The organizer of a new social media platform for conservative Christians is voicing his displeasure after he claims that he was refused service from a web development company because of his views on same-sex marriage.
Rich Penkoski, an evangelical preacher who helped organize the new Christian Facebook alternative SocialCross.org and runs the West Virginia-based online ministry Warriors for Christ, is speaking out after he says he was refused service when he tried to enlist the services of Open Social, an organization that provides intranet solutions for nonprofits and companies, and powers over 250 online communities.
Penkoski told CP Monday that he was looking for a way to improve the 12,000-user SocialCross.org and was interested in learning more about how Open Social could help the site, which was launched earlier this year.
After talking initially with a representative of Open Social about a possible free trial last week via email, Penkoski was later contacted by the co-founder of Open Social’s parent company on Friday.
Penkoski shared an email he allegedly received from Taco Potze, co-founder of the Netherlands-based company GoalGorilla and the Open Social distribution.
“Thanks for your interest in our services. We as a company unfortunately can’t align our mission of equality with yours, for example when it comes down to equal marriage rights for both straight and gay people and your warrior merchandise advocating to ‘make marriage straight again,'” Potze wrote in his Dec. 9 email, referencing the “Warriors for Christ” merchandise page that features a $26 “Make Marriage Straight Again” hat.
“Seeing how our principles differ, there just wouldn’t be a good fit cooperating.”
Potze’s email also offered an alternative for Penkoski and gave him a link to other agencies that could help him implement the open-source software for SocialCross.org.
“I am always looking for things to make the SocialCross better. I wanted to see what they offered by using their trial. In this case, I asked about how I could migrate my users over to this particular platform because theirs is open-source. I just wanted to see what they offered compared to what we are doing right now to see if there are any changes that are better. We are always on the lookout for stuff like that. But they refused service to me,” Penkoski explained.
“I went back and forth with the representative and all of a sudden, I got that email. I never even mentioned Warriors for Christ, not a word. How they found the merchandise from SocalCross, I don’t know because we don’t even sell that stuff on SocialCross.”
The Christian Post reached out to GoalGorilla and Potze for comment on Penkoski’s claims. An update will be provided once a statement is received from Potze or a GoalGorilla representative.
Penkoski is not afraid to let his opinions be heard when it comes to LGBT issues on the “Warriors for Christ” webpage and social media pages. One of the reasons Penkoski created SocialCross was because he had been suspended from Facebook a number of times because of posts about same-sex marriage and LGBT issues.
Penkoski explained that although everyone is welcome to join SocialCross, there are some limitations about what users can and can’t say when it comes to LGBT advocacy on the platform.
“People come on there and are supposed to have dialogue without the trolling, without that anger that Facebook breeds. Even with LGBT members who want to join, that is fine as long as they don’t advocate and don’t try to push it on people,” Penkoski said. “If they have genuine questions about why Christians don’t support same-sex marriage, and other genuine questions, we have no problem with that.”
“We have had a couple that have come on and joined SocialCross and say, ‘I love being gay’ and they use the profanity and that kind of stuff,” he added. “That is the line.”
The company’s refusal to offer service to Penkoski and SocialCross.org came during the same week in which the U.S. Supreme Court heard the oral arguments in the appeal of Colorado baker Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop, who was punished by the state government for acting in accordance with his faith and refusing to bake a cake for the wedding celebration of Charlie Craig and David Mullins in 2012. It’s important to note that Colorado didn’t recognize same-sex marriage until 2014.
“This is a private business and I believe that in America, you should have the right to refuse,” Penkoski said. “But the double standard is where I have the issue. If you can do it to Christians then Christians should be able to do it to you without a problem.”
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GO TO PRAYERS, THEN GO KILL: THIS IS THE WAY OF THE DEVIL, NOT OF G-D
I know that I am not the most intelligent person in the world, but I do always insist that I speak honestly with you. The only agenda that I have with you is for me to be totally honest with you, to never lie to you. Before I write an article to you I always spend quite a bit of time in prayer asking for total guidance in every word that I type to you. Not once in my life have I ever spent time in prayer then when I was finished did I go somewhere and attack another person. Not once have I been in a Church meeting where the one praying, Minister or otherwise, condone or tell those in the prayer group or Congregation to now out outside and attack anyone, never!
