‘Strong Ruling’: Christian Thrilled After Winning Tough Biblical Fight

Steve Tennes of Country Mill Farms (Alliance Defending Freedom)

Guest by post by Bob Unruh

This article originally appeared on WND.com

‘Government can’t choose to punish some people just because they don’t like their beliefs’

A federal court has ruled for a Catholic orchard owner who was banned from a farmers market in a nearby liberal city over his religious beliefs.

A report from Fox News revealed that a U.S. District Court judge decided Steve Tennes, owner of Country Mill Farms, and his family were improperly “forced to choose between following their religious beliefs and a government benefit for which they were otherwise qualified.”

The fight was with the city of East Lansing, Michigan, and exploded after the city retaliated against the family over Tennes’ statement online that he followed Catholic church teachings regarding marriage.

That would mean he would not allow a same-sex ceremony on his estate.

WND has reported on developments in the case over the six years it has been in court.

Fox said the case now may end, as the city had not confirmed it would appeal.

Tennes sued East Lansing in 2017 when officials there, after publicly mocking his faith, excluded him from a city farmers market at which he routinely sold his products.

The court ruling this week blasted the city for violating the Tennes’ free exercise rights protected by the First Amendment.

“The reason is simple: denying a person an equal share of the rights, benefits, and privileges enjoyed by other citizens because of her faith discourages religious activity,” the ruling explained.

Fox reported Country Mill Farms is a 120-acre, second-generation family operation in Charlotte, Michigan which Steve and his wife, Bridget, operate.

They had sold organic products at the East Lansing farmers market since 2010, but in 2017, city officials decided to target them with a “discretionary system of individual assessments” for participants.

In an interview with Fox News Digital, Tennes said the decision to sue over access to the farmers market some 20 miles from his home was hard.

“This was a tough decision we had to make seven years ago when we were faced with the choice of providing for our family like we always had, or walking away from our religious beliefs. And as parents and as veterans, that was a very tough decision to make,” he explained.

“But we’re glad that we were able to go forward with this and the court has come out with a strong ruling that helps not just our family, but really people of all backgrounds and beliefs to realize that the government can’t choose to punish some people just because they don’t like their beliefs.”

The family was represented in the fight by the ADF, where lawyer Kate Anderson said, “We’re just grateful for the court’s ruling, and hopeful that everyone can see that whether they believe with Steve or not about marriage, this is a ruling about each one of us being able to live according to our religious beliefs. And that’s the freedom that everyone should want.”

Copyright 2023 WND News Center


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