as we known it. We need people to pray as never before. And surely the evidence of a Conspiracy is there for all to see. These things were well-planned in advance.

  6. dr. james willingham February 20, 2015 at 6:36 pm #

    The conspiracy idea is of long standing, but due to the brainwashing of the American People by the powers that be, we have a problem getting people to believe such a thing as possible. Read and consider Carroll Quigley’s Tragedy and Hope, Bella Dodd’s School of Darkness, Taylor Caldwell’s Captains and the Kings; Tony Brown’s Empower the People; Pat Robertson’s The New World Order; C.S. Lewis’ That Hideous Strength. Now for a little experience. A friend of mine had a member of his church many years ago who told him that his family had kicked him out, that they were part of a group, a conspiracy, and any member of a family who did not go along with the conspiracy was booted out. The man’s family was associated with Harvard University. The gentleman was the head of the American Constitutional Program, and he gave my friend a copy of Quigley’s book. I said to my friend, “Well, do you believe it?” He hem hawed about it, and I said, “Well, if you could not believe it with the evidence available to you then, then imagine the problem of trying to persuade Americans that there is a danger lose in this land that threatens our very existence even our very lives.” In the 60s one fellow wrote a short work accusing one of the leading families of America as being members of such conspiracy. In the 90s, one of the members of that family spoke of having been accused of being a member of a Cabal and that he was and proud of it. He wrote about it in his autobiography, and someone has put the statement and the reference on youtube.

  7. Glenn Carrin February 20, 2015 at 8:16 pm #

    She is being compelled against conscience to go a mile, granted. But I am wondering what going for two might look like? Compulsory servitude to an enemy is not compulsory worship of a different God, nor is going an extra mile to be equated with being a Judas.

    So I wrestle with how much the fight for American rights places a basket over a candle.

    • Lynn B. February 21, 2015 at 6:17 pm #

      Glenn, they may stone us but I agree with you. We confuse defending the gospel and defending our American freedoms and they are not the same thing. I honestly do not know the right thing is this situation but you make a very good point about going the second mile. On the other hand, our freedoms are of great value and are worth defending.

  8. Barry Wodward February 20, 2015 at 11:36 pm #

    I’m really impressed with this woman’s courage. Do you know if there is a fund set up anywhere to support her financially? I hate that she is being ruined by this nonsense.

  9. Tim February 21, 2015 at 12:12 am #

    Tim Hall, I thought a business had the right to refuse service to anyone.

    • Paul Reed February 21, 2015 at 1:06 am #

      Tim, +1. A business should have to right to serve whoever they want to, and refuse service to anyone. No business should ever be forced to associate or serve people they don’t want to.

      • Christiane Smith February 21, 2015 at 4:43 am #

        Hi PAUL REED,
        I would say no private citizen can be forced to associate with someone against their will,
        but the professional who works for the public has a different situation . . . when and where can being Christian affect a person who served the public for money . . . when those doors are open to ‘the public’, can we then control who comes in?

        If we could, I imagine many Southern states would still have restaurants with signs in the windows ‘White Only’ . . . and the Roses in downtown Norfolk would still refuse to serve black people at its lunch counter . . .

        but that is now gone by . . . black people were treated poorly because they were black, and no other reason . . . will we now request ‘the right’ to do the same to gay people publicly in our businesses and our services supposedly ‘open to the public’?

        I do understand you point. But I suppose the issue is where does your right to discriminate according to your conscience begin and end in the public square? And is the person to decide that you or someone you have offended as ‘unworthy’ of your services offered publicly for money. ???

        It’s an old battle. ‘White only’ signs are now ‘Straight only’, and the Supreme Court says ‘no’ to this as ‘legal’. Something tells me that in twenty years, there will be other ‘signs’ posted in windows, and they may be directed at other minorities among us . . . we shall see . . . it is in our DNA to feel threatened by those who are different and strange to us, so human nature, fearful from the Fall, will re-enact the same drama again and again . . . only the name of the minority will change on the signs . . . until Our Lord returns to the Earth and all is made well with us.

  10. William Smith February 21, 2015 at 10:05 am #

    It’s a wonderful story but she’s going to lose.

