BLOOMSBURG, Pa. — The Christian owners of a bridal shop in Pennsylvania who have been receiving threats since declining to assist a lesbian with her wedding last July have decided to close their business due to fears of an impending ordinance that would require them to violate their faith, as well as the inability to market themselves in light of false negative reviews.
“The members of our town council have made it known they will pass an ordinance soon. We have chosen to close rather than be forced to go against our faith,” W.W. Bridal Boutique in Bloomsburg, co-owned by Victoria Miller and her three daughters, explained on social media on Sunday.
The boutique has discounted all wedding gowns to half price as the women plan to close their doors permanently on March 30.
As previously reported, the bridal shop first came under criticism in 2014 after Miller and her daughters declined to schedule a gown fitting for a lesbian and her partner.
“We feel we have to answer to God for what we do,” Miller told reporters at the time. “And providing those two girls dresses for a sanctified marriage would break God’s law.”
Last July, W.W. Bridal Boutique again became the focus of the ire after the women declined to assist another lesbian woman with her wedding as they believed it would be a form of personal participation in an event that violates God’s law. As the matter made national headlines, Miller explained that it is not the person, but the event that poses a conflict. She noted that she and her daughters have sold formal wear to homosexuals without issue.
“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,” she said.
However, a number of homosexual advocates contacted the boutique to threaten harm, including those who professed to be Christians.
“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 [sic] all your employees and their families. You’re done!”
The boutique closed for a time and only accepted appointments by appointment, but the threats—including death threats and other intimidation—continued coming. Miller and her daughters posted some of the email and voicemail to social media this week to provide examples of the comments they have been receiving.
“Rot in Hell you disgusting excuse for human beings,” one message stated. “I hope you go out of business because you deserve nothing less and a whole lot more for your shameless discrimination.”
The women also took time to explain their Christian convictions in light of questions that they have received about the matter.
“Many have asked why we have taken the stand that we have. Matthew 19:4 ‘And He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.’ This is the reason we only participate in biblical marriage,” Miller and her daughters wrote.
“We have the right given to us by God and the Constitution to live our lives according to our faith. We will not be forced by government, local ordinances or bullies to participate in something that goes against our faith,” they stated.
Now, as the women believe that a nondiscrimination ordinance will soon be passed by the Bloomsburg City Council that would prohibit them from declining to take part in same-sex ceremonies, Miller and her daughters have decided to close the shop.
“I guess what would happen is that a customer would come in and once we deny them, they would sue us,” co-owner Lisa Boucher told the Christian Post. “You know how that goes with other [businesses].”
She also noted that members of the public have submitted false reviews online, claiming that they have been to the business and were mistreated, when the women have no record of any such person being at their boutique.
“It’s kind of hard to promote a business when you are being attacked,” Boucher said.
“We are closing and this is our livelihood,” she lamented. “At this point, we don’t have any plans of what to do in the future. We are kind of just resting on God’s Word and hoping that He is going to pull us through it and open some sort of doors. I am sure He has blessings and will take us to wherever He wants us to serve, whether it be in our church or volunteer locally.”
A crowdfunding page has been launched to help those who will be losing their income due to the closure.