Lawsuit: Is it still a free country?

Monday, January 18, 2021
Chris Woodward (

gavel with U.S. flagA Christian photographer in Virginia who's stepping up to defend free America is waiting to hear whether he can operate his business in accordance with his beliefs.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorney Jonathan Scruggs tells One News Now Bob Updegrove's legal fight to have the freedom to choose the messages he promotes in his business is really a case for all Virginia citizens. ADF is representing Updegrove in his case before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

"Bob has always used business as a ministry allowing him to create art promoting messages he believes in, and one of the ways he does this is by celebrating weddings between one man and one woman," Scruggs continues.

Last year, the state passed a new law called the Virginia Values Act that forces Updegrove to either create photographs celebrating same-sex weddings or close his business.

"The law also forbids Bob from publicly explaining his reasons for only creating artwork consistent with his beliefs about marriage, and this law threatens Bob with court orders forcing him to create artwork contrary to his faith, imposing attorney fees and even fines up to $100,000 per violation," the ADF attorney details. "So Bob chose to challenge the law to protect his rights and the rights of other artists, ensuring that anyone can continue to operate their business consistent with their convictions."

"I became a Christian in high school, and I became a photographer some years later after graduating from college while volunteering with a youth ministry," Updegrove told reporters. "Since then, my relationship with God and my relationship with photography have been inseparable."


During that time, Updegrove says he has photographed and worked with thousands of people from all walks of life.

"I've served customers no matter who they are, but the government oversteps when it attempts to force me to promote views I disagree with," Updegrove contends. "The state has the responsibility to protect my religious freedom. It should not be able to silence and punish me for living out and expressing my faith."

He recognizes that he is not the only one whose freedom is at stake.

"When the government can tell you what to do, what to say, and what to create, then we do not live in a free America," said Updegrove. "The legislators who passed Virginia's law called views like mine bigotry and want to punish me, to remove me from the public square. If we want to have freedom for ourselves, we have to extend it to those with whom we disagree."


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