    • Paul Reed February 21, 2015 at 7:29 pm #

      I was thinking the exact same thing. It’s like listening to a 10-year old girl tell you she wants to grow up and be a starting linebacker for the New England Patriot. Everyone’s telling her “go for it! pursue your dreams!”. And everyone just suppresses their intellect, but knows how this is going to end up.

  11. Nathan Cesal February 21, 2015 at 12:19 pm #

    “And if this kind of thing can be done to a 70-year-old grandmother running a small flower shop in rural Washington State, then it can be done to you.”

    And if this kind of thing can be done to a gay couple over flowers in rural Washington State, then it can be done to them with things like housing, employment, medical care, education, and other things more important than flowers.

    If you are going to sell flowers in my state, then the law says you have to sell them to both straight and gay couples. If that violates your conscience, then don’t sell flowers in Washington.

    • Samuel Yates February 21, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

      It’s really not hard to understand. She does sell to straight and gay people, and presumably purple and green people if they happen to come buy flowers. What she does not wish to do is explicitly support or participate in an *action* that violates her conscience and personal beliefs.

      • Nathan Cesal February 21, 2015 at 3:08 pm #

        It’s really not hard to understand. If you sell wedding flowers in Washington, you have to sell to people who will have a wedding of any type. If you can’t do that, then don’t sell wedding flowers. There. Consciences are appeased.

        This might create a hardship, but why should a business person’s conscience create a hardship for others rather than for themselves? I agree with an objection that would say a denial of florist services doesn’t create much of a hardship. Denial of business services in this manner is problematic, though, because you systematically create a stigmatized group of people and you pave the way to legally reject gay people on weightier matters. It’s also problematic because it’s against the law.

        • syates21 February 21, 2015 at 4:19 pm #

          The point is that she clearly wouldn’t offer the service to to a straight person who wanted to “marry” their brother either. So there is no discrimination against a class of person at all. To my knowledge, activities do not have constitutionally protected rights.

          • Linda jackson February 25, 2015 at 8:47 am #

            It is illegal so no marriage license would be issued. Point is moot.

            • Peaceful In Seattle February 25, 2015 at 2:27 pm #

              Why should that stay illegal, Linda?

        • Bob Wilson February 21, 2015 at 5:21 pm #

          In this case you are right. And I wish this florist was left alone. But in a broader context I am troubled. I have yet to hear from traditionalist Christians what they truely want. I have asked repeatedly on this site if Christians wish to be able to deny a much larger range of services–indeed all except emergency care–to gays and haven’t gotten an answer. How about employment–should any employer be able to fire gays? Or just Christian schools?

          What do Christians ideally want?

          • Bob Wilson February 21, 2015 at 6:04 pm #

            But I’m still curious about the logical consequence of your position. So you wish to be able to refuse rental housing to gays? OK. And presumably you wish many more people were Christians as you are. The logical consequence is that in your ideal world gays could not rent housing.

            I’m always puzzled by Christians who say, “They can just go to another baker, florist, appartment complex, etc” But IDEALLY they wish there were no businesses who would provide such services to gays.

            That’s why I keep asking, HOW MANY services should Christians refuse to gay people? How many employers should refuse to employ gay people?

          • melina February 21, 2015 at 10:23 pm #

            You’re assuming traditionalist Christians want to deny practicing homosexuals their basic rights. This isn’t so. All those things which we all need and which are declared by God as good should be available to all; health care, employment, schooling and marriage, (a man to a woman). But some people who practice homosexuality are adding their own demands based specifically on their sexual prefferences. They no longer want to accept marriage as God has decreed; now they wish to change it to one man and one man, or one woman and one woman. So, in answer to your question, traditional Christians would like all people regardless of sexual orientation or religious beliefs or racial heritage to have available to them all those things which God deems good.

            • Bob Wilson February 22, 2015 at 2:23 pm #

              Thank you for this reply. I’ve asked this question several time before and gotten no response. I’m certainly glad to hear you affirm that the right to buy essential goods applies to all.

              I’ve ask this question because so many times I hear Christians say they should be able to follow their beliefs without saying what the limits are.

            • Belinda Butler February 24, 2015 at 11:28 pm #

              Very well written. To me it comes down to one agenda being pushed on someone who disagrees. This was a country founded on freedom of religion and other basic rights. Forcing your beliefs on someone else is wrong.

