Should the government be able to force Christian photographers to shoot pictures of gay weddings if the photographers have strong spiritual reservations about not doing so? Such was the ruling in a recent court case. The US Supreme Court had the option to hear the case and overturn the ruling, but they refused and let the ruling stand.
Vanessa Willock sent an email in 2006 asking several wedding photographers if they would be willing to photograph a same-sex “commitment ceremony.” Her email stated ” This is a same-gender ceremony. If you are open to helping us celebrate our day we’d like to receive pricing information.”
Elaine Huguenin, who owns the Christian photography shop along with her husband, replied, ” We do not photograph same-sex weddings, but again, thanks for checking out our site! Have a great day.”
Elaine Huguenin did make it clear during testimony in court that she would be willing to serve the couple in other contexts besides a wedding ceremony. In the past, she had refused to service clients who wanted nude or violent images.
The New Mexico Supreme Court, though, did not agree with the Huguenins’ choice to turn down a client on the basis of strongly held religious beliefs. Instead, they found Elane Photography guilty and ordered it to pay close to $7,000 to Willock.
Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, spoke out about what he felt was a bad decision:
“At issue is the fundamental question of whether the state can pretend to be a god over the conscience,” Moore said. “No one is seeking to outlaw photographers from working at same-sex marriage or civil union ceremonies. At issue is whether these persons will be forced by the coercive power of the state to participate in something they believe to be sinful.
“The audacity of the New Mexico Supreme Court in saying that the crucifixion of conscience is the price of citizenship is breathtaking. This ruling is more in the spirit of Nero Caesar than in the spirit of Thomas Jefferson. This is damaging not only to the conscience rights of Christians, but to all citizens. When we decide, as a country, that state power trumps the rights of conscience, we are treading on self-evident, inalienable rights, granted not by government but by God.”
Mr. Moore is not the only figure to be outraged by eroding religious liberty in America. Senator Ted Cruz spoke recently at Liberty University in Virginia, where he stated that “religious freedom has never been more under assault.” While these results should be concerning for all religions, the lion’s share of the assault seems to be directed at Christians who maintain orthodox beliefs. Why there should be so much venom directed at a religion with the cardinal virtues of faith, hope, and love, seems perplexing in a culture in desperate need of each of these three things.