Sweet Cakes by Melissa owners Aaron and Melissa Klein had the audacity to defend their religious beliefs two years ago, and they suffered mightily. When a lesbian couple, Laurel and Rachel Bowman-Cryer, requested a cake from the Oregon-based Christian bakers for their wedding, the latter politely declined because doing so would violate the religious edicts they so strongly follow. The Kleins’ religiously motivated decision prompted the gay couple to sue, and the Oregon labor commissioner ruled that the Kleins would have to shell out $135,000 in damages. Thanks to Americans who still cherish religious freedom, however, it appears this Christian family will be more than able to pay that bill.
The Kleins had a fundraising page set up on the crowdfunding website GoFundMe. After pressure from gay marriage activists, site administrators decided to remove the page. Here’s how GoFundMe got away with that after their initial explanation about restricting crowdfunding pages for companies faced with "formal charges in defense of heinous crimes" didn't fly (the Kleins were not charged with a crime):
A few days later, GoFundMe changed the policy to include a ban on “claims of heinous crimes, violent, hateful, sexual or discriminatory acts,” making it easier to remove campaigns for Christian-owned business owners fighting discrimination charges after declining to provide services for gay weddings.
Despite being booted from the website, the Christian bakers still managed to rake in and keep about $109,000 from the fund.
Their campaign was picked up by another crowdfunding site, Continue to Give, and it has lived up to its name. As of today, the campaign has reached about 250 percent of its goal. Here are the astounding figures:
A crowdfunding campaign for the Oregon bakery Sweet Cakes by Melissa has set a site record by raising $352,500 in about two months after being kicked off the GoFundMe website, far exceeding the initial goal of $150,000.
That, reports the Washington Times, is a new crowdfunding record for the website.
A similar scene was played out earlier this year in a small pizza shop in Walkerton, Indiana. After Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) signed the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act into law, which protects business owners from the government infringing on their religious beliefs, tensions were already high throughout the state. The owners of Memories Pizza became unwanted martyrs in the fight. After telling local news reporters they supported RFRA and could not cater gay weddings because their faith would not allow it, the O’Connors received hate mail - even a death threat - and were forced to close up shop.
In response to the bitter backlash, The Blaze’s Dana Loesch announced she was starting a GoFundMe page for the O’Connors and the response was immediate. The embattled pizza shop owners raked in $35,000 in just four hours (and it seemed the page was permitted to stay active.) Once again, Christian business owners stood up to the backlash - and won.
Both of these instances have proven that lawsuits and threats only make unapologetic Christian businesses stronger.
Now that the Kleins have reached their fundraising goals – and then some – it goes to show that a sizable number of Americans still err on the side of religious liberty.
As for those who are trying to remove the Klein’s crowdfunding page from Continue to Give, founder Jesse Wellhoefer has a simple message:
“Lots of people have been asking us to take it off,” Mr. Wellhoefer said. “Our response has been, ‘Thank you for your concern, have a great day and God bless you.’”