Barreonell Stutzman, the 70 year old owner of Arlene's Flowers in Richland, Washington, has received an offer from Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
After 2 years of assaulting and litigating the small business owner due to her Christian beliefs, Ferguson has offered Stutzman a deal.
All she has to do is pay a fine of $2,001. This would apparently eliminate the hundreds of thousands of dollars of fines that have been accruing during the past 2 years of her trial.
And there's one more thing Attorney General Ferguson says she must also do:
Surrender her religious freedom and betray the teachings of Jesus Christ.
I have included Ferguson's written offer and Stutzman's written reply in this article.
Last week a judge ruled that Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene's Flowers in Richland ,must provide full support for "wedding" ceremonies that violate her Christian biblical beliefs and her conscience. This case is being followed around the world.
The law suit, "Washington State vs. Arlene's Flowers," has been grinding through the courts for the past 2 years.
Last week, prior to the final ruling, the judge ruled that Barronelle's personal assets---savings account, retirement funds and her home, are subject to the enforcement of the state.
The judge has ruled that, among other things, Barronelle can be fined $2,000 for every complaint filed against her by homosexuals for declining to do same sex "marriages."
Following this ruling, homosexual couples have piled on, with a number requesting her to do a same sex "marriage" and then reporting that she declined.
Those close to the trial have said the total cost may well exceed 7 figures---$1,000,000.
This past Thursday A/G Ferguson put out a press release offering Barronelle a settlement. When I read it th,e word "circus act" came to mind.
The release, dated February 19, 2015, says:
In light of yesterday's Benton County Superior Court ruling that a Richland florist violated Washington's Consumer Protection Act by refusing to serve a same-sex couple seeking to buy wedding flowers in 2013, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson today released the following statement:
My priority goal has always been to bring about an end to the Defendants' unlawful conduct and to make clear that I will not tolerate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Before this case began, my office wrote to Ms. Stutzman, asking her to comply with state law. Had she agreed to no longer discriminate, my office would not have filed suit, and Ms. Stutzman would not have paid any costs, fees, or penalities.
After lengthy proceedings, the court has ruled, the law is clear, and the state prevailed on all counts.
Today, I am prepared to settle this matter for a penalty of $2000 under the Consumer Protection Act, a $1 payment for costs and fees, an agreement not to discriminate in the future, and an end to further litigation.
I have asked my legal team to craft and present a formal settlement offer to the defendants including these elemants.
Barronelle responded Friday. This is a link to her letter.
This is the text of her written response to the Attorney General:
Attorney General Bob Ferguson
1125 Washington St. SE
P.O. Box 40100
Olympia, WA 98504
Re: State of Washington v. Arlene’s Flowers and Barronelle Stutzman
Dear Mr. Ferguson,
Thank you for reaching out and making an offer to settle your case against me.
As you may imagine, it has been mentally and emotionally exhausting to be at the center of this controversy for nearly two years. I never imagined that using my God-given talents and abilities, and doing what I love to do for over three decades, would become illegal. Our state would be a better place if we respected each other’s differences, and our leaders protected the freedom to have those differences. Since 2012, same-sex couples all over the state have been free to act on their beliefs about marriage, but because I follow the Bible’s teaching that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, I am no longer free to act on my beliefs.
Your offer reveals that you don’t really understand me or what this conflict is all about. It’s about freedom, not money. I certainly don’t relish the idea of losing my business, my home, and everything else that your lawsuit threatens to take from my family, but my freedom to honor God in doing what I do best is more important. Washington’s constitution guarantees us “freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment.” I cannot sell that precious freedom. You are asking me to walk in the way of a well-known betrayer, one who sold something of infinite worth for 30 pieces of silver. That is something I will not do.
I pray that you reconsider your position. I kindly served Rob [ one of the homosexuals who filed the complaint] for nearly a decade and would gladly continue to do so. I truly want the best for my friend. I’ve also employed and served many members of the LGBT community, and I will continue to do so regardless of what happens with this case. You chose to attack my faith and pursue this not simply as a matter of law, but to threaten my very means of working, eating, and having a home. If you are serious about clarifying the law, then I urge you to drop your claims against my home, business, and other assets and pursue the legal claims through the appeal process.
Thanks again for writing and I hope you will consider my offer.
Some personal thoughts:
- It is true that this is an assault on religious freedom. This act against a woman's religious beliefs and conscience is anything but "tolerance," yet the act is carried out under the guise of "teaching tolerance."
- It is true that Attorney General Ferguson and the activists he represents do not "understand." Both Barronelle and St. John spoke to the issue. John put it this way: "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it" (John 1:5).
- It is true. "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil" ( John 3:19).
- It is true that the authentic follower of Christ will not "sell" Jesus for any price. It is also true that too many pretend Christians are willing to compromise and put out a "For Sale" sign in the name of "relating to the culture." Ferguson does understand that.
- It is true that the mission of the true Christian is to "open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me" (Acts 26:18).
- And it is true that there is a cost to truly following Jesus Christ. Luke 9:57-62.
Be True. Be Fearless. Be Faithful.