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Banning Anti-Gay Fruit

Catholic farmer sells produce to all at East Lansing farmer's market. That's not good enough for the city

From The Benedict Option:

The workplace is getting tougher for orthodox believers as America’s commitment to religious liberty weakens. Progressives sneer at claims of anti-Christian discrimination or persecution. Don’t you believe them. Most of the experts I talked to on this topic spoke openly only after I promised to withhold their identities. They’re frightened that their words today might cost them their careers tomorrow.

They’re not paranoid. While Christians may not be persecuted for their faith per se, they are already being targeted when they stand for what their faith entails, especially in matters of sexuality. As the LGBT agenda advances, broad interpretations of antidiscrimination laws are going to push traditional Christians increasingly out of the marketplace, and the corporate world will become hostile toward Christian bigots, considering them a danger to the working environment.

Here’s one more thing you are going to have to dismiss, explain away, or otherwise overlook to justify calling me paranoid:

A Catholic farmer in Michigan is suing the city of East Lansing after he was barred from a municipal farmers market over his views on same-sex marriage.

Stephen Tennes filed a lawsuit at a federal court on Wednesday (May 31), seeking his reinstatement.

In it, Tennes says he was prohibited from selling his products after his business, Country Mill Farms, refused to host a lesbian couple’s wedding at its orchard in Charlotte, 22 miles outside the city and he stated on Facebook “his Catholic belief that marriage is a sacramental union between one man and one woman.”

Country Mill Farms had sold fruit and produce at the market for six years, but after city officials learned about the Facebook post, they “strongly and immediately pressured us not to return to the farmers market,” Tennes told a news conference at the state Capitol.

According to the lawsuit, Country Mill is the only business to have been prohibited under the market’s anti-discrimination policy.

In a statement, the city of East Lansing said the farmer’s refusal to host a same-sex wedding violated a “long-standing ordinance that protects sexual orientation as well as the Supreme Court’s ruling that grants the right for same-sex couples to be married.”

So: Farmer Tennes did not and does not discriminate against LGBT customers at the farmer’s market, but the City of East Lansing made it impossible for him to sell his fruit there. This, for something he did on his own farm, 22 miles outside the City of East Lansing.

Country Mill Farms hosts weddings on its property. It’s probably the case that it will either have to accommodate gay couples, or stop doing weddings entirely. But that has nothing at all to do with the farmer’s market. The City of East Lansing has no jurisdiction here, but is going out of its way to punish Farmer Tennes for his viewpoint.

Thank God Tennes is represented by ADF (which could use your financial support, by the way). If not for ADF, what choice would he have but to surrender? What farmer has the resources to fight the city?

Christians in the East Lansing area need to turn out to support Country Mill Farms by buying its produce (even if you have to drive out there), and by protesting at the Farmer’s Market. This is not a time for silence. But Christians also need to take this kind of thing seriously, and to grasp that this is going to be happening more and more in the future. If you aren’t preparing now for how to deal with it, you are in denial. More from The Benedict Option:

In fact, according to one religious liberty litigator who has had to defend clients against an exasperating array of antidiscrimination lawsuits, the only thing standing between an employer or employee and a court action is the imagination of LGBT plaintiffs and their lawyers.

“We are all vulnerable to such targeting,” he said.

Says a religious liberty lawyer, “There is no looming resolution to these conflicts; no plateau that we’re about to reach. Only intensification. It’s a train that won’t stop so long as there is momentum and track.”

Once again, class, what does the Law of Merited Impossibility say? “It will never happen, and when it does, you bigots will deserve it.”

If you and your church are not talking about and planning for what you are going to do when this happens to you, why not? As I quote David Gushee, the pro-gay rights Baptist ethicist, in The Benedict Option:

“Neutrality is not an option. Neither is polite half-acceptance. Nor is avoiding the subject. Hide as you might, the issue will come and find you.”



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