  12. raj k February 21, 2015 at 12:39 pm #

    It is about freedom of conscience and practice of ones religious beliefs. With regard to LGBT a Christian cannot be in agreement with the client because the bible is clear that they would work against God. There is no parallel with race issues because the bible is clear we are all made in God’s image. Compare like with like.

  13. Alison February 21, 2015 at 4:43 pm #

    God bless you Baronelle! Praying for you and your life to be a shining example to many as you stand in the truth.

  14. Aaron Bond February 21, 2015 at 9:29 pm #

    No federal ,State or Local government should be allowed to force anyone to sell or perform a service to anyone they choose not to, no matter the reason. I as a Christian fill that if my sister in Christ has convictions about selling or performing a service that clearly violates scripture from the Old Testament and New Testament ( Gen ch: 18, Lev ch:18, Rom ch:1, 1Cor ch:6, 1Tim ch1) it is her right to not do it and not be forced to do so.
    For ones that do not believe as I and other fellow believers in Jesus Christ that is your choice

    • James Stanton February 22, 2015 at 7:16 pm #

      Should a business owner be able to deny service to a customer because they are white or black or handicapped? I’m not sure you believe that but words matter.

      I’m not talking about the right to religious liberty. I don’t believe that the government should violate the rights of believers as in this particular case. I’m concerned about these blanket statements of the supremacy and moral superiority of the owners of property or a business over what is right and moral in society.

  15. Ann February 22, 2015 at 1:33 pm #

    Many people are missing one very important point. Marriage is a sacrament in the Christian church. She sells flowers to homosexuals, she employs LBGT persons, etc. She appears to have great love and friendships with her customers. But, the ceremony itself is a sacrament in her church.

    She is the epitomy of loving the sinner, but refusing to participate in what she believes is the sin.

    • Brian Sanders February 24, 2015 at 10:57 pm #

      Ann: I so agree that she is the epitome of loving the sinner, she has a long standing relationship with these people. If she had hostility towards them this whole thing would have a very different flavor. I do not know how this is going to plsy out. The State Attorney General has bitten off quite a lot and clearly was expecting her to back down and that is not going to happen. I predict at a minimum, this is one Attorney General who will never be elected again.

  16. Laura Morris February 22, 2015 at 8:07 pm #

    I read an article this morning that said a Christian pediatrician said that she would not be able to develop the necessary doctor-patient relationship with an infant because the child’s parents were a same-sex couple. For those of you who are familiar with medical missions, you know that offering medical care and treatment while presenting the gospel is often an entry point into a non-believer’s life and can have a great impact. I’m not seeking to diminish standing up for one’s faith, but couldn’t the same thing be true in relation to more tangible things, like food, clothing, and shelter? Many non-Christians are drawn to and want to know about the God of a people who care about them. Just knowing that you are opposed to their lifestyle but still treat them with dignity as a human can have a huge impact in softening a callous heart. It’s all a work of the Holy Spirit.

    The Bible says that if our enemy is hungry, we should feed him. And if he is thirsty, we should give them a drink of water (Romans 12). I think that when we are talking about the needs of the body, we have this wide range of ways that we can gain access to unbelievers lives and influence them for the gospel. Maybe that is why Jesus was characterized as being a friend of sinners? Because He ate and drank with them. Do we refuse to eat and drink with the people Jesus ate and drank with? Do we refuse to give food or drink to people who are sinners and our enemies? Some may think that to offer services to people in unrepentant sin is to approve and condone of their lifestyle. But this cannot be true! When Paul wrote that we are to love our enemies by giving them food and water, the enemies of his day killed Christians by burning them alive and feeding them to lions. If anyone had the right to refuse food and drink to an enemy, wouldn’t it be Paul and the Christians in those days? Maybe our “enemy” today is the gay couple in a cake shop, or the homosexual couple who wants to rent an apartment in our complex.

    The Bible says that God causes the sun to rise on the just and the unjust and that He sends His rain on the righteous and the unrighteous alike (Matt. 5:45). That means that God gives the unrighteous food to eat, flowers to smell, and even treats like cake, all without condoning or approving of their sin. That also means that God has given gay people these things, too. If God has already give them these things we are withholding, are we representing Him when we refuse to sell them what we make in our profession? It’s an honest question.

