Press Release Feb 16, 2017

Russell Moore criticizes Washington Supreme Court ruling in case involving Barronelle Stutzman and religious liberty

WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 16, 2017—Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, criticized a ruling today from the Washington state Supreme Court finding that florist, Barronelle Stutzman, violated the state’s anti-discrimination law by refusing to sell floral arrangements for a gay couple’s wedding. The ruling was unanimous.

Stutzman claimed selling flowers to the couple was “incompatible with her Christian beliefs,” and would constitute a violation of her First Amendment rights. Her lawyers argued that doing so would be “tantamount to endorsing marriage equality for same-sex couples.”

In response to the ruling, Moore said:

"The Washington Supreme Court's ruling shortchanges our nation's most fundamental freedom in favor of ideological conformity. Barronelle Stutzman followed her genuinely held beliefs without hostility toward any, and yet finds herself the target of a government that wants to steamroll her constitutional rights. The Court held that the government can force citizens to use their creative gifts and expressive speech to participate in and endorse acts they believe to be immoral. This decision is a loss not only for Barronelle Stutzman but for every American who values liberty and civility over coercion by the government. My prayer is that this ruling would be overturned and that the U.S. Supreme Court would recognize the crucial importance of religious liberty. "

The case, State v. Arlene’s Flowers, Inc., et al, was heard on appeal from a lower court ruling that fined Stutzman. The full court opinion may be found here.