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Photographer's Case Puts Religious Freedom in Focus

Tony Perkins · Nov. 22, 2019

“My highest aim in life is to honor God — and that informs everything I do, business included.” For Kentucky photographer Chelsey Nelson, her work is personal. “When I look back on my life when I’m older, I want to be able to say that I stayed true to this goal.” Unfortunately for Chelsey, the city of Louisville is doing everything they can to elbow Christians like her out of the market. But if they thought that would be easy, they’re about to find out how wrong they are.

Like the brave owners of Brush & Nib Studio, Chelsey isn’t waiting for the extremists to come after her. She’s going after their law — in court. “We don’t force LGBT web designers to create content condemning same-sex marriage for a church,” her suit states. “Or force Muslim printers to design anti-Islam flyers for a synagogue. The First Amendment protects these speakers’ freedom. Louisville should not take the same freedom away from Chelsey just because she wants to speak in favor of one particular view on marriage.”

For Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), who’s fought to protect other small businesses from this kind of coercion, has a good case against the city. Like so many other Christian vendors, Chelsey explains that she “serve[s] everyone regardless of who they are. I just don’t photograph every wedding requested of me.” And that’s her right. One that an overwhelming majority of Americans support.

In a new nationwide poll by Becket, nearly 90 percent of Americans said people like Chelsey “should be able to choose their faith practice without facing discrimination or harm.” Another 76 percent agree with the Trump administration, whose new HHS rules give the medical industry the freedom to say no to procedures that run counter to their convictions. More than three-quarters “said professionals should have the freedom not to participate in actions or work that violates sincere religious beliefs.”

When the organization unveiled its new 2019 Religious Freedom Index down the street in Washington, D.C., Becket’s Caleb Lyman made a good point when he said, “[Religious freedom] could be an area where Americans are more united than divided.” Although the number of people who support the government’s decision to use religious symbols or language and displays in public displays sagged a little bit, it still has a lot more support than censorship at 56 percent.

Another interesting part of the survey challenges the idea that young people are less and less interested in religious freedom. “I do think that there is an assumption that people who are millennials don’t care about God or faith, and that’s not necessarily the case,” Adelle Banks pointed out. Rather, she said, they see their friends “like the United Nations.” Generation Z, who’s already surprised the country with their more conservative views on LGBT issues, also seems to embrace our First Freedom more than their great-grandparents. Fifty-two percent of the kids born between 1996 and 2010 support coworkers wearing religious clothing or refusing to work certain days of the week — compared to just 31 percent of the Silent Generation (born between the 1920s and 1945).

“We count on the narrative that young people are more progressive and tolerant,” the Harris Poll’s John Gerzema has said. But maybe, after years of watching this vocal minority push around Christians and refuse to tolerate other viewpoints, this group of young people has finally had enough. The radical Left may have finally pushed too hard — and Generation Z is learning from brave people like Chelsey Nelson: it’s time to push back.

For more on how religious liberty is winning, check out this powerful panel from last month’s Values Voter Summit, featuring heroes like Lt. Colonel Leland Bohannon, Brush & Nib’s Joanna Duka, and West Michigan Beef’s Don Vander Boon.

Originally published here.

2020 Dems: A Base Hit by Abortion

Barack Obama knows a thing or two about winning elections. So when the former president warns you that your campaign is out of touch, most people would listen. Not these candidates. If anything, they’re setting out to show America just how radical they can be — giving the 44th president and the rest of his party plenty to worry about.

It was a rare moment of admonishment from the 44th president — and an even rarer moment of clarity for the Left. But when Obama sat down with a roomful of liberal donors last Friday, his concern was impossible to miss. Whoever Donald Trump’s challenger is, they’re setting a dangerous table of extremism in these primary debates — too dangerous, he worries, for the average American. “Even as we push the envelope, and we are bold in our vision, we also have to be rooted in reality,” he insisted, “and the fact that voters — including Democratic voters and certainly persuadable independents or even moderate Republicans, are not driven by the same views that are reflected on certain, you know, left-leaning Twitter feeds, or the activist wing of our party.”

