On December 5, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Masterpiece Cake Shop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission—which could be one of the most significant cases in our nation’s history involving freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
If your only source of information were mainstream media outlets, you’ve probably heard the case described along these lines: hiding behind a specious claim to religious freedom, anti-gay baker Jack Phillips refused to serve a same-sex couple in his store. The couple reported this hateful discrimination to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which rightly fined Phillips.
There’s only one problem with this description of what happened. It’s hogwash.
Here’s what you need to know about Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop—what you need to know and tell your friends, family, and co-workers when the topic comes up.
First, Jack is a cake artist, something that’s become more famous since reality television shows like “Cake Wars.” He doesn’t just bake cakes; he custom designs master cakes. However, from the beginning Jack has seen his business as an expression of his faith (hence the name), and that has led him to reject business throughout his career. For example, he’s refused to make custom cakes for Halloween and divorce celebrations, and he’s turned down requests for lewd cakes for bachelor and bachelorette parties.
Back in 2012, two men asked Jack to design a cake for their same-sex wedding. Now mind you, back in 2012, the state of Colorado didn’t even recognize same-sex weddings. Jack told them that he would gladly sell them any item in the store—including cakes—but that he could not, due to his religious convictions, use his cake-design talents to participate in the celebration of their ceremony.
The couple left fuming. Vile phone calls started pouring in—even death threats. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission not only fined Jack, but ordered that if he made custom wedding cakes for heterosexual couples, he also had to do it for same-sex couples. Then the Commission—behaving like some communist dictatorship might—ordered Jack and his employees to go through a “re-education” program and provide quarterly compliance reports.
Obviously Jack appealed, and his case has made it to the Supreme Court. Jack has stopped selling wedding cakes, and has lost 40 percent of his business, and has had to lay off employees.
Now those are the facts. You can find them at ADFLegal.org—the website of the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing Jack.
Nonetheless, the media, the LGBTQ lobby, the ACLU, and even members of Congress continue to misrepresent the case and smear Jack Phillips.
At a recent press briefing, Maryland Congressman Stenny Hoyer told the cameras, “We’re better than exclusion, we’re better than hate, we’re better than prejudice. We respect each and every one of our fellow citizens.”
Well, each and every citizen except, I suppose, Jack Phillips.
The liberal website ThinkProgress (which by the way calls the Alliance Defending Freedom an “anti-LGBTQ hate group”) wrote that Phillips refused to sell the gay couple “any product.”
That’s simply not true. He offered them anything in the shop that was already made.
I could go on and on with the misrepresentations—and the omissions. But the facts are Jack was not singling out gay customers. He simply refuses to use his artistic talent in a way that would violate his core convictions.
Today on the BreakPoint podcast, you can hear Jack’s attorney Kristen Waggoner and the Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson describe the details and significance of this case, and how you can support Jack Phillips. Come to BreakPoint.org to find it.
BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.
John Stonestreet, the host of The Point, a daily national radio program, provides thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.
Photo courtesy: Religion News Service
Publication date: November 9, 2017