Perhaps you missed the Brush and Nib case, or you heard about it and didn’t see how it related to you. But look again. Two Christian young ladies in their mid-twenties took on the city of Phoenix and its discriminatory “anti-discrimination laws” and won at the AZ Supreme Court!

I will touch on some of the very significant statements in this ruling in a moment, but I want you to give this situation some serious thought and picture your children in the place of Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, owners of Brush & Nib Studios.  Duka and Koski are devout Christians who believe their work is inextricably related to their religious beliefs. They strongly believe a marriage is meant to be between a man and a woman, and argue they cannot separate their beliefs from their work.  Any one of our children/students may find themselves in a similar situation in the not-so-distant future. 
 
When you are in a business that is threatened by state or local laws that target your religious beliefs and the actions that flow from those deeply held beliefs, what are you to do? 
 
They could have kept their heads down and hoped that nobody noticed their little business. They could have decided to go along with this ordinance that would have forced them to use their gifts and talents to celebrate weddings that violated Scripture. But they realized that the consequences of not standing up could have been extremely costly, both in finances and in principles. Joanna and Breanna decided to sue the city stating that this ordinance violated their freedom of speech and freedom of religion.   

On Monday, September 16, the Arizona Supreme Court delivered a major victory for free speech and religious freedom in Arizona with its 4-3 decision in Brush & Nib Studio v. City of Phoenix.

The bottom line is that the Arizona Supreme Court affirmed the foundational principles of free speech and religious freedom expressed in Arizona’s Constitution and Free Exercise of Religion Act. The opening line of the Court’s opinion makes this abundantly clear:

 

“The rights of free speech and free exercise, so precious to this nation since its founding, are not limited to soft murmurings behind the doors of a person’s home or church, or private conversations with like–minded friends and family. These guarantees protect the right of every American to express their beliefs in public. This includes the right to create and sell words, paintings, and art that express a person’s sincere religious beliefs.”

 

We rejoice in the great work of Alliance Defending Freedom in defending the rights of Joanna and Breanna, and the rights of all Arizonans to peacefully live and work according to their sincerely held beliefs without fear of unjust punishment. I am personally thankful that some young people committed themselves to go to law school to fight on the front lines so that Joanna and Breanna had a team to advocate on their behalf. What role will your child play in these battles — lawyers defending freedom or clients standing for the freedoms we currently enjoy? Or will they keep their heads down and hope that they might not get targeted? (A bad plan according to Esther 4:14)

Have you ever wondered whether our children/students are growing strong enough to stand on God’s Word and graciously fight similar battles? One way to help them is to put this kind of victory in front of them. Let them see role models like Joanna and Breanna willing to risk everything to fight for the freedoms for all believers. 

May God grant us many more victories like this. May God make each of us courageous and unafraid of what people might think. “The fear of man is a snare.” Proverbs 29:25

“But the guarantees of free speech and freedom of religion are not only for those who are deemed sufficiently enlightened, advanced, or progressive. They are for everyone. After all, while our own ideas may be popular today, they may not be tomorrow.”

–  Arizona Supreme Court, Brush & Nib (¶4)

 

“Freedom of speech and religion requires tolerance of different beliefs and points of view. In a diverse, pluralistic society such as ours, tolerance of another’s beliefs and point of view is indispensable to the survival and growth of our democracy. For this reason, we have always recoiled at those governments and societies that repress or compel ideas or religious beliefs.”   

–  Arizona Supreme Court, Brush & Nib (¶164)

To read the Court’s opinion, click here.

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