Carl and Angel Larsen are Bible-believing Christians whose faith is an integral part of every aspect of their lives including their home, marriage, friendships, and business. They’re especially passionate about marriage. Besides engaging in activities to strengthen the bonds of love and commitment in their own union, the twosome help other couples improve their marriages. They frequently provide pre-marital counseling to couples. They’re always willing to go in the trenches to help marriages in crises. Carl has even officiated two wedding ceremonies.
Due to their Christian principles, Carl and Angel are extremely worried about the current state of marriage in the country. They witnessed the United States Supreme Court redefine marriage. The couple has also seen people who, like them, feel that marriage should be between one man and one woman, marginalized by governments and other cultural forces. The developments surrounding marriage that have taken place over the past few years prompted the Larsens to want to do more.
The couple owns Telescope Media Group, “TMG,” a video and film production business that was formed to tell great stories that honor God. Knowing the power great storytelling has to change others’ hearts and minds, Carl and Angel wanted to utilize their wedding cinematography to remind people about the virtuousness of marriage between one man and one woman. Unfortunately, the Larsens’ state of Minnesota’s Human Rights Act mandates if they create movies acclaiming their Christian viewpoints about marriage, that it is between one man and one woman, they also have to make films violating their values, including ones supporting same-sex unions.
Last year, the Larsens attempted to proactively challenge the law as unconstitutional. They filed a lawsuit in advance of branching out into the wedding sector, asking for a court order that states Minnesota couldn’t intimidate them with harsh penalties and jail time if they exercised their First Amendment privilege to refuse to promote a message they disagree with. To help their cause, the Larsens created a wedding teaser video in order to show the court the type of marriage stories they wanted to tell. Sadly, a lower court dismissed their case and ordered they service same-sex weddings or close this part of their company. Last month, the couple appeared before the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Paul, Minnesota to challenge their state’s law, which they maintain illegally coerces them to produce and create films expressing messages that undermine their core Christian beliefs.
The couple has already been threatened with possible fines and imprisonment if they don’t abide by the law. The penalties for violating Minnesota’s Human Rights Act include payment of a civil penalty to the state, punitive damages up to $25,000, compensatory damages, and up to 90 days in jail. The Alliance Defending Freedom, ADF, is representing the couple.
In a press release, ADF Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco remarked, “The government shouldn’t threaten filmmakers with fines and jail time to force them to create films that violate their beliefs. Carl and Angel are storytellers – they script, stage, conduct interviews, capture footage, select music, edit and more – all to tell compelling stories through film that promote their religious beliefs.”
Tedesco cited the recent United States Supreme Court ruling in Masterpiece. In a vote of 7-2, the highest court in the land ruled that the government must respect the belief, held by numerous Americans from all walks of life, that marriage is between one man and one woman. The ADF Senior Counsel insisted, “The 8th Circuit should reinstate the Larsens’ lawsuit and order the state to stop forcing the Larsens to speak messages about marriage that violate their beliefs.” According to the ADF, officials in Minnesota have continually declared that private companies like Carl and Angel’s break the law if they refuse to make movies supporting same-sex weddings.
Both the Larsen and Masterpiece cases illustrate the importance of having conservative judges serving in the United States judicial system. Pray for the Larsens and others who are being unfairly coerced to violate their Christian values while engaging in business operations.
~ 1776 Christian