Supremes given another chance to protect religious liberty

The U.S. Supreme Court is being given another chance to protect religious freedom in America, as an Oregon baker who was fined for declining to violate her Christian faith by promoting the LGBT ideology in weddings is returning to the high court.

The Washington Times reports Melissa Klein, and her husband Aaron, had their business, Sweet Cakes by Melissa, destroyed during the Oregon state persecution of their faith.

Melissa had declined to create a custom wedding cake for a same-sex duo, and the state initially imposed a fine of $135,000 against them, later lowering that to $30,000 after the Supreme Court returned the case to the state courts the first time.

At issue is the state’s so-called “public accommodation” law that purports to require Christians doing business to adhere to the leftist ideology of the LGBT community.

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The Times report said, “When they first appealed to the Supreme Court, the justices sent their case back down to Oregon courts citing the 2018 ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, where they sided with a Christian baker who refused to bake a same-sex wedding cake for a gay couple. The high court’s 2018 ruling, though, in Masterpiece only noted that the baker did not receive a fair hearing from the Colorado commission, and the state’s civil rights commission was biased against him.”

Oregon courts said the Kleins were hit with the huge fine because they cited their biblical beliefs.

That claim, and the $30,000 fine, prompted them to appeal again, explaining that as artists, they have a First Amendment right not to create custom cakes that violate their religion.

“All Americans are entitled to due process, with a fair hearing before an unbiased tribunal. The Kleins never received that,” said Stephanie Taub, senior counsel for First Liberty Institute, representing the Kleins. “We hope the Court will hear the Kleins’ case and clarify that all Americans have a constitutional right to due process, free speech, and religious liberty.”

She cited the state of Oregon’s “hostility” to the Kleins.

The high court already has agreed to decide a similar case, a challenge by website designer Lorie Smith to Colorado’s “public accommodations law.”

WND previously reported that the Oregon Court of Appeals already has admitted the state acted with “hostility” to the Kleins, the deciding favor in the victory for Jack Philips in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case.

The case involved a demand from Laurel Bowman-Cryer and Rachel Bowman-Cryer for the bakery to promote their same-sex event, which was declined.

One official with BOLI, Brad Avakian, publicly condemned the Kleins’ actions as “hate-filled” even before the dispute came before him as commissioner of the state’s Bureau of Labor and Industry.

He imposed a fine of $135,000 on the couple, forcing them out of business.

Court documents reveal, “Avakian’s statements about the Kleins’ religious beliefs – which he uttered before BOLI had even completed” an investigation.

The Oregon case drew the ire of Samaritan’s Purse CEO Franklin Graham.

“[Avakian] stated that the Kleins had ‘disobey[ed]’ Oregon law and needed to be ‘rehabilitate[d],'” Graham said at the time.

On Facebook, Graham wrote: “This is unbelievable! … Brad Avakian, Oregon’s Bureau of Labor & Industries Commissioner, upheld [the previous] ruling that the Kleins have to pay the lesbian couple $135,000 for a long list of alleged damages including: ‘acute loss of confidence,’ ‘high blood pressure,’ ‘impaired digestion,’ ‘loss of appetite,’ ‘migraine headaches,’ ‘pale and sick at home after work,’ ‘resumption of smoking habit,’ ‘weight gain,’ and ‘worry.’ Give me a break. In my opinion, this couple should pay the Kleins $135,000 for all they’ve been through!”

Graham said that even “more outrageous is that Avakian has also now ordered the Kleins to ‘cease and desist from speaking publicly about not wanting to bake cakes for same-sex weddings based on their Christian beliefs.”

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