MADISON, Wisc. — Students who were recently interviewed at the University of Wisconsin (UW) in Madison appeared to be stumped when faced with the question as to whether or not Christian photographers have a right to decline to shoot events that conflict with their beliefs.
The religious liberties organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) recently visited UW to ask students if they believe businesses should have the right to turn away an order if it conflicts with their beliefs.
A representative from ADF began by asking students if they believed designer Sophie Theallet had a right to decline to dress Melania Trump.
“Yeah, why not?” one student answered.
“You should be able to control your business in that regard, yeah,” another opined.
“So, you have the right to opt out of business that you might not want to associate yourself with?” ADF asked.
“Yes,” the student replied.
ADF then presented a hypothetical situation where a professional singer who holds to Muslim beliefs is asked to perform at a church. Could he turn down the event because he does not want to be associated with Christianity?
“Yeah, you have the right to opt out of doing whatever you [don’t] want,” one student replied.
“I would feel like if I was Muslim, it would be hard to work with someone [that wasn’t],” another stated.
“Yeah, if that goes against your religious views, I feel like [you should] turn it down,” a third remarked.
ADF then asked if it would be right to enact a law forcing citizens to perform work that violates their beliefs, and all those in the video replied that they disagreed with such a requirement. Therefore, ADF presented another scenario.
“So, let’s say you’re a Christian photographer here in Madison and someone approaches you to do a same-sex ‘wedding.’ Would that be hateful or discriminatory to opt out of that?” he asked.
The students suddenly weren’t so sure.
“I don’t know,” one replied.
“I think it’s very difficult to determine what reason it is that you make that decision unless you’re very steadfast in your religion saying, ‘No, this is wrong,'” another remarked.
“That’s such a sticky issue,” a third said.
ADF said that the responses show that everyone agrees that businesses have the right not to have their name associated with a subject matter that conflicts with their convictions—-that is, unless it clashes with a hot-button social issue.
“Everyone agreed that a creative professional should have the foundational freedom to decline work that conflicts with their conscience and beliefs. But, when faced with a situation that conflicts with current cultural expectations, like a Christian photographer declining to promote a same-sex ‘wedding,’ the gears start grinding,” ADF explained.
“If a law forces that someone to promote something that’s against their beliefs is so laughable, so unimaginable, then why is it so difficult to extend that same freedom to a Christian creative professional?” it asked.
The video, posted to YouTube, has generated over 350,000 views as of press time.