Carl and Angel Larsen live in St. Cloud, Minnesota. They are an openly Christian couple who operate Telescope Media Group, a video production company.
Their website proclaims: “Telescope Media Group exists to glorify God through top-quality media production. As much as it depends on us, we aim to make God look more like He really is through our lives, business, and actions. We want to magnify Christ like a telescope.”
They want to expand into making wedding videos and movies. In keeping with their mission statement, they want to glorify God by focusing only on God pleasing marriages. Since God defines homosexual acts as sinful in the Bible, these relationships cannot be God pleasing. The Larsens should have the freedom to choose their clients in a way that fulfills their business plan. (Note: The Larsens are making no attempts to get homosexual relationships banned, or force their religious views on others.)
Minnesota disagrees and is using the power of the state to persecute the Larsens and other Christians.
Minnesota’s Democrat Attorney General, Kieth Ellison, has interpreted the state’s Human Rights Act to mandate that the the Larsens must also make films celebrating homosexual same-sex marriages. Penalties include payment of a civil penalty to the state; triple compensatory damages; punitive damages of up to $25,000; a criminal penalty of up to $1,000; and even up to 90 days in jail. No exemptions for religious freedom.
The Larsen’s sued Minnesota in federal court for this violation of their constitutional rights. Minnesota eagerly accepted the legal challenge.
Court records reveal the zeal Minnesota has used to force homosexual weddings on the citizenry. Even setting up sting operations against Christians. “It has even employed “testers” to target noncompliant businesses, and it has already pursued a successful enforcement action against a wedding vendor who refused to rent a venue for a same-sex wedding.” (The large Somali Muslim community has not been targeted by Ellison to date. Ellison is a Muslim.)
Minnesota won the first round. Minneapolis U.S. District Judge John Tunheim (appointed by Clinton) ruled against the Larsens.
The Larsens won round two. On appeal a three judge panel on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the Larsens. Judges David Stras (Trump appointee) and Bobby E. Shepherd (W. Bush appointee) ruled for the Larsens; Judge Jane Kelly (Obama appointee) ruled against the Larsens
Rather than accept this loss, or appealing to the Supreme Court, AG Kieth Ellison has filed a new case in federal court against the Larsens. This begins to look like lawfare, with Ellison using the massive resources of a state government to force a small business to either surrender or be bankrupted with legal costs. Alliance Defending Freedom is representing the Larsens to help reduce the massive legal costs.
Current Minnesota government is hostile to religious freedom for Christians and freedom in general.
The Larsen’s case offers insight with respect to the positions taken by the national political parties:
– Notice how every Democrat appointed judge ruled to create a constitutional right for homosexuality (The Constitution is silent on sexual orientation), while every Republican appointed judge ruled in favor of religious freedom in the 1st Amendment.
– Numerous Republican led states filed court briefs in support of the Larsens. Numerous states with Democrat governments filed court briefs supporting Minnesota.
Did Minnesotans realize they were electing an Attorney General who would spend tax dollars seeking out and targeting Christian businesses who did not want to participate in homosexual weddings?
If Minnesota’s government can force a Christian couple to participate in homosexual ceremonies against their will, can they force pastors to perform the homosexual weddings? This is a grave danger to religious freedom.
Scot Wolf is the author of The Bible and Constitution Made America Great By Providing Freedom and Liberty to Citizens, available in hardcover at Amazon.com, or at www.RestoretheFoundation.com, or as a Nook or Kindle eBook.