In August of 2000 my Mom whom I love dearly was killed by a young man who later got a reckless driving ticket, which he did totally deserve as he was driving very reckless. If I had not been a devout Christian, that man would have been dead before that month was out. But as a Christian I was able to forgive him. He did not intend to kill my Mom or anyone else. He was just acting immature, he even had his five-year old son in the pickup with him at the time. If I had killed that driver that little boy would have grown up without a Dad. Sometimes in life things that happen hurt a person a lot, somethings simply anger us to the point of wanting to tear a person’s head off but as a Christian, we are not allowed to follow our carnal thoughts. When we get angry, when we are hurting we all need to go to a quiet place and spend time in prayer with G-d our Creator. For those who are wondering why I am spelling G-d in this article, it is for our Jewish friends for this is a way that they show respect to the Creator of us all.
Creator of us all, please think about that for a moment. G-d created every one of us, Jew and Gentile. For those who don’t know, the Biblical word Gentile is everyone who is not of %100 pure Hebrew/Jewish blood. Remember even Jesus and His Apostles plainly said over and over again, to the Jew first, then to the Gentile. We are all able to be saved through the Blood of Christ, before Christ, only the Jewish people could be saved. So, I am a Gentile and almost everyone else on the planet today are also Gentiles. This includes Christians, Muslims, Persians, Buddhist, Hindu’s, and everyone else. Folks we are equals in the sight of G-d and we all have no right to be an aggressor toward another person.
Now I am going to talk with you about the issues going on in Jerusalem, the Temple Mount, and at the Western Wall for a moment. Out side of the Islamic Faith I know of no ‘Place of Prayer’ where the Preacher ‘Iman’ fires up the folks in the pray meeting so once prayers are over to leave the building and to commit acts of violence including killing people! Folks these events going on right now in Jerusalem are Satanic! In the name of G-d, no one is allowed to cause harm to another person! It is very common that when Friday prayers are finished on the Temple Mount the people go to the top of the Western Wall and throw rocks down on the Jewish people below. Today after the Friday prayers there has been huge physical protest that are condoned by Islamic Iman from the Mosque. Folks this is pure evil, G-d has nothing to do with those who are committing these acts of physical aggression. If your Preacher, your Rabbi, or your Iman are telling you to go commit violence, then you are listing to the words of a Demon, not of a servant of G-d!
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The day has arrived for Colorado Christian baker Jack Phillips, whose case will finally be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday after he was punished by the state for refusing to serve the wedding of Charlie Craig and David Mullins.
The high court will hear oral arguments in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a case that could go a long way in determining the limit of Christian wedding vendors’ First Amendment protections.
In a case that pre-dates the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage in 2015, the conservative legal group Alliance Defending Freedom will defend Phillips and argue that wedding cakes are equivalent to art and free expression and that their client has the right to refuse events that violate his convictions.
In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage, there has been much heated debate in the country surrounding the intersection of LGBT protections and the religious freedom of Christian conservatives.
Many conservative Christian leaders have considered this case to be one of the most important cases pertaining to religious freedom in over a decade.
Ronnie Floyd, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and the president of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, told The Christian Post that he fears a ruling against Phillips could set a negative precedent on religious freedom rights for Christian professionals, even those outside of the wedding industry.
“As the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal noted, It could compel Catholic doctors to perform abortions or force Catholic adoptions services to place children with same-sex couples,” Floyd, the pastor at Cross Church in Arkansas, said. “I think that is the far-reaching issue, whether it is Catholic or it’s evangelical — those of us who have a deep belief in religious liberty and the sanctity of human life and those kind of matters. Where does it stop? That is extremely frightening.”
“I don’t think by any means that someone that did what Jack did should be discriminated against because he doesn’t feel like he can in good conscience do that,” Floyd added. “I just think that is a violation to his own personal commitment to what he believes is right relating to one of the great traditions of the Christian faith: family and marriage between a man and a woman. That is one of the core principles.”
Some argue that Phillips should be required to make cakes for same-sex weddings because in this specific case he was not asked to travel to or attend the wedding ceremony as a part of the transaction because the wedding was in Massachusetts and the cake was for a wedding reception in Colorado.
“But even if the cake were to have been consumed at a wedding, Phillips’ creation of the cake before the ceremony would not have constituted participation in any meaningful sense,” conservative political commentator George F. Will wrote in an op-ed published by The Washington Post.
“Photography is inherently a creative, expressive art, so photographers have a strong case against compulsory documentation of ceremonies at which they must be present. Less clearly but plausibly, florists can claim aesthetic expression in floral arrangements, but their work is done before wedding ceremonies occur. Chauffeurs facilitate ceremonies, but First Amendment jurisprudence would become incoherent if it protected unwilling chauffeurs from their supposedly expressive participation in ceremonies to which they deliver actual participants.”
