Christian owners of the Oregon Bakery Sweet Cakes by Melissa made the news in 2013 when they declined the opportunity to make a wedding cake for lesbian couple because it violated their Christian beliefs. Later one of the women filed a complaint, and according to an April 26 article on the Inquistr website the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries recommended the couple receive $135,000 in damages for emotional suffering.
A violation of Christian beliefs
Previous to turning down the opportunity to make a wedding cake for the couple, the women filing the complaint were regular patrons. The bakery owners regularly sold the couple cakes and other items, but when it came to a same-sex marriage event they felt talking part by making a cake would violate their beliefs and they declined. The other side suggests, “The facts of this case clearly demonstrate that the Kleins unlawfully discriminated against the Complainants,” according to a statement by the BOLI to the Oregonian. Now, while the penalty is not final, the owners, Aaron and Melissa Klein stand to lose everything they own, including their home.
GoFundMe account shut down
Within hours of the ruling, the Family Research Council started a GoFundMe account to help raise the money needed by the Kleins. In less than eight hours, more than $100,000 came in. But then late on Friday, GoFundMe closed the account and sent messages to the people who had donated saying, “After careful review by our team, we have found the ‘Support Sweet Cakes By Melissa’ campaign to be in violation of our Terms and Conditions. The money raised thus far will still be made available for withdrawal.”
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins has spoken out against the harsh penalty, and says that it isn’t exactly clear what led to GoFundMe dropping the fundraising drive, but suggests it was probably due to gay activists. He also said, “This reveals two very important aspects of the redefinition of marriage, Americans are not going along with it and two – the intolerance of those trying to redefine marriage is historically unprecedented.”
Samaritan’s Purse fills the gap
Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian ministry run by Franklin Graham, has stepped in to fill the need created by the GoFundMe account closing. They are offering to raise funds for the embattled Christian couple. The ministry has set up a website specifically to help the Kleins. Franklin Graham is the oldest son of Billy Graham and has devoted his life to meeting the needs of people around the world and proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.