Minnesota persecutes Christian couple
Carl and Angel Larsen live in St. Cloud, Minnesota. They are an openly Christian couple who operate Telescope Media Group, a video production company. Their website proclaims: "Telescope Media Group exists to glorify God through top-quality media production. As much as it depends on us, we aim to make God look more like He really is through our lives, business, and actions. We want to magnify Christ like a telescope."
Carl and Angel Larsen
They want to expand into making wedding videos and movies. In keeping with their mission statement, they want to glorify God by focusing only on God-pleasing marriages. Since God defines homosexual acts as sinful in the Bible, these relationships cannot be God-pleasing. The Larsens should have the freedom to choose their clients in a way that fulfills their business plan. (Note: The Larsens are making no attempts to get homosexual relationships banned or force their religious views on others.)
Minnesota disagrees and is using the power of the state to persecute the Larsens and other Christians.
Minnesota's Democrat attorney general, Keith Ellison, has interpreted the state's Human Rights Act to mandate that the Larsens also make films celebrating homosexual same-sex "marriages." Penalties include payment of a civil penalty to the state, triple compensatory damages, punitive damages of up to $25,000, a criminal penalty of up to $1,000, and even up to 90 days in jail. No exemptions for religious freedom.
The Larsens sued Minnesota in federal court for this violation of their constitutional rights. Minnesota eagerly accepted the legal challenge.
Court records reveal the zeal Minnesota has used to force homosexual "weddings" on the citizenry — even setting up sting operations against Christians. "It has even employed 'testers' to target noncompliant businesses, and it has already pursued a successful enforcement action against a wedding vendor who refused to rent a venue for a same-sex wedding [sic]." (The large Somali Muslim community has not been targeted by Ellison to date. Ellison is a Muslim.)
Minnesota won the first round. Minneapolis U.S. district judge John Tunheim (appointed by Clinton) ruled against the Larsens.
The Larsens won round two. On appeal, a three-judge panel on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the Larsens. Judges David Stras (Trump appointee) and Bobby E. Shepherd (W. Bush appointee) ruled for the Larsens; Judge Jane Kelly (Obama appointee) ruled against the Larsens.
Rather than accept this loss, or appealing to the Supreme Court, A.G. Keith Ellison has filed a new case in federal court against the Larsens. This begins to look like lawfare, with Ellison using the massive resources of a state government to force a small business to either surrender or be bankrupted with legal costs. The Alliance Defending Freedom is representing the Larsens to help reduce the massive legal costs.
Notice that every Democrat-appointed judge ruled to create a constitutional compulsion to force video artists to create content they do not believe in, while every Republican-appointed judge ruled in favor of religious freedom. (The Constitution is silent on sexual orientation.)
The Larsens' case offers insight with respect to the positions taken by the national political parties.
The current Minnesota government is hostile to religious freedom for Christians and freedom in general.
Numerous Republican-led states filed court briefs in support of the Larsens. Numerous states with Democrat governments filed court briefs supporting Minnesota.
Did Minnesotans realize they were electing an attorney general who would spend tax dollars seeking out and targeting Christian businesses who did not want to participate in homosexual "weddings"?
If Minnesota's government can force a Christian couple to participate in homosexual ceremonies against their will, can it force pastors to perform the homosexual "weddings"? This is a grave danger to religious freedom.
Scot Wolf is the author of The Bible and Constitution Made America Great By Providing Freedom and Liberty to Citizens, available in hardcover at Amazon.com and at www.RestoretheFoundation.com, or as a Nook or Kindle eBook.