Religious Liberty Scores Two Big Wins in Court

Earlier this week the Arizona Supreme Court handed religious liberty and freedom of speech a major win in the case of Brush & Nib v. Phoenix.

Like baker Jack Philips in Colorado, Brush & Nib were in the midst of a lawsuit that centered on whether or not the government can force Christians to take part in same-sex weddings and similar ceremonies.

In this case, Brush & Nib was concerned about a so-called “nondiscrimination ordinance” the City of Phoenix had passed.

The ordinance would have forced Brush & Nib to create invitations and other artwork for same-sex ceremonies in violation of the artists’ deeply-held religious convictions.

We’ve seen similar cases all over the country.

Thankfully, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled in Brush & Nib’s favor earlier this week.

John Stonestreet at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview writes,

Rejecting the city’s argument that Brush & Nib’s “custom wedding invitations are fungible products, like a hamburger or a pair of shoes,” Justice Gould acknowledged the “many hours” Brush & Nib owners Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski spend “designing and painting custom paintings, writing words and phrases, and drawing images and calligraphy.”

Because “Duka and Koski are involved in every aspect of designing and creating the invitations,” he continued, “and they retain substantial . . . artistic control over the messages that are expressed in the invitations,” they are more than mere “scribes.” Thus, to compel them to create custom invitations is to compel them to endorse the message in those invitations, which the Arizona constitution forbids.

In a similar ruling, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued an opinion in favor of Christian videographers Angel and Carl Larsen in their case against Minnesota’s “nondiscrimination” law.

The Brush & Nib case focuses on Arizona’s state constitution while the ruling in the Larsen’s case focuses on the U.S. Constitution.

Taken together, these rulings could signal that after years of losing in court, religious liberty might finally be gaining a little ground, but it’s still too soon to tell for sure.

Religious liberty still is under attack from radical activists as well as from wealthy corporations in the private sector. These recent court rulings, however, offer at least a faint glimmer of hope.

Drew Brees Takes Flak for “Bring Your Bible to School” Video

Last month New Orleans Saints quarterback and 2010 Super Bowl champion Drew Brees appeared in a YouTube video, where he encouraged students to bring their Bibles to school on October 3.

The video is part of the annual Bring your Bible to School Day sponsored by Focus on the Family.

Students all over the country are encouraged to exercise their religious liberties simply by taking their Bibles with them to school.

Bring Your Bible to School Day has grown into a major nationwide event in the past few years. In 2018 thousands of students across American reportedly participated.

You would think that a short video simply encouraging young people to take their Bibles to school with them on October 3 would be OK, but in the past few days pundits and Twitter users have mercilessly targeted Drew Brees for promoting an event tied to Focus on the Family.

According to the Washington Post, several people have accused Brees of aligning himself with an anti-LGBT “hate group.”

The backlash prompted Brees to issue a statement clarifying the video’s purpose, saying, “My intent with that video was to make a positive impact in the lives of some young people.”

It’s ridiculous that a 23-second video encouraging students to bring their Bibles to school would spark this kind of outrage, but it isn’t surprising any more.

Earlier this year actor Chris Pratt was placed in a similar position after actress Ellen Page accused the church Pratt attends in Los Angeles of being “infamously anti lgbtq.”

This week John Stonestreet at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview published a commentary about the ways radical activists pressure others to sever ties with any church or organization they deem “hateful.”

Stonestreet writes,

The influence of these groups, especially the [pro-LGBT] Human Rights Campaign, is incredible . . .

The main strategy comes by weaponizing so-called “hate group lists.” Once groups . . . are designated as “hate groups” . . . corporations are pressured to cut ties with any and all organizations that bear the scarlet ‘H.’

Consider the “Amazon Smile” program. When participants in the program make a purchase on Amazon, half-a-percent of the price of their purchase can be designated as a donation to the charity of their choice. Zero-point-five percent might not sound like much, but as of last fall, Amazon had donated more than $100 million to eligible charities through the Smile program.

In response to outside pressure, Amazon now excludes any organization designated as a “hate group” from the program. So, [Alliance Defending Freedom], the Family Research Council, and others are barred from “Amazon Smile.”

Like we’ve said before, if you don’t believe religious liberty and rights of conscience are under attack, just try exercising those freedoms.

Situations like these are why Family Council has worked so hard to protect religious liberty and rights of conscience in Arkansas. It’s also why we don’t need to do anything that would undermine those liberties.

Photo by Keith Allison [CC BY-SA 2.0 (]