Aaron and Melissa Klein, the Christian bakers who gained national attention after they refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple, are in for a big surprise: a gay man who fervently disagrees with their stance on homosexuality is planning to willingly give them a large sum of money.
The Kleins, who have spoken with TheBlaze in the past about their legal woes since refusing to make the cake back in January 2013 and the subsequent loss of their shop, are reportedly facing a potential $150,000 fine — a fine that they say could bankrupt them.
But Matt Stolhandske, a board member of Evangelicals for Marriage Equality, a coalition of Christians who support same-sex marriage, recently launched an online campaign to raise money for the Klein family, despite his opposition to their views.
"As a gay man, I should hate Melissa and Aaron Klein," Stolhandske wrote in a recent Washington Post op-ed. "I’m also an evangelical Christian. I can’t understand why Klein or any other Christians twist the words of Jesus Christ to justify this behavior. To me, it’s a deeply harmful and embarrassing bastardization of our faith."
But he went on to write that, as a Christian, he believes that he's called to love even those with whom he disagrees, so he's raising the funds so that the Kleins and their five children won't suffer under the weight of the potentially massive fine.
Stolhandske said he's planning to send whatever money he raises in a crowdfunding campaign to the bakers in an effort to keep them from going bankrupt and to show them good faith and love.
But he said he's also hoping his gesture will encourage others like the Klein family to "stop using the name of Jesus to explain to the LGBT community why we don’t deserve access to the civil rights afforded to heterosexuals through the legal institution of marriage."
Stolhandske's campaign, which has attracted a plethora of supporters, also asks for help in changing the negative national debate that has surrounded the Kleins over the past year.
"We want to begin a conversation with the Kleins and Christians around the country. We want to ask them to begin to use the posture of Jesus Christ as it pertains to the civil rights of gay Americans," reads the donation page. "Even if you disagree with gay RELIGIOUS marriage, please see that Jesus did not ask His followers to take his words, convert them into laws, and then force everyone to abide by them; that is the opposite of the way in which He asked us to share His message of hope and salvation."
As TheBlaze reported in September 2013, the Kleins were already forced to close their Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery following intense scrutiny and furor; they’re now operating out of their family home.
Additionally, the family has reportedly been harassed by those opposed to their stance on the cake matter, fielding virulent emails and phone calls.
And Melissa Klein previously told TheBlaze that someone broke into the Sweet Cakes truck in September 2013 — a vehicle the family uses to advance its business.
The truck was parked in the Kleins’ driveway, which was particularly nerve-wrecking for the family, as their home is in a highly secluded area — one that is nowhere near where their former shop.
“Somebody came up into our driveway and rummaged through our truck and took stuff out,” she told TheBlaze. “The really strange thing is, they didn’t steal anything, they just made a mess. It kind of was a little creepy.”
It's clear that the debate has been a heated one, but Melissa Klein recently took to her Facebook page to address the ongoing controversy, defend her family and to reveal what she says are the “two huge lies” that contemporary culture has embraced.
“Our culture has accepted 2 huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them,” she wrote. “Second is that to love someone means that you must agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense.”
Klein concluded, “You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”