Churches are meant to be able to practice freedom of religion, which should include the right to refuse to host events contrary to their faith. Unfortunately, there is a very real chance that this may no longer be the case in the near future. Holy Rosary Church in Oregon is currently being sued for refusing to allow an LGBTQ event to be hosted on its grounds.
Holy Rosary Church owns a large space that it leased to Ambridge Event Center, which in turn rented out the space for different events. However, the event center was bound by a strict moral clause that it had signed with the church that prevented the center from renting the space out to organizations and groups that the church would not want to be affiliated with.
The moral clause specifically forbade Ambridge from renting the space to LGBTQ community members and organizations. When a group of African-American LGBTQ activists asked to rent the area for an event, the request was denied due to the moral clause stipulation in the contract. Ambridge’s manager was sympathetic to the activists’ plight and offered apologies; however, this did not stop the activists from not only suing Ambridge but also generating a great deal of negative publicity. This led to a flurry of cancellations from politically correct companies and government entities that did not want to be associated with what was now viewed to be a discriminatory events company.
Ambridge then made matters worse by hiring an openly gay man as its event coordinator. The move did not placate the LGBTQ activists, but it did raise the ire of the church that had already made it explicitly clear to Ambridge that the church did not wish to associate itself with people that openly disregarded its faith. Holy Rosary Church served Ambridge a lease termination notice a few weeks after Ambridge hired its new staff member. This turn of events has led Holladay Investors, which was doing business as the event center, to file a lawsuit against the church. Holladay Investors is suing for breach of contract, breach of faith and violation of state discrimination laws and is demanding over $2 million in compensation from the church.
The lawsuit is sure to be a controversial one. When questioned, the legislative director for Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries noted that the LGBTQ activists did not file a complaint as a result of the incident. She also pointed out that while there is no blanket law protecting all religious organizations from lawsuits arising from refusal to rent space to gay or transgender community members and organizations, churches do have a legal right to deny certain services to the LGBTQ community. However, there is no guarantee that a judge will not refuse to see that a church has the right to refuse to associate with those who flagrantly disregard the church’s beliefs.
This case could very well make its way up to the Supreme Court as activists do everything in their power to force people who don’t agree with them to pay a hefty fine.
Freedom of religion, association and belief are guaranteed constitutional rights that are sadly being eroded as those who don’t agree with religious values make it as hard as possible for churches and other religious organizations to operate without violating their religious beliefs. This recent case makes it abundantly clear that there is no stopping place for those who want the entire country to embrace a progressive moral code.
In spite of the fact that the church made its terms and conditions abundantly clear when dealing with Holladay Investors, the company is still blaming the church for the backlash resulting from its own decision to sign a contract with a strict moral code.
The decision in this case could set a precedent for other churches that seek to rent out space for events that do not conflict with church values while denying service to those that do. Furthermore, a ruling against the church could lead to future lawsuits from any company that chooses to do business with a church, but then decides that it doesn’t like the church’s beliefs and stipulations.
~ Patriotic Freedom Fighter