Carl and Angel Larsen are usually behind the camera. But this past weekend, they reversed that role when they appeared on Fox & Friends to talk about their recent win at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
The Larsens started their own filmmaking business, Telescope Media Group, because they love telling stories. “My wife and I are storytellers,” Carl said. “And every story we tell, we want to tell in a way that is honoring to God and serves our clients.”
They were hoping to begin making videos telling wedding and marriage stories. But the Larsens soon discovered that Minnesota officials interpreted a state law to mean that if they tell stories about marriage between a man and a woman, they must also tell stories celebrating different conceptions of marriage. If they decline, the Larsens would face substantial fines and even jail time.
The Larsens serve everyone, but they cannot express every message—especially messages that conflict with their religious beliefs. “As creative story professionals, we all do this,” said Angel. “We look at the message and never the person.”
The way this Minnesota law was being interpreted clearly violated the Larsens’ First Amendment rights. With the help of attorneys from Alliance Defending Freedom, the Larsens challenged the law in court.
And in August, they received a huge win. The Eighth Circuit ruled in their favor—it reinstated their case (which was dismissed by the lower court) and ruled that the state can’t force the Larsens to express messages through their films that violate their religious convictions.
This isn’t just a win for the Larsens, but for all Americans. “Regardless of what people believe, freedom is essential,” said Carl. “And the government not having the power to coerce people to promote things that are against their beliefs is absolutely good for everyone.”