Fined $1,000 for operating her business in accordance with her Christian values, florist Barronelle Stutzman recently elaborated on how the experience has changed her life. Expressions of support and financial donations from fellow Christians and First Amendment advocates have not eclipsed the wave of vitriol she has endured since declining a request to provide floral arrangements for a gay wedding.
She said threatening messages continued even after the recent court ruling against her:
It became apparent to me that they want to destroy us and our religious beliefs – eliminate us, so that they can pretend these beliefs never existed, despite the fact that they have existed across centuries, races and cultures. Who are the real bigots here?
She went on to contend that controversial religious freedom laws enacted across the U.S. have been misinterpreted as permission for business owners to discriminate.
“It’s not a law that says you can decline goods and services to those who identify as gay,” she said.
In an ideal world, Stutzman envisioned citizens of all stripes living together without tearing apart one another’s beliefs:
We all have differences, and every day we disagree with one another on some subject or another. But being able to still live peacefully with each other, despite those differences, is what true tolerance is all about.