Today, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The case involves Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips, who has asked the court to uphold his freedom to live and work consistent with his religious convictions, a freedom the First Amendment guarantees.
For Jack, politely declining to design and create a cake for a same-sex wedding back in 2012 wasn't an unusual occurrence or some big defining moment (at least so he thought). Jack gave the same answer that he had already given to someone requesting a cake for a Halloween party or bachelor party—I’m sorry, but I can’t promote messages that violate my beliefs, though I'd be happy to sell you anything else.
The unusual part came next:
- Verbally abusive phone calls and death threats against his family.
- The Colorado commission’s mandate to reeducate his staff that it is illegal to operate his business according to his faith.
- The fact that Jack had to stop making wedding cakes—which made up 40 percent of his business—because he risked being hauled into court again and again if he continued to make them.
It’s unusual because we are supposed to live in a country where all citizens are free to exercise their constitutionally protected freedoms. This includes not only artistic freedom, but the freedom to live and work according to one’s beliefs without punishment from the government.
But, because of groups like the ACLU, who is once again at the center of this case, that’s not the America we are seeing today.
More frequently, creative professionals like Jack are finding that if they don’t toe the line of political correctness and publically embrace and contribute their talents to affirm same-sex marriage, then there’s going to be trouble.
This can’t be what the Supreme Court envisioned when it imposed a new definition of marriage on the entire country in Obergefell v. Hodges. In a constitutional republic, the government should not have the power to order creative professionals—or anyone for that matter—to celebrate events that violate their faith. The whole idea is antithetical to a Constitution that calls for religious freedom, free expression, and freedom of speech.
Thankfully, the Court now has an opportunity to affirm what the majority in Obergefell wrote about people of faith.
“It must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.”
This is especially important considering the blatant anti-religious bigotry that Jack has faced. In fact, one of the commissioners who heard Jack’s case went so far as to call Jack’s request to affirm religious freedom a “despicable piece of rhetoric.”
The government should not punish its citizens for following their consciences and living their lives in accordance with their deepest convictions. We either all have the freedom to peacefully live and act according to our conscience—or none of us do.
Now, it’s time for the Court to weigh in.
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