Will asserted that he believes Phillips should “lose this case.”
“A cake can be a medium for creativity; hence, in some not-too-expansive sense, it can be food for thought. However, it certainly, and primarily, is food,” Will said. “And the creator’s involvement with it ends when he sends it away to those who consume it.”
In a response to Will, National Review columnist David French argued that wedding cakes are art.
“Who has ever said that a wedding cake was primarily food? No one wants the cake to taste like trash, but is that the reason that brides, moms, and wedding planners agonize over their cake choice? (Grooms are more likely to be indifferent.) No, they want the cake to be beautiful. They want it to be — dare I say it — a work of art,” he wrote.
Carrie Severino, a former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and policy director at the Judicial Crisis Network, said in a statement that this case is not about “generic cake.”
“This is not about a generic cake someone picks up at Costco. After all, Jack Phillips was willing to sell an off-the-shelf cake to the couple. But the government wanted to unconstitutionally force him to design a custom wedding cake that would promote a message in direct conflict with his conscience and deeply held religious beliefs, even when there were plenty of other businesses with no such conflict that were happy to bake that cake,” she said. “The left will try to frame this case as an LBGTQ case but, at its core, it’s about whether or not the government can force or compel an American citizen — protected by the First Amendment — to violate their religious convictions and their right to free speech.”
The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board published an op-ed on Sunday in support of Phillips that argued that the state of Colorado is doing what the Supreme Court said shouldn’t be done — “demean” or “stigmatize” those with different morals.
“As Justice Kennedy noted in Obergefell, the ‘Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,'” the WSJ op-ed concludes. “If this applies to same-sex marriage, which isn’t mentioned in the Constitution, it certainly ought to apply to religious belief, which is there in black and white.”
Although Will believes that Phillips should lose his case, he doesn’t believe Phillips should have been subject to government punishment for what he did.
“Phillips ought to lose this case. But Craig and Mullins, who sought his punishment, have behaved abominably,” Will contended. “To make his vocation compatible with his convictions and Colorado law, Phillips has stopped making wedding cakes, which was his principal pleasure and 40 percent of his business. He now has only four employees, down from 10. Craig and Mullins, who have caused him serious financial loss and emotional distress, might be feeling virtuous for having done so. But siccing the government on him was nasty.”
“Denver has many bakers who, not having Phillips’s scruples, would have unhesitatingly supplied the cake they desired. So it was not necessary for Craig’s and Mullins’ satisfaction as consumers to submit Phillips to government coercion. Evidently, however, it was necessary for their satisfaction as asserters of their rights as a same-sex couple,” Will continued. “Phillips’ obedience to his religious convictions neither expressed animus toward them nor injured them nor seriously inconvenienced them. Their side’s sweeping victory in the struggle over gay rights has been decisive, and now less bullying and more magnanimity from the victors would be seemly.”
So, tomorrow December the 6th President Trump is supposed to say whether or not he is going to officially recognize Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and if the U.S. is going to move our Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. So, this article this evening is simply my thoughts on this issue, I am not consulting other writers nor any pre-written documents. I am only going by articles that I have already read during my lifetime, up to this point in time. I know that no matter what I say, I am going to get a lot of people angry simply because I don’t agree with them.
Today the President of Turkey, Mr. Erdogan threatened to cut relations with Israel if Mr. Trump goes ahead with the Jerusalem Capital issue. To me, this is a fraudulent concept, if Mr. Erdogan wants to cut relations with any country it should be the U.S. not Israel. Israel cannot control what comes out of the mouth of Donald Trump, no one can. It is said that the whole of the ‘Arab League’ will cause many deaths if Mr. Trump goes through with this announcement. These type of threats help show the ‘low road’ of the Islamic leaders, not their intelligence. It is also because of threats like this that would cause a narcissists like Trump to not bow down to such a threat because it would/will make him look weak and in this case, that is actually true.
Now, for my personal thoughts on how to make the Jerusalem Capital issue work for all sides, yet at the same time not make any side totally happy. Isn’t that pretty much what the definition of what a compromise is? My idea is for Jerusalem to be declared the Capital of Palestine, all of Palestine. This would encompass all of Palestine and all the people of Palestine, Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs, the people of Gaza and of the West Bank. This way it is everyone’s Capital. All people of this region, no matter if they are Israeli Jews or residents of the ‘so called’ Palestinians of the West Bank can prove that they are capable of recognizing each others right to exist, in peace with each other.
