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The left has won the culture war and is roaming the countryside shooting the wounded. The latest example takes place in Phoenix, where the city is compelling two artists to create artwork they don’t agree with — and forbidding them from speaking up about it.
Painter Breanna Koski and calligrapher Joanna Duka became friends at a Bible study and, realizing their mutual love of art, created a business named Brush and Nib Studio. They create announcements and invitations for special occassions, primarily weddings. After meeting with the couples to better understand them and their desires, Breanna and Joanna handcraft unique custom designs celebrating their marriage.
This bespoke business fuses the pair’s passions but they quickly ran into trouble with the government. According to a City of Phoenix ordinance, Brush and Nib is compelled to create unique artwork celebrating same-sex weddings, even though Breanna and Joanna believe the Christian teaching that marriage should be limited to one male and one female. Worse still, the law prevents them from speaking about their traditional view since mere speech is thought to be discriminatory.
“We pour our hearts and souls into the custom artwork we create and we care deeply about the messages they express,” Duka said at a press conference following the hearing.
“We would like to tell you more, but right now Phoenix law limits even what we can share with you today.”
Those were her last words; the city succeeded in shutting her up.
What would have happened if she said any banned words? She and her business partner could receive up to six months in jail, $2,500 in fines and three years of probation for each day the city decided there was a violation.
As I note in the piece above, it would be ludicrous for government to force Jewish artists to create paintings celebrating Easter or force atheist artists to promote Islamic beliefs. Either would be as offensive as forcing Muslim bakers to cater a pork barbecue.
But, as with other cases about wedding cakes, flowers, and photography, the government is singling out Christians for holding a view that was the law of the land until three years ago. The First Amendment guarantees that Congress — and, by extension, any government — can make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion. Thankfully, the lawyers at Alliance Defending Freedom are reminding city leaders of that fact.