‘Govt shouldn’t force people to go against their conscience’

Thu, 25 Feb 2016

People should not be forced to violate their conscience or celebrate causes they do not believe in, the CEO of a legal firm representing US Christian bakers has said.

Aaron and Melissa Klein ran a bakery in Gresham, Oregon, but had to close their shop after they became embroiled in a legal row for declining to make a cake for a same-sex wedding in 2013.

The state ordered them to pay $135,000 in damages to the lesbian couple involved and prohibited them from publicly expressing their biblical stance.

Cherished freedoms

First Liberty Institute is assisting the Kleins with their upcoming hearing at the Oregon Court of Appeals.

The legal group has brought in a former US Ambassador and presidential lawyer to work on the case.

Boyden Gray, former White House Counsel for President George Bush Snr., said free expression and religious liberty are two of the “most cherished American freedoms”.

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The government should never force people to violate their conscience or celebrate causes they don’t believe inKelly Shackelford

President and CEO of First Liberty Institute, Kelly Shackelford, said: “The government should never force people to violate their conscience or celebrate causes they don’t believe in”.

Melissa Klein explained that they took the decision to decline to produce the cake because of their religious beliefs, and described the last three years as extremely difficult.

Speaking on BBC radio last year, Aaron and Melissa encouraged Ashers Baking Company – the Northern Irish bakers sued for declining to produce a same-sex marriage campaign cake – to carry on in their stance.

The Ashers case was adjourned earlier this month, with the Court of Appeal in Belfast now considering the issue on 9 May.