    Honestly, I still am wrestling as to where I should land on this case. I know that the Bible says we should do good to our enemies, and I do not see being an instrument of God’s common grace as giving parent approval of a sinful lifestyle. I do not believe that religious leaders like pastors should be forced to perform wedding ceremonies of gay couples whose lifestyle they cannot condone, because that really would be an infringement upon religious freedom. But when it comes to the needs of the body, like food, shelter, clothing, or even medical care, I humbly suggest we may need to reassess our position of refusing service. No one can accuse God of condoning sin, but He sustains sinful people with roofs over their heads, medical care, food, clothing, flowers, and even treats like cake. God’s common grace is given to all mankind, believers and nonbelievers. But the nonbeliever simply does not acknowledge (yet) the Giver of this common grace. We can be instruments in informing them about this.

    I can only humbly suggest that an exchange with a gay couple at a cake shop could look like something like this:

    “God has a better plan for marriage than what you are pursuing right now. Let me tell you about how the man’s pursuit of the wife points to the way God pursues people, like you and me. Jesus loves you so much that He was willing to come to this earth and die for your sins. We all sin in many ways, and sin separates us from God. But God made a way for us to be reconciled to God through His Son, Jesus Christ. That is why marriage between a man and a woman is so very important, because it points to this reality.

    I am glad that you see what beautiful cakes God has given us the privilege of baking here in this shop. But we recognize that God is the one who gave us the talent to decorate these cakes, and we bake these cakes as unto the Lord and not unto men, because we know that He is the One who has given us the skills and talents to make them. Apart from Him, we can do nothing.

    Here is your cake. Think of it as a message from God that says, “Please return to Me with all of your heart, and you will find what your heart has been searching for.” And when you bite into this cake and taste the whipped butter cream and frosting, please remember that Jesus was whipped, beaten, tortured and died on the cross for the things you are doing right now. Because our sins rightfully deserve punishment, Jesus took the punishment of your sin and my sin upon Himself.

    What you are doing as an act of your free will has separated you from the One who loves you more than anyone in this world: God. He doesn’t want you to be separated from Him. He wants a relationship with you. But living in a way that He says is wrong will separate you from Him for your entire life, and when you die, for all of eternity.

    The cake has been made with deep love and devotion to my God. But I cannot celebrate with you or congratulate you because your lifestyle is separating you from the One who died for the choices you are making, because He loves you that much. The cake is a gift from God, something that was intended to point you to His great love and care for you. He is pursuing you and He wants a relationship with you. Please remember that as you eat this cake. Here is my business card, and if you have questions about anything that I have said today, please feel free to call me. Or come see me again and we’ll talk. ”

    So by this witnessing, we acknowledge God as being the Giver of every good gift, including the cake, and we point to the One who is pursuing them as individuals. They may never look at a cake the same way again, and we would have presented the gospel to them. The cake itself is a means of common grace. It came from the eggs and flour and sugar that God caused to grow and be given to the just and the unjust alike.

    It is not my intention to slight anyone or to diminish the importance of standing for our faith. All I am trying to say is that when Romans 12:20 says that if we feed or give drink to our enemy, it is like heaping burning coals on their head, so we should not underestimate the impact of treating people with civility and kindness, because people are made in the image of God. We can serve people simply because they have been made in the image of God.

    God is allowing nonbelievers to experience common grace on this earth, and we should point that out to them at every opportunity. One day that common grace will be removed. But right now, it is intended to point people to the Giver of the gift. We might obscure that message by refusing service. It would also be so sad if one day the roles were reversed and gay people refuse to serve Christians, and when we ask why they say, “Because this is the way that you treated me.”

    • Peaceful In Seattle February 22, 2015 at 9:55 pm #

      Laura,
      Take away freedom of choice, you take away grace. The choice to participate in the wedding should be hers and hers alone, regardless if even God wants her to do it. Are we to tell each other what the other MUST do? May that never be. This country was formed in large part to flee that kind of oppression. If we are no longer a harbor of freedom,where can anyone go?

      • Laura Morris February 22, 2015 at 10:20 pm #

        Hello Peaceful in Seattle,

        I am not advocating taking away anyone’s freedom of choice. I only wanted to point out that we as Christians might want to consider how treating people humanely gives us access and influence in unbelievers’ lives.

