The Family Research Council (FRC), an anti-LGBT hate group, has launched a new site called “Free To Believe,” a new effort to emphasize “religious freedom” as a means of denying LGBT equality. The site is a catalog of the stories of 20 individuals, all of whom either run businesses that are committed to refusing service to same-sex couples or have otherwise experienced public backlash for opposing LGBT equality.
Here’s a quick glimpse at the ways FRC wants people to be “free to believe”:
- Jack Phillips (Masterpiece Cakes): This Colorado baker refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple. What FRC doesn’t mention is that the refusal took place before any conversation about the design of the cake could take place. Phillips was found in violation of state law, but is still fighting the ruling with support from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).
- Crystal & Kevin O’Connor (Memories Pizza): This Indiana pizza shop told a journalist that it would refuse to serve a same-sex wedding. After experiencing a public backlash, supporters raised nearly $1 million to ensure the O’Connor stayed in business. It remains legal for them to discriminate against same-sex couples in their small Indiana town.
- Donald & Evelyn Knapp (Hitching Post Lakeside Chapel): The Hitching Post is a for-profit wedding chapel that wanted to be sure it nocould deny service to same-sex couples when marriage equality arrived in Idaho. Though they claim they have denied service to same-sex couples, they were never found in violation of Coeur d’Alene’s nondiscrimination ordinance because no complaint was filed. ADF helped them sue to challenge the LGBT-inclusive protections to ensure they could continue to discriminate.
- Craig James: James was hired by Fox Sports Southwest to provide commentary on college football, but his tenure only lasted one week. The hire had not been fully vetted, and Fox Sports execs felt that the anti-gay rhetoric from his Texas Senate run in 2013 — including claims that being gay is “a choice” and that gay people “are going to have to answer to the Lord for their actions” — was not compatible with the network. FRC promptly hired him, and continues to defend his claim that sexual orientation is not inborn.
- Sarah Crank: Kathleen Crank and her then-14-year-old daughter, Sarah, testified against marriage equality before a Maryland Senate committee in 2012. Sarah was targeted by internet trolls with inappropriate harassment, but Kathleen continued to boast online that her daughter shared her beliefs, including that being is gay is like alcoholism or drug addiction, and is “harmful and destructive to individuals and society.”
- Chaplain Joseph Lawhorn: Chaplain Lawhorn’s is the only story on “Free To Believe” that isn’t explicitly anti-LGBT, but it easily could have been. As a military chaplain, Lawhorn evangelized Christianity and Christian scripture and solutions when providing a mandatory suicide preventing training session. Because chaplains are supposed to minister to soldiers of all faiths, he received a “letter of concern” in his record for “advocating one system of beliefs over another.”
- Chris & Nang Mai (Urloved Photography): A gay couple sought photography from Urloved Photography, but owners Chris and Nang Mai refused. After the couple complained on Facebook, the Mais apologized and ended their wedding photography services so that they would not be in violation of California’s nondiscrimination laws. FRC claims that they were “shamed into submission” through a “smear campaign.”
- Pam Regentin (Fleur Cakes): Regentin was another Oregon baker who refused a same-sex couple a wedding cake. She faced a backlash in the form of a boycott, but the couple never filed a complaint.
- David & Lily Stockton (Just Cookies): Back in 2010, the Stocktons refused to make rainbow-colored treats for Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis’ National Coming Out Day. The city of Indianapolis investigated after a complaint was filed, but the Stocktons agreed to settle.
- Elaine & Jonathan Huguenin (Elane Photography): Elane Photography refused to photograph a same-sex couple’s commitment ceremony, the couple filed a complaint, and the case made its way up the New Mexico Supreme Court. Despite Elaine Huguenin’s claims of “religious freedom,” the Court unanimously ruled against her for discriminating in violation of state law. The U.S. Supreme Court was not interested in considering the case on appeal.
- Chaplain Wes Modder: FRC claims that Lt. Commander Wes Modder was “sabotaged” by a gay assistant who investigated the way he counseled sailors. What the assistant found was that Modder was shaming women for having premarital sex, telling gay students that homosexuality was wrong and that they could be saved, and berating a pregnant student for not being married. He was issued a “detachment for cause” for discrimination and imposing his values on servicemembers.
- Aaron & Melissa Klein (Sweet Cakes): Just last week, a judge ruled that the Kleins owed a same-sex couple $135,000 for refusing to bake them a cake. They claim that they are being punished for their faith. But the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries concluded that the bakery violated state law protecting against discrimination based on sexual orientation.
- Kelvin Cochran: Cochran was fired as Fire Chief of Atlanta after distributing a self-published book comparing homosexuality to bestiality and calling it “vile, vulgar, and inappropriate.” He is now suing, with support from ADF, claiming that he was fired “for no reason other than my Christian faith.”
- Brendan Eich: When Brendan Eich was named CEO of Mozilla, there was a significant protest from inside the unique open-source company that eventually spread to the public. Eich had financially supported California’s Proposition 8, which directly conflicted with Mozilla’s inclusive values. He was, as FRC puts it, “chased out of his job,” resigning to resolve the unrest.
- Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk: This Air Force officer claims he was fired for his religious view on marriage equality. He oversaw a staff sergeant who openly opposed homosexuality on religious grounds during a mandatory training, and he was instructed to discipline the subordinate for this violation. He refused, insisting that the sergeant did nothing wrong, refusing to follow his commanding officer’s instructions. FRC frames Monk’s story as one of disagreement, not disobedience.
- Phil Robertson (Duck Dynasty): The duck call patriarch has no shortage of Biblical condemnations for homosexuality, but when he first expressed them to GQ in late 2013, A&E temporarily put the popular reality show on hiatus — for just a few days, when the show was neither filming nor airing new episodes.
- David & Jason Benham: The Benham brothers were preparing to launch a home-flipping show for HGTV, but it was cancelled once their anti-gay comments came to light, such as a comparison between marriage equality and Nazis. Rather than apologize, the brothers accepted the consequence, saying, “If our faith costs us a television show, then so be it.” They’ve been the darlings of the religious right since.
- Eric Moutsos: A police officer in Salt Lake City, Moutsos resigned rather than participate in the police motorcycle brigade at the front of the city’s LGBT pride parade. He claims he was unfairly branded a bigot for his refusal, but Police Chief Chris Burbank reasoned, “How can I then send that officer out to a family fight that involves a gay couple or a lesbian walking down the street?”
- Barronelle Stutzman (Arlene’s Flowers): Earlier this year, a judge told Stutzman that her religion did not excuse her to defy Washington’s LGBT nondiscrimination law, as she did when she refused flowers for a same-sex wedding. She has been ordered to pay a fine of $1,000 for her violation.
- Patricia Jannuzzi: Last month, Jannuzzi, a teacher at New Jersey’s Immaculata High School, posted on Facebook that gay activists “want to reengineer western civ into a slow extinction.” The Catholic school suspended her and demanded that she remove the Facebook post. Her job status for the fall is still in doubt.
FRC explains that the purpose of the story collection is the fact that “our core beliefs define who we are, and how we live. The freedom to believe and live according to those beliefs is the foundation for a civil society where people of differing beliefs can live and work together with mutual respect.” Nevertheless, the site is dedicated to not working together with LGBT people or providing them with mutual respect