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The Oregon Court of Appeals rules on religious belief defense

by Ray Hayes

The Oregon Court of Appeals has finally ruled on the Aaron and Melissa Klein, ‘Christian’ owners of Sweet Cakes after five years of discussion.  The recent ruling focused on an Oregon based bakery and its right to deny services to Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer, based on religious beliefs.   The Kleins stated that the initial ruling in March 2017 was a violation of their rights “…to free speech, their rights to religious freedom and their rights as defendants to a due process.”  Despite their fight, however, the Appeals Court upheld the initial fine of $135,000.

This case is similar to the one currently being heard by the US Supreme Court in which a baker in the state of Colorado refused to make a cake for a same sex couple based on religious beliefs. The US Department of Justice has already released a statement in favor of the Colorado baker, stating, “Forcing Philips to create expression for and participate in a ceremony that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs invades his First Amendment rights.” Although the decision in the case is not expected until late June of 2018, I am curious to see if the decision by the Oregon Court of Appeals sets a precedence for the US Justices.


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