    • Kathy Bedwell February 23, 2015 at 1:16 am #

      Laura Morris your comment so embodies the true gospel of Christ. Thank you so much for a biblically-centered way to look at this difficult issue. We Christians are called to glorify God and to live gospel-centered lives. That is not the same thing as religious freedoms we have in this country and as Christians we need to prayerfully and carefully think through these issues to see which reaction would most honor Christ and be an ambassador to present the grace and mercy and love of Christ. What you have said I think boldly proclaims the Gospel and and shows great love toward sinners while still hating their sin, just as Christ does. May God help us all to be wise as serpents and yet gentle as doves in how we deal with all of these issues.

      • Christiane Smith February 23, 2015 at 6:47 am #

        Hi KATHY,
        it is biblical, yes . . . Our Lord Himself came to the tables of those who were despised by the Pharisees, and He sat with sinners and ate with them. People didn’t ‘get it’ then, and they may not see even today how what was happening there between Him and those sinners and it impacts the way we are to follow Him in our modern times, when ‘the others’ have new labels and are as condemned as those sinners in His day long ago.

        How is it we are to be with people different from us ?
        . . . can we shun the sin and sit with the sinner . . . or is it only those of us who realize that the people we have labeled are more to Christ and therefore more to us than the label they bear, and the path they are now following.

        Mrs. Baronelle Stutzman did what she thought was right, by conscience, and we can understand and respect that. There are other Christian people who would see a different perspective, taken also from sacred Scripture, and they would find another way to be with the situation, also according to their consciences.

        In the end, some of us cannot do what Our Lord did in going to the sinners’ table, no; but we should understand that there may be another way for us to better reflect the One Who did sit with sinners than we have so far been able to do.
        And we look to Our Lord again to enable us find that better way. May it be so.

    • Lynn B. February 24, 2015 at 11:05 pm #

      Laura: You may want to listen to this short interview with the florist and her lawyer. She has a very grace giving relationship with the gay couple. All you wrote has merit but it lacks application to this situation.

      http://video.foxnews.com/v/4077142022001/exclusive-florist-who-refuses-to-do-gay-wedding-speaks-out/?playlist_id=2694949842001#sp=show-clips

      • Laura Morris February 25, 2015 at 1:56 am #

        Hello Lynn B,

        I watched the video. It’s good to know that Mrs. Stutzman has a grace-giving relationship with the same-sex couple. Mrs. Stutzman is in my prayers.

        It certainly was never my aim to convince anyone of the applicability of my own words. I don’t pretend to have that kind of influence (or to be that smart). My only aim was to point people to God’s Word to remember that a) God’s common grace does point people to Him, and b) God not only brings about conviction by the things that are withheld, but also by the things that are given. We Christians are examples of that.

    • Linda jackson February 25, 2015 at 8:52 am #

      Laura you do that. You tell that to the next gay couple you become aware of that is getting married. Please give an update of your experience under this comment, it will be much appreciated.

  17. Carrie Tides February 23, 2015 at 1:22 am #

    I appreciate your coverage of this horrifying injustice. I want to respectfully suggest that when writing about these issues, you use the term homosexual instead of gay. The imposition of the word gay was the first step in the homosexualization of our culture.

    • Christiane Smith February 23, 2015 at 9:46 am #

      Hi CARRIE,
      might be best to use the word ‘person’ because the person should be what we see, instead of whatever ‘label’ we have been using or they have been using

      if you think about this, you might agree with me

  18. vicki February 23, 2015 at 9:13 am #

    Has anybody sent this woman money for her legal defense? Prayers are all well and good but her lawyers need to be paid and she will need money for living expenses.

    On all the blog posts of this case I have seen, and all the comments thereafter (and there are many), I have yet to see anyone post a means of financial help for this woman.

    Does anybody have that info?

  19. Bobby Singh February 23, 2015 at 9:46 am #

    I strongly feel that as Christian I have my basic rights to defend God’s word. That’s what Barronelle Stedzman is doing. While this holds true, the state has no rights to interfere in anyone’s religious belief system. She hasn’t done anything wrong by not selling bouquets to gay wedding couples. She is just standing up for her faith. But it doesn’t mean that she’s not tolerant towards the couple. We as Christians have as much rights to defend God’s word just as the gay couple have to their belief system. We have no moral obligation to cater to their belief system.

  20. Ian Shaw February 23, 2015 at 12:32 pm #

    Wow, she threw down a Judas reference. Didn’t see that coming.

