BLOGIn WashPo’s Words: Freedom of Conscience Is Worth Protecting

By Sarah Kramer Posted on: | January 13, 2017

With a wave of designers – starting with Sophie Theallet – proclaiming that they will not dress the president-elect’s wife or daughter, the Washington Post took it upon themselves to tackle the question: “Should designers dress Melania and Ivanka?”

Their answer might surprise you.

Here’s why: the argument justifying these designers’ refusal to dress Melania or Ivanka Trump is very similar to the arguments we make for our clients who have declined to use their artistic talents to promote events and messages that violate their faith.

To prove my point, here are a few quotes from the article:

“Like other creative individuals, Theallet sees fashion as a way of expressing her views about beauty and the way women are perceived in society. Fashion is her tool for communicating her world vision. In the same way that a poet’s words or a musician’s lyrics are a deeply personal reflection of the person who wrote them, a fashion designer’s work can be equally as intimate.”

When our clients such as Barronelle Stutzman, a Washington florist, and Jack Phillips, a Colorado cake artist, create a unique product, they are similarly expressing their worldview. Their creative talents are a medium for communication and are “a deeply personal reflection of themselves.”

The Washington Post continues:

“For all these designers, their clothes are commodities, certainly, but they also have an artful point of view that is distinctly personal.”

I don’t think I could have said this better myself: “For [our clients], their [floral arrangements or cake creations] are commodities, certainly, but they also have an artful point of view that is distinctly personal.”

The author of the Washington Post article notes that fashion designers do not have to put aside their reservations and moral ideals and simply “make the dress.”

The author distinguishes between refusing to sell a mass-produced dress and declining to create a custom dress for the first lady or a celebrity. While the first situation is an impermissible denial of services, the second is not.

Sound familiar? It should. These are the same points we’ve been making about our clients.

Indeed, our clients have no qualms with providing pre-arranged flowers or pre-made cookies and brownies. Conscience becomes an issue when our clients are creating something custom – when they must pour themselves and their creative talents into the project. They simply cannot pour themselves into a project that requires them to reject the most important part of themselves and the very thing that inspires their creativity – their faith.

In the end, the author comes to this conclusion:

“But as for those designers for whom fashion serves as their voice in the world, they should not feel obligated to say something in which they do not believe.

Can I get an amen?  

Sarah Kramer

Digital Content Specialist

Sarah worked as an investigative reporter before joining the Alliance Defending Freedom team.

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