Christian Farmers from Michigan were targeted by city officials for their religious beliefs on marriage and were banned from the local market, reports say.
CBN News said the owners of Michigan's Country Mills Farms were banned in 2016 from continuing the use of their booth at the East Lansing Farmer's Market due to their biblical stand on marriage. The owners, Steve and Bridget Tennes, normally host weddings in their farm.
CBN News disclosed that the local officials banned them because they believed marriage is solely between a man and a woman. The couple have filed a lawsuit that has now reached the federal court, which has decided to review their case this week.
Alliance Defending Freedom, who represents the couple in court, reveal that the East Lansing officials having been targeting the owners because of a Facebook post comment on marriage. ADF tweeted on Monday that the case was a matter of "religious beliefs."
According to the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Country Mill Farms booth has been in existence in the East Lansing Farmer's Market for seven years and is known for their organic apples. The market then is part of the farm's growth before they were asked to leave it.
"Trouble started for the Tennes family when someone posted on Country Mill Farms' Facebook page, asking about the family's beliefs about marriage. The Tennes family gave an honest answer. As Catholics, they believe what the Bible says about marriage: it is a sacred union between one man and one woman. They never thought that a city 22 miles away would punish them for simply stating their beliefs. But that's exactly what happened," ADF said in the history of the case.
ADF explained that the city released a new policy and notified the Tennes family that they violated it by communicating their religious beliefs in Facebook. The incident made Bridget feel they "had to be quiet" because they were suddenly forced to not "believe what they wanted to believe."
"All of a sudden I felt like we couldn't even believe what we wanted to believe. We had to be quiet," Bridget disclosed to ADF.
The Tennes family's faith is central in their business and life since they strive to reflect Christ in the way they operate the farm and in rearing their children.
"Our family farm here is very personal to us. One of the things we really enjoy about our family farm here is (that) we are able to raise our five children here at the farm in accordance with our faith," Steve revealed. "To glorify God by facilitating family fun on the farm, and feeding families."
The city's decision to kick out the family from the farm was "outrageous" because the Tennes are protected by the Constitution "to speak about their religious beliefs, without fear of government punishment," ADF noted. In addition, the Tennes were U.S. military veterans who "served to protect freedom for all" yet face such a discrimination from the government.
Such an irony, ADF pointed out, makes no American "truly free" to exercise one's religious freedom.
The government, they stressed, should not be punishing citizens when they exercise their right to religious beliefs out of advancing "its political agenda." This is actually the very reason the Tenneses decided to file the lawsuit.
"This isn't just about our ability to sell at the farmer's market. It's really about every American's right to make a living and not have to worry about being punished by the government," Steve stressed.
ADF said the federal judge who heard the Country Mill case has ordered that they be able to operate in the market again while the lawsuit is being heard in court.