Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker, is being sued again. Phillips, won a 2018 Supreme Court case when the justices ruled that the state of Colorado acted with “clear and impermissible hostility” toward Phillips’ religious faith, thus violating his First Amendment rights, when they charged him with violating Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws for refusing to custom-design and make a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding. Let’s be clear — Phillips did not refuse to serve the same-sex couple. He did not refuse to sell them a cake. In fact, he offered to sell them any one of the cakes available in his catalog. But, the couple wanted Phillips to use his skills as a baker to custom-design and make a cake celebrating their same-sex wedding. As a Christian adhering to a biblical understanding of marriage, Phillips refused. Colorado sued and Phillips initially lost, but his appeal went all the way to the Supreme Court, and Phillips won.
In 2017, an activist attorney named Autumn Scardina called Phillip’s bakery and requested that Phillips make a cake according to his instructions, pink on the inside with blue icing on top, to celebrate his gender transition. Phillips, again citing his biblical faith, refused. So, Colorado charged Phillips again with violating its anti-discrimination laws. This time, Phillips and the Alliance Defending Freedom, who represents him, sued the state of Colorado for targeting Phillips and also found more evidence of Colorado’s religious hostility toward Phillips’ faith. In response, Colorado dropped their charges. But, Scardina wasn’t willing to give up so easily. He filed his own lawsuit in another court. Yesterday, Judge A. Bruce Jones, in spite of Phillips’ previous win in the Supreme Court, ruled that Phillips had violated Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws. Jones wrote, “The anti-discrimination laws are intended to ensure that members of our society who have historically been treated unfairly, who have been deprived of even the every-day right to access businesses to buy products, are no longer treated as ‘others.’ This case is about one such product—a pink and blue birthday cake—and not compelled speech.”
First, it’s interesting that Jones claims that the anti-discrimination laws “are intended to ensure that members of our society who have historically been treated unfairly … are no longer treated as ‘others.'” That could be interpreted to imply that the laws are not intended to protect everyone from discrimination, but only those who belong to groups that have been historically treated unfairly. Second, it’s interesting that Jones claims that the case is not about compelled speech, when the attorney is demanding that Phillips create a cake according to the attorney’s instructions. If the attorney is so adamant that the cake be made in a specific way, why not make it himself? Why employ the skills of a professional baker to make a cake of such mundane character? It’s pretty obvious to everyone, except perhaps Judge Jones, that Scardina made the request in hopes of broiling Phillips in another lawsuit.
ADF General Counsel Kristen Waggoner issued a statement saying, “In this case, an activist attorney demanded Jack create custom cakes in order to ‘test’ Jack and ‘correct the errors’ of his thinking, and the activist even threatened to sue Jack again if the case was dismissed for any reason. Radical activists and government officials are targeting artists like Jack because they won’t promote messages on marriage and sexuality that violate their core convictions.” Waggoner went on to say, “We will appeal this decision and continue to defend the freedom of all Americans to peacefully live and work according to their deeply held beliefs without fear of punishment.”
I recall when Melania Trump was First Lady, a number of fashion designers said they would refuse to “dress” the First Lady. I don’t recall a lot of outrage about this. Most people, I think, would not require a Jewish bakery to bake non-kosher foods at the request of a customer, especially a customer who could go to any number of other bakeries with his request. Most people, I think, would not require that a Muslim professional singer sing an “Ave” at a Catholic wedding. Most people, I think, would not require that a Black-owned clothing manufacturer supply the uniforms for a KKK rally.
This is not about anti-discrimination. This is about the power to force another to submit. This is about a state and an activist attempting to force a man of faith and conviction to surrender both and submit to a social and political agenda because they cannot abide anyone thinking differently than they.
We need to pray for Jack Phillips and the ADF, because they represent the freedom of all of us to live by our convictions and to remain true to our faith.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.