June 2014 Church & State | People & Events

American Christians can no longer work in seven professions, thanks to supposed “homosexual aggression,” the American Family Association (AFA) recently announced in a hysteria-laden e-mail to supporters.

On April 23, the Tupelo, Miss.-based AFA said the list of professions open to Christians is “quickly shrinking as homosexuals pro-actively seek opportunities to wreck the personal business and career of any Christian who declines to support the gay lifestyle.”

The professions listed were: photography, baker, florist, broadcasting, counseling, innkeeping and teaching.

The AFA apparently chose these seven jobs because they have been flashpoints for controversy in various “culture war” battles, many of which, ironically, were stirred up by Religious Right groups.

The examples cited in the “alert” included the case of Elaine Huguenin, co-owner of Elane Photography in Albu­querque, who was fined $6,700 for violating New Mexico’s Human Rights Act after she refused to provide services to a lesbian couple. The Alli­ance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed legal action on Huguenin’s behalf, but she lost. 

Another “religious liberty violation” listed by the AFA was the case of Jennifer Keeton, a student pursuing an advanced degree in counseling at Augusta State University in Georgia. Officials at the school became concerned after Keeton announced that she would refuse to work with gay clients. They pointed out that the profession’s ethics standards require counselors to treat all patients fairly and not discriminate.

The school put Keeton on a remediation plan, which she refused to follow. She then took her case to court, arguing that she was a victim of religious discrimination and that her free speech rights were violated. Aided by the ADF, she sued and lost.

The AFA called these so-called injustices a “focused effort to ostracize and humiliate faith-based businesses and their owners.”

Critics, like Americans United, disagree. AU has said that all business owners must observe public accommodation laws, and individuals should not own businesses that cater to the public if they do not want to serve everyone.