The Declaration of Independence was adopted 243 years ago today. The individuals who signed this document did so at great risk. They were facing the very real possibility of being considered traitors by their fellow citizens and even being captured and put to death.
Still, these brave citizens did what they knew was right. And because of their stand, today we are blessed to live in one of the freest nations the world has ever seen.
But our freedoms are being increasingly challenged. Thankfully, there are brave citizens who, like our Founders, are willing to take a stand—even though they may face major consequences. Here are four such Americans who are taking a stand for freedom.
1. Tom Rost
Tom Rost owns and operates Harris Funeral Homes, a family-owned business that has been ministering to grieving family in the Detroit area for over 100 years. But right now, this business is in jeopardy. And all Tom did was follow existing employment law.
The funeral home has a professional code of conduct and a sex-specific dress code to ensure that the families and friends of a deceased loved one can focus on processing their grief rather than on the funeral home and its employees. Harris Funeral Home had to part ways with a biological male employee who agreed to follow the sex-specific dress code at the time of hiring, then announced an intent to start presenting and dressing as a woman nearly six years later.
Because of this, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued Tom even though businesses are allowed to have sex-specific dress codes under the law. But that didn’t matter – unelected officials at the EEOC decided to redefine “sex” to mean “gender identity” to punish Tom and his business. The EEOC has since changed course and now supports the funeral home, but the ACLU is still raising arguments that will effectively redefine “sex” in federal law.
Unfortunately, this means Tom and his family have been sucked into a years-long legal battle, even though all he did was follow the law. But Tom continues to stand for his freedom—all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where his case will be argued this October 8th.
2. Barronelle Stutzman
Barronelle is a 74-year-old grandmother and floral artist from Washington State. In 2013, Barronelle respectfully declined to create floral arrangements celebrating a longtime customer’s same-sex wedding. Barronelle cares deeply for this customer, whom she considered a friend, but she could not use her talents to create floral art that celebrates a view of marriage in conflict with her religious beliefs.
The Washington State Attorney General sued Barronelle, not just in her role as a business owner, but in her personal capacity as well. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also filed a lawsuit against Barronelle, similarly naming her in her personal capacity. This means that if Barronelle loses her cases, she could lose everything—not only the floral business that her mother owned, but also her life savingsF.
Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court sent Barronelle’s case back to the Washington Supreme Court to be reevaluated in light of its decision in Jack Phillips’s case, Masterpiece Cakeshop. But on June 6 of this year, the Washington Supreme Court ruled against Barronelle a second time. This means Barronelle will be going back to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Barronelle’s case has been full of unimaginable ups and downs. But she continues to stand strong in her convictions and fights for her—and our—freedom to live out her faith.
3. Blaine Adamson
Blaine Adamson is the managing owner of a small printing business in Lexington, Kentucky called Hands on Originals. In 2012, he received a request to create a shirt from the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO) that would promote the group’s upcoming pride festival. Blaine knew he couldn’t print the shirts because the message on it conflicted with his conscience [can we say “religious beliefs” instead?].
So Blaine offered to refer the GLSO to another print shop that would create the shirts for the same price he would have charged. This is nothing unusual—Blaine often refers projects with messages that conflict with his beliefs. He serves every person, but he cannot print every message.
That wasn’t enough for the GLSO. So it filed a complaint against Blaine with the local government. Since then, Blaine has been in court and faced unfair backlash in his local media—his mayor even spoke out against him.
But Blaine continues to fight for his freedom of conscience. And he’s won twice! But the government keeps appealing. The Kentucky Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in his case on August 23.
4. Selina Soule
Selina is a 16-year-old high-school student at Glastonbury High School in Connecticut. Like many track athletes her age, Selina has devoted countless days, nights, and weekends to training, striving to shave mere fractions of a second off her race times.
Yet, despite her hard work, Selina knows that when she stands at the starting line in state competitions, she has little chance of winning. That’s because the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) has allowed two biological males to compete in women’s events for the past two years.
This year, Selina came in eighth place for the 55-meter dash at the Connecticut indoor track championships—just one spot away from competing in the New England Regional championships, where college scouts would be in attendance. The first and second places went to biological males.
Selina knew that this was blatantly unfair for female athletes. So, with the help of Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys, she filed a Title IX complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
Many female athletes are affected by CIAC’s policy. But almost no one has spoken out—fearing public backlash. But not Selina. This young athlete has bravely spoke up for her freedom to compete on a level playing field.
Today, we honor our country. And we celebrate that America was founded on the principle that every individual has the right to live out their God-given freedoms.
Tom, Barronelle, Blaine, and Selina are continuing the American tradition of fighting for freedom. Because it isn’t just their freedom that’s at stake—it’s all of ours.
Happy Independence Day!