The other day I was with a group singing the National Anthem. When we got to the part about “the land of the free,” the word didn’t come out. I got as far as “the land of the —.” But I froze with the word “free” on my lips.
I was thinking about what I had read earlier that very day. A bureaucrat in these United States has ruled that a good Christian family of seven must face bankruptcy because they have supposedly caused a lesbian couple $135,000 worth of pain and suffering.
In fact, a complaint by one of the lesbians was that she “felt mentally raped, dirty and shameful.” And what was this terrible deed that was done? The bakers declined to make a wedding cake to celebrate the lesbian couple’s “wedding”—because the bakers’ religious convictions would not allow them to.
As Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council says of the case, “If you thought it was expensive to buy a wedding cake, try not baking one!”
At the center of the controversy are Melissa and Aaron Klein, whom I have interviewed for Christian television on Kennedy Classics. They are the founders of the now virtually-bankrupt “Sweet Cakes by Melissa.”
Ever since she was a child, Melissa Klein of Gresham, Oregon (near Portland) wanted to make beautiful, ornate, customized wedding cakes to help celebrate the big day in a couple’s life. She poured her heart and soul into making those cakes extra special.
Her husband Aaron said, “We did quite a few weddings; I’d probably say about 150-160 weddings a year. It was Oregon-based. We delivered…about a 700-mile range, and we had people that were willing to pay for that delivery because they wanted our cakes that badly.”
But in the new politically correct America, their sweet success was soon to turn sour.
In early 2013, when a lesbian customer—a repeat customer no less—wanted them to bake the cake for her same-sex “marriage,” the Kleins respectfully declined. While there were plenty of bakers around in town available to bake a wedding cake for the lesbian couple, they filed a complaint with Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries against the Kleins.
A campaign to drive customers and vendors away from Sweet Cakes by Melissa spread like a blazing fire, and the family had to close up shop. Now, maybe once or twice a month, Melissa makes a cake from home. But the business is basically gone.
What really stings Melissa is the reaction against them personally: “We’ve been accused of or called a hater, a bigot, every name that you can possibly think of in the book. At first, I won’t lie—it really hurt. Then it really hit me hard because it was like, ‘How am I a hater?’ Just because I don’t want to do something, do I not have rights to say what I want to do and what I don’t want to do? I shouldn’t have to be forced to do something that violates my religious beliefs especially.”
Now the Kleins face the huge fine they have been ordered to pay to the lesbian couple—$135,000 for “emotional damages.” This could bankrupt the couple and their five children.
Some well-wishers set up a GoFundMe page for the Kleins. $109,000 was reported to have poured in, until GoFundMe pulled the account because the Kleins are supposedly in violation of the law.
Their pro-bono attorney is Anna Harmon of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a consortium of attorneys fighting for religious liberty. D. James Kennedy and others founded it in 1994.
Harmon told me, “The state of Oregon has brought the full force of the law down on these people for simply deciding to stand by their religious beliefs. A person should be allowed under the Constitution to work in the marketplace and make a living without fear of having to go against what they believe in their heart of hearts to be true.”
Aaron has been forced into finding other work, now driving a garbage truck to help make ends meet for their family, which includes five children. He notes, “The Constitution guarantees my religious freedom. It does not guarantee your right to force your beliefs down my throat, and that’s realistically speaking that’s what’s going on here.”
Tragically, the Kleins are part of a growing number of such victims—at least 300—according to columnist Michael Brown. This includes bakers, florists, photographers, and now even an Indiana pizza shop owner.
These shops do not discriminate against gay people per se. They draw the line at catering an event that violates their religious beliefs. Rob Schwarzwalder of the Family Research Council has come up with a number of excellent analogies that virtually all of us can agree with.
The Supreme Court has now heard oral arguments on same-sex “marriage,” which is at odds with religious freedom. Tragically, the militant agenda of those promoting it are changing things so that America is no longer the land of the free.