LYNNWOOD, Wash., July 29, 2015 (ChurchMilitant.com) - In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex "marriage" in all 50 states, a legal advocacy group is warning churches to brace themselves for persecution.
The Family Policy Institute of Washington is organizing conferences with various churches throughout the state to offer guidance on legal issues to protect them from lawsuits. According to Joseph Backholm, executive director of the Institute, "There is an effort to target people, establish precedent, and to sue people so it becomes increasingly dangerous to state publicly or act on the belief that I believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman, that I believe gender is fixed and not fluid, and that I believe sexuality is best expressed within monogamous heterosexual marriage."
On Holy Matrimony, he says, "Those beliefs are now a legitimate legal liability and we have to recognize that."
"The reality of the new world that we are in [means] there is a desire to push [churches] further and further into the closet because of what they believe about marriage and sexuality and gender and those things."
The Institute is using a pamphlet from the Alliance Defending Freedom titled "Protecting Your Ministry from Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Lawsuits" to guide church leaders in how to protect themselves in the new legal regime. Blackholm criticizes the "liberal left" for its double standard on the issue of freedom.
"The left — They were the biggest defenders of the idea, 'I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to your death your right to say it. Now they are the ones trying to control every market-place decision so that no one is illegally 'mean.'"
This is evidenced in the case of Washington florist Baronelle Stutzman, forced to close down her flower shop after she was sued for refusing to cater a gay wedding, or Aaron and Melissa Klein of Sweet Cakes Bakery, an Oregon business also forced to shut down after being sued for not baking a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.
Blackholm says, "The tolerant thing to do is just say, 'Hey, I disagree with you. ... I'm going to find someone else. I'm not going to try to destroy your life or business.'"