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GoShunnedMe: Fund Site Dumps Christians, Changes Policy

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No one knows how much Aaron and Melissa Klein will raise toward their $135,000 fine — but we know one thing: they won’t be raising it on GoFundMe.

The charitable site wasn’t so charitable to these bakers, who lost their shop and two years of their life fighting for the right to exercise the freedom the Constitution guarantees them.

When the government slapped them with a $135,000 punishment for turning down a same-sex “wedding” cake order, Americans across the political spectrum rushed to their aid, giving generously to the cause of free speech and religious liberty. Eight hours after the fund launched, the spigots of charity stopped.

At midnight, when the Kleins were just shy of their goal, GoFundMe abruptly pulled the plug and told visitors that the campaign was closed. (Donations are still being collected here.) Publicly, they cited a policy that barred funding for “formal charges of heinous crimes,” but judging by the hateful posts by non-givers, that wasn’t the only reason.

Would-be supporters were furious at GoFundMe’s interpretation of the policy, which they also applied to Barronelle Stuzman, the beleaguered owner of Arlene’s Flowers, who is being sued for a similar reason. Although we were disappointed and frustrated by the Fund’s decision, we respected the company’s right to set its own policies — much as Aaron and Melissa should have had the freedom to do in their business.

Now, however, GoFundMe has moved beyond its initial Terms and Conditions to the wild west of crowdfunding requirements. The new policy, the Washington Times explains, “includes a ban on campaigns in defense of ‘claims of discriminatory acts’” — a more expansive and intentionally ambiguous standard that could crowd out crowdfunding.

As FRC’s Travis Weber pointed out, the new code creates more problems than it solves. “Who will determine what a ‘discriminatory act’ is? Will the term be decided according to legal standards? If so, which standards? Or will be subject to the same arbitrary decision-making we’ve seen from GoFundMe so far?”

Kristen Waggoner, Barronelle’s attorney from Alliance Defending Freedom, understands all too well where this is headed. Her client’s page was taken down despite the fact that Stutzman hasn’t been charged with a crime. “There have been other campaigns on GoFundMe that haven’t been shut down. To me, this may be discrimination based on religion.”

Discrimination in the name of non-discrimination. Where have we heard that before?



 

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