BLOGThis Michigan Farmer Was Told to Keep His Beliefs to Himself, Or Face the Consequences

By Sarah Kramer Posted on: | July 13, 2017

When someone posted on Country Mill Farms’ Facebook page, asking whether they would host a same-sex wedding, the Tennes family gave an honest answer. As Catholics, the Tennes family believes what the Bible says about marriage: that it is between one man and one woman. The Tennes family stated their beliefs and indicated that they would refer these events to a nearby farm.

They never thought that a city 22 miles away would punish them for simply stating their beliefs. But that’s exactly what happened.

Upon seeing this statement, the city of East Lansing decided to ban Country Mill from its Farmers Market, which they had been attending for seven years to sell their produce. The city claimed that by communicating about their religious beliefs, the Tennes family was in violation of the city’s sexual orientation gender identity ordinance.

But the Constitution protects the Tennes family’s right to speak about their religious beliefs, without fear of government punishment – and certainly without fear of being punished by a government 22 miles away.

Not only is this a major constitutional violation, it is a major overreach by East Lansing officials. 




Steve and Bridget Tennes strive to live their lives in a way that reflects Christ’s love and raise their five children according to their beliefs. Their faith guides the way that they operate their farm; it is central to their life.

The right to communicate our beliefs without fear of punishment should be a freedom that our government actively works to preserve, even if it disagrees.

That’s why the city of East Lansing kicking Country Mill out of its Farmers Market is so outrageous, and why Alliance Defending Freedom is taking legal action on behalf of the Tennes family. Our government should be protecting our rights, not punishing us for exercising our freedom. And the government certainly should not be reaching outside its jurisdiction just to advance its political agenda.

The political winds of the government change every time we elect new representatives. The government may be punishing the Tenneses now for speaking about their biblical view of marriage, but it could punish any one of us for speaking a message it doesn’t like in the future.


That’s why we must work to uphold our foundational freedoms for everyone – including those with whom we disagree.

ADF is working hard to preserve this freedom for the Tennes family, so that our constitutional freedoms continue to be preserved for generations to come.

But we cannot do any of this without your support, which enables us to provide Christians like the Tennes family with the legal support they need to stand up to powerful government forces. Will you stand with the Tennes family and with ADF to secure our freedoms for generations to come?

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Sarah Kramer

Digital Content Specialist

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

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