Christian videographers Carl and Angel Larsen are suing the state of Minnesota over the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA). The married couple claims that the law would force them to operate their business in a manner that violates their deeply held religious beliefs. On September 20, the U.S. District Court in Minnesota dismissed the lawsuit; the couple is appealing.
With a large family that includes two adopted Ethiopian children, the Larsens would like to expand their videography business to include the recording of wedding videos. While making their Telescope Media Group more profitable, the couple’s desire to record weddings transcends money. In a YouTube video posted by the Alliance Defending Freedom, Carl Larsen points out that “what the Bible teaches about marriage is that it’s really a vehicle for us to understand who God is.” He added, “The Bible begins with a wedding in the Garden [of Eden] and ends with a wedding feast. Marriage gives us an opportunity to see God in a way that we wouldn’t otherwise see if we didn’t have it.”
One of the primary motivators behind the Larsens’ desire to include the recording of wedding videos in their business is their strongly held belief that the role of marriage is to tell the world who God is. And it’s a motivation that shouldn’t be discriminated against by those who would force the Larsens to act against their beliefs. It’s also a motivation that causes them to run afoul of the MHRA.
“According to Minnesota officials, the State’s Human Rights Act mandates that if the Larsens make films celebrating marriage between one man and one woman, then they must make films celebrating same-sex marriages as well,” the Alliance Defending Freedom said. “State officials have repeatedly threatened to prosecute expressive business owners who decline to create speech promoting same-sex marriages. And there are steep penalties for violating the law, including payment of a civil penalty to the state, triple compensatory damages, punitive damages up to $25,000, and even up to 90 days in jail.”
Since Telescope Media Group hasn’t recorded any weddings to date, the Larsens have yet to be sued by publicity-seeking and Christian-persecuting same-sex couples. They have put together a demo video to show the courts how their Christians beliefs are incorporated into their business as they take the fight to the state of Minnesota. The couple’s legal team explains, “Fortunately, Americans don’t have to wait to be punished or thrown in jail before challenging unjust laws. Instead, they can file a pre-enforcement challenge, which is exactly what the Larsens have chosen to do.”
“They have filed a lawsuit before entering the wedding field, seeking a court order that says Minnesota cannot threaten them with severe penalties and jail time if they exercise their First Amendment right to decline to promote a message with which they disagree,” they continued. “Until they get a favorable ruling, the Larsens are refraining from making wedding films and muzzling their speech about God’s design for marriage to avoid the severe penalties for violating Minnesota’s law.”
While the Larsens would like to adhere to the laws of the land, it’s commendable that they refuse to bow before the false god of the sexual revolution. As their case progresses (or stalls) in the Minnesota court system, many Christians who are eager to honor God with their businesses will be praying and watching. Unfortunately, Carl and Angel Larsen may be the next victims of this country’s increasing persecution of those who seek to honor God in all things.