A U.S. Appeals Court has ruled that the State cannot force Christian filmmakers to express messages contrary to their faith and conviction.
Two years ago a Minnesota court ruled that Telescope Media Group, a Christian film company run by husband and wife team, Carl and Angel Larsen, was in violation of the state’s Human Rights Act.
According to the court, the Act essentially compelled the parents of eight to use their creativity and services to create films celebrating homosexuality and same-sex marriage, contrary to their faith and conviction.
At the time, Alliance Defending Freedom claimed:
State officials have categorically, publicly, and repeatedly threatened to prosecute expressive business owners who decline to create speech promoting same-sex marriage. Steep penalties exist for violating the law, including payment of a civil penalty to the state; triple compensatory damages; punitive damages of up to $25,000; a criminal penalty of up to $1,000; and even up to 90 days in jail.
Jeremy Tedesco, ADF Senior Counsel, warned: “The same government that can force them to violate their faith and conscience can force any one of us to do the same.”
The Larsens appealed the ruling, and while a lower court dismissed the lawsuit challenging Minnesota’s decision, a federal appeals court has ruled in favour of the Larsens.
On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reinstated the Larsen’s case and ruled that the State cannot force the couple to express messages through their films that violate their religious convictions.
According to the Eighth Circuit: “The First Amendment allows the Larsens to choose when to speak and what to say.”
“This is a significant win,” Tedesco said after the ruling. “The government shouldn’t threaten filmmakers with fines and jail time to force them to create films that violate their beliefs.”