BLOOMSBURG, Pa. — A bridal shop in Pennsylvania has temporarily closed its doors after reportedly receiving threats for declining to assist two lesbians who came to the Christian-owned business in search of a wedding dress.
“We at W.W. Bridal Boutique strongly believe that when a man and a woman come together to be joined as one, it is truly one of the most special days of their lives,” the site for W.W. Bridal Boutique in Bloomsburg reads.
However, earlier this month, Shannon Kennedy and Julie Ann Samanas visited the shop in hopes of finding a wedding dress for Samanas as the two plan to “marry” in March. As previously reported, W.W. Bridal Boutique had been criticized in 2014 after it declined to schedule a gown fitting for a lesbian and her partner.
“We feel we have to answer to God for what we do,” owner Victoria Miller told reporters at the time. “And providing those two girls dresses for a sanctified marriage would break God’s law.”
Kennedy and Samanas told the Philadelphia Gay News that when they entered the boutique, they completed a form that asks for their information, and then crossed out the word “groom” and wrote “bride.”
After handing the form to an employee, it was inquired as to whether the dress would be for a same-sex “wedding.” When they replied in the affirmative, the employee advised that the business is Christian-owned and that they would be unable to help.
“She said, ‘I don’t know if you’ve heard, but we’re Christian and we don’t believe in that; our faith doesn’t let us believe in that,’” Kennedy remembered.
The women then left the shop without incident, but later wrote about the matter on Facebook.
“The owners of W.W. Bridal Boutique reserve the rights afforded to them by the First Amendment of the Constitution to live out our lives according to our faith,” the boutique also posted, but later deleted its statement. “‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.’ We will continue to serve our customers based on the tenets of our faith.”
National media outlets began picking up on the story, and Miller advised that the shop serves homosexuals, but cannot assist with same-sex events, which would be a form of personal participation.
“We have provided formal wear for our customers from all walks of life, including the LGBTQ community. We have always served everyone with respect and dignity,” she told the Huffington Post. “It is just this event, a same-sex marriage, which we cannot participate in due to our personal convictions.”
“We simply ask that we be given the same ability to live our lives according to our convictions,” Miller said.
However, some who learned of the situation contacted the boutique to threaten harm. A pastor has temporarily stepped in to moderate the shop’s Facebook page while the controversy subsides.
“You stupid [expletive] bigots. We are coming for you and your family,” one angry man warned in a voicemail. “We are going to tear your shop apart and make you feel as bad as you have made people feel. You [expletive] bigot scum. You are going down and so is all your employees and their families. You’re done!”
Another man contacted the business to threaten that he had “a few surprises” coming, according to the Christian Post.
Therefore, Miller has decided to close the doors temporarily and only accept visits by appointment. The change has already been marked on the boutique’s website.
As previously reported, Christians live by the mandate in 1 Timothy 5:22, which tells followers of Christ to “neither be partaker of other men’s sins; keep thyself pure.” Businesses such as Miller’s believe that to assist in a same-sex “wedding” would violate Scripture’s command not to partake in another’s sins as it would be a form of participation.
“Let no man deceive you with vain words, for because of [sin] cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them,” Ephesians 5:6-7 also reads.