If the 2020 field heard his cautionary words, they didn’t heed them. Despite the “#TooFarLeft” hashtag trending on Twitter, the Democrats in Georgia did nothing to allay the fears that they’ve jumped off the deep end on abortion, infanticide, immigration, health care, gender, socialism, and climate change. “There are a lot of persuadable voters, and there are a lot of Democrats out there who just want to see things make sense. They just don’t want to see crazy stuff.” Unfortunately for Obama, this field specializes in crazy — and proved it again Wednesday night.

After five of these events, the commentators are right about the boredom factor. Where I part ways with the analysis is that these are just “standard politicians saying standard things.” There isn’t anything routine about the agenda these candidates are proposing for America. Theirs is a country where mothers can rock their newborns to death, where criminals stream over our borders without consequences, where 230-plus years of democracy are swallowed up by a Venezuelan system of unrest and lack. “Listen to Obama,” the Washington Post pleaded. And not that I want to aid them in their efforts to capture the White House, but I agree.

In choosing Atlanta for Wednesday night’s debate, MSNBC did have the perfect backdrop to tee up their questions on one of the most controversial topics: abortion. “Most states, including right here where we are tonight in Georgia, have passed laws that severely limit or outright ban abortion,” Rachel Maddow started. Right now, Roe v. Wade protects a woman’s right to abortion nationwide. But if Roe gets overturned and abortion access disappears in some states, would you intervene as president to try to bring that access back?“ Their answers, as usual, went far beyond Roe. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) insisted that we should "codify” the ruling, meaning she would wipe the country clean of pro-life laws. Then, in a night that featured some statistical whoppers, she piled on with arguments that were ridiculous on their face.

“We have to remember,” she insisted, “… the people are with us. Over 70 percent of the people support Roe v. Wade. Over 90 percent of the people support funding for Planned Parenthood…” For starters, the majority of Americans do not support Roe v. Wade — which is abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy — and certainly not by the fantasy figures Klobuchar used. Only eight percent of Americans support the Democrats’ late-term abortion platform, according to the Harvard Center. And the objection to the Left’s birth day abortion campaign are even more dismal: six percent. There’s a consensus all right — but it’s not for abortion.

The numbers from Marist are even more frightening from the DNC’s perspective. Their January poll found that found 75 percent of Americans favor substantial restrictions on abortion, including 60 percent of Democrats and 61 percent of those who identify as “pro-choice.” Women, who’ve been exploited by the Democratic Party for years, feel even more strongly — a reality even Democratic pollsters admit. So when Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) says that “If there’s ever a time in American history where the men of this country must stand with women,” he’s right. But, like the rest of his movement, he’s dead wrong on what that stand should be.

As for the 90 percent “consensus” on Planned Parenthood, that’s flat-out absurd. A generous number would be 50 percent, which is what the scandal-ridden group has typically polled at Rasmussen. But here’s where Democrats are really in trouble: their blind assumptions about their own party. When Maddow pressed Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Democrats’ abortion litmus test, she replied, “I have made clear what I think the Democratic Party stands for.”

But her assessment — and the other candidates’ — has the potential to severely hurt Trump’s eventual challenger. If the party truly wants to make support for abortion a qualifying issue for people, it’ll be kissing a significant chunk of its support goodbye. “The number of Democrats now identifying as pro-life is 34 percent, up from 20 percent [in January 2019], while the number identifying as pro-choice fell from 75 percent to 61 percent.” “Does the party have a message to 20 million pro-life Democrats other than, ‘Drop dead?’” Kristen Day, who heads up Democrats for Life of America, asked. Based on the last five debates, no.

For more on the pro-life laws in your states — the same ones that would be in jeopardy if these candidates get their wish — check out FRC’s Pro-Life Map.

Originally published here.

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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