Speaking recently to The Daily Signal, a Christian business owner caught in the middle of a very public debate over gay marriage said her life has been turned upside down since she shared her view on the issue. Barronelle Stutzman was found guilty of discrimination after citing her faith as the reason that she would refuse to help decorate a gay wedding ceremony.
The ruling, which included a $1,000 fine, came as other business owners across the U.S. shared similar opinions. Though they were generally lambasted by ‘gay rights’ activists and others, a show of support by First Amendment advocates led to increased business and successful fundraising efforts in certain cases.
As for Stutzman, she thinks it is “sad that it has come to this,” noting that society benefits when citizens with different values are able to live in relative harmony.
“We all have differences,” she explained, “and every day we disagree with one another on some subject or another. But being able to still live peacefully with each other, despite those differences, is what true tolerance is all about.”
She tackled the often-misinterpreted religious freedom laws that have been passed or considered in a number of states – and which are largely a rephrasing of existing federal law.
“People have made this into something it’s not,” she said, “and have taken it way out of context. It is not a law that says you can decline goods and services to those who identify as gay. In my case, I have employed and served all kinds of people in my shop, whether they are gay, straight, lesbian or bisexual.”
Still, Stutzman said she must consider her religious convictions in all aspects of her life.
“Our First Amendment protects our freedom to live and work according to our faith,” she continued, “without the fear of punishment from the government for doing so. What’s happening now should terrify us all!”
Despite the name-calling she has endured as a result of her remarks, Stutzman maintained that neither she nor those who share her beliefs are the villains in this narrative.
“Even after the judge ruled against me in court,” she recalled, “we still got threatening phone calls. It became apparent to me that they want to destroy us and our religious beliefs – eliminate us, so that they can pretend these beliefs never existed, despite the fact that they have exited across centuries, races and cultures. Who are the real bigots here?”
Do you think business owners should have the right to freely exercise their faith? Let us know in the comments section below.
This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth