Sunday, April 13, 2014

The 3 - April 13, 2014

On this week's edition of "The 3", my week-in-review feature, a rejection by the Supreme Court means that a New Mexico photographer will have to pay for its refusal to be involved with a same-sex marriage ceremony, in case with significant religious freedom implications.  Also, a college professor who spoke out in a manner consistent with his Christian views will receive the promotion that he was denied as a result of expressing those views.  And, students all across America were involved in the Day of Dialogue this week, an opportunity to affirm God's plan in relationships.

3 - U.S. Supreme Court decides not to take case of photographer who would not take pictures at gay wedding

There was some hope that the U.S. Supreme Court would take up the case of a New Mexico photographer that had been fined by a state agency for refusing to take pictures at a same-sex ceremony in a state where gay marriage was not legal (at the time). On Monday, the high court declined to hear the case. The photographer, Elane Photography, owned by Jonathan and Elaine Hugenin, had been told by the New Mexico Supreme Court that she must, as “the price of citizenship,” use her creative talents to communicate a message with which she disagrees or suffer punishment, according to a report on the Alliance Defense Fund media website.

This series of events began in 2006, when Elaine was approached with photographing the ceremony. She politely declined to use her artistic expression to communicate a message at odds with her beliefs. The woman who approached Elaine easily found another photographer for her ceremony—and for less money. Nevertheless, the woman filed a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission. After a one-day administrative trial in 2008, the commission ruled against the Huguenins and ordered them to pay over $6,600 in attorneys’ fees. The case then made its way through the New Mexico state court system, and the New Mexico Supreme Court upheld the ruling.

Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence pointed out, “The First Amendment protects our freedom to speak or not speak on any issue without fear of punishment. We had hoped the U.S. Supreme Court would use this case to affirm this basic constitutional principle; however, the court will likely have several more opportunities to do just that in other cases of ours that are working their way through the court system.”   Cases in which ADF are involved include a florist and a cake artist who did not wish to endorse a gay wedding through their participation, as well as a T-shirt printer who did not provide shirts for a "gay pride" event.

Senior Counsel David Cortman added, “Elaine and numerous others like her around the country have been more than willing to serve any and all customers, but they are not willing to promote any and all messages. A government that forces any American to create a message contrary to her own convictions is a government every American should fear.”

2 - College ordered to promote professor who spoke out with Christian views

Dr. Mike Adams is a professor of criminology at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.  He was hired in 1993 and became an associate professor in 1998.  When he was hired, he was an atheist, but things changed in 2000, according to a report on the website.

That year, he became a born-again Christian, and his worldview began to change. He became a columnist for and also appeared on radio and television broadcasts, where he spoke about a broad spectrum of issues, from religion to morality to freedom of speech.

However, Adams’ conversion to Christianity and his outspokenness on current events drew some opposition, as some, including the atheist who was appointed to head the department in which he served, disagreed with his views and manner of presentation.  In 2006, when he was up for consideration of a promotion to full professor status, Adams was denied.

Therefore, in 2007, Adams filed suit, contending that university officials discriminated against him because of his Christian beliefs. In 2010, a District Court ruled against Adams, who then appealed his case to the 4th Circuit. In April of the following year, the court ruled that Adams provided sufficient evidence to warrant a trial, which was held last month.

At the conclusion of the trial, the jury agreed with attorneys for Adams, concluding that he was unjustly denied a promotion because of the views he expressed in print and broadcast media, which were protected by the First Amendment.   This week, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Southern Division, ordered the school to promote Adams and to pay him $50,000 in back pay after the jury's decision.

1 - Students urged to speak out on God's plan for relationships on Day of Dialogue

This week, students across America were scheduled to participate in the Day of Dialogue, a student-led event that encourages young people to enter the conversation about controversial, but important, subjects already being discussed among their peers and promoted in their schools. Focus on the Family sponsors the event.

CitizenLink quotes Candi Cushman, education analyst for Focus on the Family, as saying that, "The student guide has a lot of resources – tips for students on how to have a successful event, a legal section that explains their rights and, of course, the free speech tools...Day of Dialogue helps students give a balanced perspective on the difficult issues of the day.”

She said, “As we have seen from headlines in recent weeks, it does require great courage in this culture of spiritual relativism to acknowledge the existence of redemptive truth."

The Day of Dialogue website says that there are 7 guiding principles for the day.  In the relationships area, the components are: having healthy relationships, developing a healthy identity, and protecting others.   The sexuality area covers experiencing God's best for sexuality and understanding why gender is important.   And, the spirituality principles include: realizing that God cares and having a relationship with God.

What was formerly known as the Day of Truth became the Day of Dialogue in 2011, according to the Focus on the Family website.  At the time, Cushman said that the program's name change reflected a key goal of equipping students with an opportunity to articulate a Christian perspective. She said, "We're trying to raise awareness that more than one side needs to be heard on the issue of homosexuality, and we're helping to ensure Christian students have the chance to express their viewpoint...What is freedom of speech, after all, but a guarantee of the right to have dialogue?"

She was quoted as saying that she believed dialogue is more helpful than staying silent on this meaningful issue, which is what Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network's Day of Silence encourages. Day of Silence was held this past Friday, April 11.  Cushman pointed out that, "Silence is a media op, but dialogue is a learning op."

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