Sometimes, it falls to one legal case to illumine the importance of another one.
As I mentioned last week, we should know anytime now whether the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in the case of Elane Photography – a case that is quickly taking on extraordinary dimensions in its implications for human dignity, American law, and religious freedom. At stake is whether individuals can be compelled by the government to lend their hearts and talents to promote, celebrate, and/or commemorate an event or activity that conflicts with their most conscientious religious beliefs and moral convictions.
Surrendering one’s conscience, according to one New Mexico Supreme Court justice, is “the price of citizenship” in America today. Now, the U.S. Supreme Court is deciding whether to hear arguments that establishing such a “price” effectively rejects the deepest truths of America's founding, our Constitution, and the most enduring principles of a free society.
And yet … so many in our nation today remain largely oblivious to this case, and its implications. They are unaware of the extraordinary legal pressures being exerted on many of their fellow citizens, and particularly people of faith, throughout this country, by the Obama administration and groups like Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.
Perhaps a case now unfolding in Canada will open a few more eyes to what lies in store for our own country, if a hearing in the Elane Photography case is denied.
A Toronto pastor, Randy Harris – a devout Christian and ordained minister – was asked to officiate at the marriage ceremony of “Matthew Commandant and Rui Oliveira.” Knowing “Rui” as a not uncommon female name in the Orient, Reverend Harris assumed the couple was a man and a woman. As he prepared for the ceremony, he learned differently. He told the two men that, due to his religious convictions and the requirements of his denomination, he would not be able to perform their ceremony, and, apologizing for his mistake, refunded their fee.
The two men were not satisfied, and filed a discrimination lawsuit against the pastor with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, asking for reimbursement of their travel costs (which Pastor Harris had already offered), and $1,000 each for “injury to dignity.” But that’s not all. They are also demanding that Harris be required to undergo “sensitivity” training, as well as attend meetings of LGBT organizations. And they are pushing for a government order requiring all marriage officiates in the province to perform any kind of ceremony, for anyone who asks – regardless of the officiate’s religious beliefs.
This is the logical – indeed, inevitable – next step for legal proceedings in our own country, if the rulings like the one against the owners of Elane Photography are allowed to stand. All too often, those pressing the homosexual legal and political agenda are not interested in "tolerance" or
a “live-and-let-live” society. Many are demanding that all people of faith bow to the new Caesar … embracing, affirming, applauding, funding, and encouraging homosexual behavior.
To secure our public spiritual endorsement of their choices, they are willing to suppress human dignity, rewrite the Constitution, erase religious liberty, close down our businesses. And in time, if we persist in resisting, even these will not be enough.
This is why I ask for your prayers – for our Allied Attorney in Canada, Albertos Polizogopoulos, who is handling Pastor Harris’ case (we are also helping to fund his defense), for the Tribunal that will hear the case, and for the hearts and minds of our own justices at the U.S. Supreme Court, who will be monitoring what happens in Canada even as they decide whether to hear the case of our friends at Elane Photography. So much more is at stake than we want to imagine.
Please – pray.