What would you do if someone blatantly mischaracterized your story on national television?
Jack Philips, the cake artist at the center of the recent Supreme Court victory in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, will have to answer that question after ABC’s What Would You Do? featured a politically charged segment on his story this past Friday, June 15.
The hidden-camera show hosted by John Quiñones involves actors staging topical scenarios to see how unsuspecting people will react. On the occasion of the 7-2 Masterpiece decision earlier this month, they set up a scenario supposedly inspired by Jack’s story.
I say “supposedly” because the scenario featured on What Would You Do? is not at all representative of Jack’s real-life story.
The episode featured two women entering a bakery and explaining to the man behind the counter that they would like to buy a cake for their wedding. The man sharply says to them “You’re having a lesbian wedding? I can’t do a lesbian wedding.” In a later scenario, the man even adds that it’s “appalling to me” and “it’s disgusting!” and then asks the two women to leave his store: “Are you guys still here? You’re disturbing my customers.”
Anyone who has read about Jack and his case will know that this actor’s rendition is far from reality.
Jack serves all people, but he cannot celebrate every event or express every message. When Charlie Craig and David Mullins came into Masterpiece Cakeshop in 2012, Jack was nothing but polite to the two men. When they told him they wanted a cake designed for their same-sex wedding, Jack explained that he’d sell them anything else in his shop or create a cake for them for a different occasion, but that he just couldn’t design a wedding cake celebrating a same-sex marriage.
Thankfully, the majority of commenters on the What Would You Do? Facebook page recognize that this episode blatantly obscures facts in order to promote a specific political agenda. “Not cool. This is such a bogus spin on what really happened,” says one Facebook user. “Plain and simple, this episode was just wrong,” says another.
Why would ABC blatantly misrepresent and sensationalize Jack’s story? Probably so they would receive the following reactions to their set-up. “It’s just not fair,” said one customer. “Making a judgment call just because that person does not believe the way you do is the same as not allowing me to sit down in a restaurant because of the color of my skin.”
“You don’t impose your personal opinion on a customer,” said another angry participant.
If ABC had allowed these customers to see the real story, they might have come to the conclusion that it was actually the state of Colorado imposing its opinion on Jack. For the simple choice not to celebrate an event contrary to his Christian beliefs, Jack was punished by the state.
Jack was ordered to “re-educate” his staff, requiring him to explain to the family members who work for him that he was wrong to act according to his religious beliefs about marriage. He was also required to file quarterly reports with the state about what cake designs he declined to create and why.
And the state told him that he must either design wedding cakes celebrating same-sex marriages in violation of his faith or stop creating wedding cakes altogether. Because Jack could not violate his faith, he shut down his wedding-cake business—a decision that cost him 40 percent of his business and half of his staff.
In reality, Jack serves all people regardless of who they are. Jack does not turn away customers who identify as LGBT, and many in the LGBT community support Jack’s right to run his business according to his faith.
Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Jim Campbell recently spent the day in Masterpiece Cakeshop and witnessed a first-hand account of this support: “A female customer walked in and asked to speak with the owner. When Phillips emerged from the back, she introduced herself and said: ‘I’m gay, and I support you. You’re in the right.’”
Jack’s wife Debi said this sort of interaction “happens all the time.”
The hateful man rudely turning away customers featured on What Would You Do? is a false and offensive representation of Jack Philips. The real Jack, as Campbell observed, not only serves all customers, but also goes out of his way to serve those in need within his community.
But I guess a depiction of an upstanding citizen with a simple religious objection to expressing a particular message does not make for good television.