Russell D. Moore on Supreme Court’s Refusal to Hear Christian Photographers’ Appeal: Ruling More In the Spirit of Nero Caesar Than Thomas Jefferson

New Mexico Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to rule on a New Mexico couple’s objection to photographing a same-sex ceremony sends a menacing signal about mounting government coercion, religious freedom advocates said.

The high court announced without comment Monday (April 7) it would not review a lower court decision that found Jonathan and Elaine Huguenin, Christians who operate a photography business, violated New Mexico’s ban on sexual orientation discrimination by refusing to photograph a lesbian commitment ceremony. The state Supreme Court rejected the Huguenins’ arguments that using Elaine’s artistic ability in recording the event would violate her religious beliefs.

While the New Mexico Supreme Court turned back the Huguenins’ religious free exercise and free speech arguments, the U.S. Supreme Court denied review in response to the couple’s free speech claim.

Russell D. Moore, the Southern Baptist Convention’s lead religious freedom advocate, expressed disappointment that the justices did not accept a case that asks “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,” said Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “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.”

David Cortman, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), said, “Americans oppose unjust laws that strong-arm citizens to express ideas against their will. 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.”

The Supreme Court’s denial lets stand a unanimous decision by the New Mexico high court that was accompanied by what became a highly publicized concurring opinion from Justice Richard Bosson.

In that opinion, Bosson said the Huguenins “have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different. That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people.”

“In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship,” Bosson wrote.

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Tom Strode