After the Pizza Parlor: Religious Freedom at the Grass-Roots

Small business owners and everyday Americans — who are maybe not so average — are taking religious freedom into their own hands, and sometimes they are risking their lives by standing up for their beliefs.

Brian Klawiter, the owner of Dieseltec, an auto repair shop near Grand Rapids, Mich., made it clear he would refuse service to “openly gay” people, but would welcome straight people with guns.

“I would not hesitate to refuse service to an openly gay person or persons. Homosexuality is wrong, period. If you want to argue this fact with me then I will put your vehicle together with all bolts and no nuts and you can see how that works,” Klawiter wrote on the Dieseltec Facebook page.

While gays may be banned, guns are not. He wrote that guns are allowed at Dieseltec “so much so in fact that we will offer a discount if you bring in your gun. ('On duty' cops are excluded because thats not their gun, thats my gun bought with my money, off duty absolutely!) [sic]”

Klawiter wrote two days after the first post on Facebook that he would continue to exercise what he sees as his religious freedom despite receiving death threats.

“Listen up folks, If you have an opposing view to mine that IS OK, what is NOT OK is threats to kill me, my family, and friends; threats to burn down my shop and my home. I will stand firm on my views and will not back down.”

In Texas, Joan Cheever has offered a religious freedom defense as she fights a $2,000 fine for feeding the homeless in a San Antonio park. It was her first problem with the law despite having handed out free meals to the poor for the past ten years.

“One of the police officers said, ‘Ma’am, if you want to pray, go to church,’” she told WOAI-TV. “And I said, ‘This is how I pray — when I cook this food and deliver it to the people who are less fortunate.’”

Cheever also made her case on the Facebook page of her nonprofit food truck The Chow Train.

“When I talked to the health department and said WE–THE CHOW TRAIN– are the caterers of the poor, they said, that’s ridiculous. They don’t have a caterer,” Cheever wrote.

“When I said, what is the difference between me bringing food into the park vs. the age old tradition of families camping out and cooking AND serving food on Easter Sunday, they told me – those people are their friends and family.”

The foreskin of a 4-year old boy might be saved in Florida because his mother is using the state’s religious freedom law to stop a circumcision.