  21. Derik February 23, 2015 at 9:03 pm #

    Thanks for the example. This is what we all should be doing

  22. Matthew Parr February 24, 2015 at 2:46 am #

    The Lady is a champ. Good for you mam.

  23. Belinda Butler February 24, 2015 at 11:26 pm #

    More Christians need to be strong and be willing to take a stand such as this faithful fellow Christian.

  24. Bryan Hunter February 25, 2015 at 3:16 pm #

    Many of you are missing the point. The real question is this – does a business owner have the right to refuse to do business with someone or not if it violates their conscience? The Constitution says “yes”. Forcing nuns to pay for contraception; forcing Hobby Lobby (who BTW pays for 16 types of birth control) to pay for drugs that induce abortion; forcing a florist to provide flowers for a homosexual wedding; forcing a Christian nurse to participate in an abortion – they are all the same issue. 20 years ago there wasn’t even a question about it. We are headed south folks; stand up for your rights before they are taken from us without a fight.

  25. Dawn Paul February 25, 2015 at 8:31 pm #

    Freedom is freedom. It goes both ways.

  26. Roy Fuller February 26, 2015 at 4:40 pm #

    And then there is this: A doctor refusing to treat a child because her parents are lesbians: http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/macomb/2015/02/18/discrimination-birth/23640315/

  27. Ben Edwards February 28, 2015 at 9:22 am #

    I am reading a book by Bryan Stone called Evangelism after Christendom. He makes the following observation after talking about how some Christians continue to grasp for being in the “center” of the culture instead of coming to grips with the fact that Christianity has become largely marginalized in American culture. He writes, “On another level, however, this evangelistic refusal of vulnerability, particularity, and marginality is finally a refusal of the way of the cross, a way that forgoes the privileges and security allied with winning and opts instead for costly obedience, incarnation, and gospel nonconformity.

    What the gospel needs most is not intellectual brokers or cultural diplomats but rather saints who have taken up the way of the cross and in whose lives the gospel is visible, palpable, and true. It needs disciples who follow Jesus with or without the support of their culture and for whom the power of the gospel is demonstrated not through winning but through obedience.

    Evangelism from the margins, then, requires no prior foundations in either human experience or reason that would somehow shore up the relevance, truth, power, or beauty of its gospel. It does, however, require a people that has been made into the temple of God in which the Spirit dwells, built upon the church’s only secure foundation, Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 3:10–17).”

    I believe that Barronelle Stutzman has taken up “the way of the cross” and that she is following Jesus without the support of her culture resulting in a costly obedience. Perhaps she is modeling for us what evangelism from the margins will look like in coming years. We may find that such a testimony has more far reaching, subversive influence than any attempt at a “moral majority” ever had.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Brave Grandma | The Old Preacher - February 21, 2015

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  3. Saturday Six (2/21/2015) | Thoughts from Everyday Life - February 21, 2015

    […] This story has been in the news for a few years now, but to give a recap, a florist in Washington refused to provide flowers for a customer’s gay wedding (note: he was a friend and regular customer of the florist). The state attorney general and the customer (with his partner) filed separate lawsuits, citing Washington’s anti-discrimination law, and won. Boyce College professor Denny Burk wrote a guest post for CNN.com on the consequences of the decision. He then follows up talking about the courage of the florist to turn down a settlement with the AG and risk losing her entire livelihood to stand up for her bibl…. […]

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    […] Real Courage – Denny Burk has the story on  his website about Barronelle Stutzman, a Washington State florist who is a Christian and refused to provide flowers for a gay wedding.  Her letter is stunning and inspiring.  Pray for her.  Mr. Burk’s article over at CNN is also worth your time. […]

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    […] Difficult path for Christian florist  I have somewhat heard of this story for the past few years, and can’t believe it is still in the news.  But I think we should be praying for this florist who is making a bold stand against a government gone too far out of bounds. […]

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    […] Florist Rejects Washington Attorney General’s Offer and Risks Everything. Denny Burk writes about Barronelle Stutzman, a 70-year old grandmother. She is a florist being sued by the state Attorney General for the state of Washington for refusing to participate in a gay wedding. The attorney general is trying to compel her to ignore her Christian faith and to participate in gay weddings. If she refuses, he is threatening the full coercive power of the state to force her to do it. She stands to lose everything—her home, her savings, her business, her livelihood—if she does not comply. […]

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