Press Release  Religious Liberty

ERLC’s Russell Moore Comments on U.S. Supreme Court Decision to Deny Cert in Elane Photography Case

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 7, 2014 The U.S. Supreme Court denied cert on Monday in the case of Elane Photography v. Willock, allowing a lower court ruling to stand in New Mexico regarding religious liberty and free speech.

Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin, of New Mexico, declined to be the official photographer for the 2007 commitment ceremony of a lesbian couple, Vanessa Willock and Misti Collinsworth, stating that photographing the wedding would require them to create expression conveying messages that conflict with their religious beliefs.

The New Mexico Human Rights Commission found that the Huguenins violated the states public accommodations law, the New Mexico Human Rights Act.

Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, reacts to the decision of the Supreme Court denying the Huguenins an opportunity to have their case reviewed.

I am disappointed the Supreme Court denied cert in this case. At issue is the fundamental question of whether the state can pretend to be a god over the conscience. No one is seeking to outlaw photographers from working at same-sex marriage or civil union ceremonies. At issue is whether these persons will be forced by the coercive power of the state to participate in something they believe to be sinful. The audacity of the New Mexico Supreme Court in saying that the crucifixion of conscience is the price of citizenship is breathtaking. This ruling is more in the spirit of Nero Caesar than in the spirit of Thomas Jefferson. This is damaging not only to the conscience rights of Christians, but to all citizens. When we decide, as a country, that state power trumps the rights of conscience, we are treading on self-evident, inalienable rights, granted not by government but by God. The Supreme Court did the wrong thing, and our cherished American principle of soul freedom is the victim of their neglect.”

The Southern Baptist Convention is Americas largest Protestant denomination with more than 15.8 million members in over 46,000 churches nationwide. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is the SBCs ethics, religious liberty and public policy agency with offices in Nashville, Tenn. and Washington, D.C.

– END –

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