Freedom State

When #EqualityForAll does not include Christian bakers

Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, opens his doors to everyone. “People of all walks of life are always welcome in the store… I serve everybody, I just don’t make cakes for every event,” Phillips has said. Phillips is a Christian, which means he refuses to use his artistry to decorate cakes that endorse a message contrary to his faith and conviction. “There are certain messages that I don’t create,” Phillips states. “I don’t do cakes for Halloween, I don’t do cakes that would promote sexual things, or anti-American things, or things that would disparage other people, including [those] that identify as LGBT.”

So, in 2012, when Charlie Craig and David Mullins entered the store and asked Phillips to design a custom wedding cake for their same-sex marriage, Phillips politely declined. “Sorry, guys, I don’t make cakes for same-sex weddings,” Phillips said, before suggesting they pick a pre-made cake. The conversation lasted less than 30 seconds, but what followed would last five years.

The couple filed a charge with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, alleging Phillips discriminated against them, violating Colorado’s Public Accommodations Law, which forbids discrimination on the grounds of “disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin or ancestry.” Commissioner Diaan Rice of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled in favour of Craig and Mullins, claiming sexual orientation is a protected class, like race:

“The U.S. Supreme Court has found over and over that you cannot discriminate on the basis of race, and sexual orientation is a status absolutely like race.”

Subsequently, the case went to the Court of Appeals, which similarly found Phillips had no First Amendment rights in this case, as he was not engaging in speech. Phillips was forced to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. A ruling is set to take place before the end of June 2018.

During the course of this ordeal, Phillips’ small family business has suffered immensely. “We decided a while back that when the ruling came down, we wouldn’t make any wedding cakes, period,” Phillips said. This decision has cost the business up to 40% of their income. “Before this happened, I had 10 people on payroll. Now, I have four, counting me.”

“There were days when my wife was actually afraid to come to the shop. We’ve had death threats, harassing phone calls, been forced by the government to give up 40% of our income…”

In response, a GoFundMe campaign was set up to support Masterpiece Cakeshop which has exceeded their goal of $10,000 by more than $4,000.

Lawyer Kristen Waggoner, from Alliance Defending Freedom, explains the significance of this case:

“What’s at stake in this case is the right of all creative professionals to be able to create artistic expression that’s consistent with their convictions. But I think we really need to ask ourselves–it’s not just the Christian faith that’s under attack here–are we really willing to have Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Protestant creative professionals all purged from the public square simply because of their religious beliefs?”

As Devin Sena states: “Bakers can refuse to decorate a cake with a swastika, or a racial slur. Photographers can refuse to do a nude photoshoot. This case is about individual liberties, not LGBT rights.” In the video below, Michael Knowles, from the Daily Wire points out: “Anti-Discrimination laws entitle you to an artists product, but not to their creativity.” There is a difference, and that is the real issue here.

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