It’s been a long time coming.
Finally, a court has acknowledged that the state was wrong to punish Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips for running his business, Masterpiece Cakeshop, consistent with his faith. And not just any court – the U.S. Supreme Court!
After more than five years of litigation, the Supreme Court has ruled in Jack’s favor. Praise God!
And thank you. Your prayers and support throughout this case helped make this victory possible.
Jack has been tied up in this lawsuit since 2012, when a same-sex couple walked into his shop and requested a custom cake to celebrate their wedding. Because Jack is a Christian and believes what the Bible teaches about marriage – that it is the union of one man and one woman – he politely declined. He offered to sell the couple anything else in his store, or design a cake for a different event.
Jack loves and serves all people, but he cannot use his artistic talents to celebrate every event or express every message.
That’s why he has turned down a number of custom cake orders in the past, including cakes celebrating Halloween, bachelor party cakes, and even a cake celebrating a divorce. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for him to decline to design a cake for an event that violates his convictions.
That is, until the threatening and obscenity-filled phone calls started pouring in.
Jack could never have imagined that remaining true to his religious beliefs would result in a five-year legal battle, the loss of 40 percent of his business and half of his employees, and the repression of his artistic and religious freedom.
Not in America, at least.
But after the couple filed complaints with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, that’s exactly what happened.
All of that, plus an avalanche of hateful and threatening mail and phone calls, would be enough to make anyone retreat. But not Jack. He quietly persevered, continuing to love and serve everyone that walked through the doors of Masterpiece Cakeshop.
It is ultimately his love for others and for God that motivated Jack to take this stand in the first place.
Jack understood that if the government has the power to force him to celebrate events or express messages against his faith, it could do that to anyone else. But he doesn’t want others to be targeted by the government and banished from the marketplace simply because they disagree with the government’s favored viewpoints.
Views about important issues like marriage change. But the First Amendment ensures that people of good will who hold beliefs disfavored by the government are free to live according to them.
If we want to be a truly tolerant society, we must provide room for everyone to peacefully live and work according to their beliefs – regardless of whether we agree with their views. As Justice Anthony Kennedy stated during oral arguments in Jack’s case: “[T]olerance is essential in a free society. And tolerance is most meaningful when it's mutual.”
Jack’s win is a step toward greater tolerance. And that is something we should all celebrate.
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