Arizona court to consider if Christian artists can be jailed for their views?
By David W. Virtue
The Arizona Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case involving two Christian artists who could face fines and jail time if they don’t create artwork celebrating same-sex weddings.
Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski own Brush & Nib Studio and create custom artwork using painting, calligraphy and handlettering for weddings and other events. But because of their Christian faith, they won’t make custom artwork celebrating same-sex weddings.
Under a Phoenix ordinance, Duka and Koski could be jailed for up to six months and/or fined $2,500 each day they are in violation if they refuse to design artwork for a same-sex couple who requests wedding announcements or invitations.
They sued in state court seeking to overturn the ordinance, but lost at the court of appeals. They then appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court.
Alliance Defending Freedom is representing the couple.
“Joanna and Breanna gladly serve everyone,” said ADF’s petition to the Arizona Supreme Court. “They ‘will happily sell their pre-made works to anyone …. for any event.”
But for same-sex weddings, the two women will not design custom-made art celebrating the ceremony.
“Their Christian beliefs forbid them from creating ‘custom artwork that conveys messages condoning, supporting, or participating in activities or ideas that violate their religious beliefs,’” the petition said. “For example, they cannot create artwork expressing messages that ‘contradict biblical truth, demean others, endorse racism, [or] incite violence.’”
ADF asserts that the ordinance violates the Arizona Constitution and Arizona’s Free Exercise of Religion Act.
“The government must allow artists to make their own decisions about which messages they will promote,” said ADF senior counsel Jonathan Scruggs. “Joanna and Breanna are happy to design custom art for anyone; they simply object to being forced to pour their heart, soul, imagination, and talent into creating messages that violate their conscience.”