Because of the current security issues raised by terrorist groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS and the PLO plus the fact that Jerusalem was the Capital of Israel at least 1,600 years before Mohammad was even born, Israel would have to have control of the security issues within all of the city. Maybe in time these folks who are hell-bent on violence will mature into civilized human beings and the ‘walls’ of security can be let down. Israel on their side would need to allow the Palestinian people to have such things as their Embassy in Eastern Jerusalem once there is a two State agreement in place. All sides of this issue should be allowed to call Jerusalem their Capital. Jerusalem is the ‘City of God’ and it should be able to be an ‘International’ City. Yet the only way for this to come about is if groups like Hamas who refuse the existence of the State of Israel to lay down all of their weapons. Israel can not allow its citizens to continue to be fodder to murderers, so until all Islamic groups in the Palestine region agree to commit no violence, there can not be a safe and secure two State compromise.
Another reality is that even though Mr. Trump seems to think that he decides if Jerusalem is the Capital of Israel, he actually has no say so in the matter. Jerusalem is and has been the Capital of the people of Israel for more than 2,600 years. It is God who decided that Jerusalem is His City. The world can call Tel Aviv Israels Capital, but it has never been Israels Capital, Jerusalem is. But there is no reason that all of the people of Palestine can not call Jerusalem their Capital as it is the Capital of all of Palestine.
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President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, gestures as he gives a speech at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in Ankara, on December 5, 2017. (AFP Photo/Adem Altan)
The status of Jerusalem is a “red line” for Muslims and changing it could prompt Turkey to cut its ties with Israel, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Tuesday, as US President Donald Trump reportedly geared up to recognize the city as the Jewish state’s capital.
Erdogan said Turkey, which currently holds the chairmanship of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, would immediately call a summit meeting of the pan-Islamic group if Trump went ahead with the move on Wednesday, and “set the entire Islamic world in motion.”
Nabil Shaath, the commissioner for external relations of the Fatah movement, seen in his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, January 18, 2012 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Meanwhile, a senior Palestinian official warned that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would spell the end of Trump’s nascent Israeli-Palestinian peace push.
“That totally destroys any chance that he will play a role as an honest broker,” Nabil Shaath, an adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, told journalists on Tuesday.
“That takes away… the deal of the century,” he added, referring to Trump’s pledge to clinch the long-elusive peace deal.
Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit also warned of the “danger” of the United States recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital or relocating its embassy there, calling on Washington to reconsider.
Abul Gheit told Arab government delegates that they had decided to meet in Cairo “given the danger of this matter, if it were to happen, and the possible negative consequences not only for the situation in Palestine but also for the Arab and Islamic region.”
US President Donald Trump visits the Western Wall, May 22, 2017, in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Saudi Arabia, a major partner to the American efforts to revive the peace process, added its voice, expressing “grave and deep concern” over the possible US plans.
If Trump decides to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital it would reverse years of US policy, even if he did not move the US embassy.
“Saudi Arabia (expresses) grave and deep concern over reports that the US administration intends to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem,” the official Saudi Press Agency said, citing a foreign ministry source.
“This step will have serious implications and will further complicate the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It will also obstruct the ongoing efforts to revive the peace process.”
The European Union also noted possible “serious repercussions” of the move.
Above: EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini
The EU, which supports a two-state solution to the conflict, warned against doing anything that would jeopardize the peace process.
“Since early this year, the European Union was clear in its expectation that there can be reflection on the consequences that any decision or unilateral action affecting Jerusalem’s status could have,” EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini’s office said in a statement.
“It might have serious repercussions on public opinion in large parts of the world,” it added. “The focus should therefore remain on the efforts to restart the peace process and avoiding any action that would undermine such efforts.”
Trump is expected to make an announcement on Jerusalem in a major policy speech Wednesday.
The mercurial president has yet to make his final decision, officials said, but is expected to stop short of moving the embassy to Jerusalem outright, a central campaign pledge that has been postponed once already by the new administration.
Facing dark warnings of a historic misstep and widespread unrest, Trump on Monday delayed a decision on whether to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. The White House said the president would miss a deadline on the decision, after a frantic 48 hours of public warnings from allies and private phone calls between world leaders.
The status of Jerusalem is one of the most contentious issues of the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israel gained control of East Jerusalem during the Six Day War in 1967 and extended its sovereignty there in 1980, an effective annexation that remains unrecognized by the international community. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.