Masterpiece Cakeshop

ADF’s Marissa Poulson posted a piece to their blog late Friday titled “When a State Targets the Beliefs of Christian Bakers: Jack Phillips Case Rejected by Colorado High Court. It is a triumph — a celebration of intellectual dishonesty, hyperbole, arrogance, demagoguery and self-delusion.

For starters the state never “targeted” Jack Phillips or his Masterpiece Cakeshop. Regardless of how they try to frame it as religious freedom or a religious conundrum of conscience, what really happened is that Phillips decided to demonstrate his disapproval by refusing to provide a wedding cake to a gay couple — unless you subscribe to the unsupported contention that baking a cake is some sort of holy sacrament.

When Mr. Phillips refused service he broke the law. If Phillips actually believes that he has a religious obligation to refuse service then he is misguided and he still broke the law. It’s a law that every owner of a public accommodation should understand.

Were it not for the actions of Mr. Phillips, none of this would have happened. It is absurd to suggest that he was targeted for prosecution by the state. The state sets traps for speeders, prostitutes and drug dealers. They are targeted but not Mr. Phillips.

After describing the baker as an artiste, Poulson goes on to write:

Jack has stopped creating cakes for weddings because if he does, he risks being hauled into court and fined because of a Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruling that says Jack discriminated when he declined to create a cake for the celebration of a same-sex union in 2012.

Wrong. Phillips stopped baking wedding cakes, not because of a prior conviction but because he does not want to provide them to gay couples. Actually he has been hoisted by his own petard. Phillips made the claim that his conscience would not allow him to bake such a cake. Sure. Now he is kind of stuck. The simple solution for Mr. Phillips is probably to post a sign that he disapproves of same-sex marriage. Gay couples are unlikely to award bigotry with commerce.

What? You think that I am being harsh? Phillips’ religious beliefs preclude him from entering into a same-sex marriage. Period. Baking a cake is not participation in something that he does not believe in. Otherwise, there are many more cakes that he is precluded from baking including anything to do with any other religion. Moreover, it doesn’t seem to bother Mr. Phillips that he probably baked wedding cakes for people on their third marriages (each). Was he a participant in, or a promoter of, such debauchery? People like Mr. Phillips are the very reason that we have nondiscrimination laws in the first place.

Poulson continues:

Jack believes that God created marriage as a lifelong union between one man and one woman. Instead of acknowledging that the First Amendment protects his right to live out and express his faith, the state decided to force Jack to promote the government’s view of marriage in his business over his own beliefs. The Commission ordered Jack to stop “discriminating,” “reeducate his staff,” and file quarterly compliance reports.

There. He said it himself (or Poulson said it for him). “Lifelong union.” No cakes for divorcees! Does he have a pre-order questionnaire? Moreover, the government isn’t forcing Phillips to “promote” anything. That’s just wholesale BS. Mr. Phillips, by virtue of having a business license, agrees to comply with applicable laws relating to a public accommodation. He might not like interracial marriages either — but he is required to serve customers without regard to certain characteristics. The idea that baking a cake for a same-sex marriage is promoting same-sex marriages is just egotistical, arrogant fantasy. He is baking a fucking cake. That’s it.

And unfortunately, that ruling will continue to stand, for now, after the Colorado Supreme Court refused to hear Jack’s appeal earlier this week.

It’s not like this guy didn’t get due process. Last July, the Colorado Court of Appeals heard the case and sustained the prior rulings of the administrative court in 2013 and the Civil Rights Commission in 2014. So the state’s Supreme Court would have been a fourth bite of the apple. Little wonder why the Court chose not to hear the case. So now ADF being ADF will try to get this case before the Supreme Court of the United States. The Court declined to hear the very similar case of a wedding photographer (Elane Photography v. Willock) a couple of years ago when Scalia was still among the living. This should be no different — including the fact that Elane Photography was also represented by ADF.

The lawyers at ADF know perfectly well that Scalia’s opinion in Employment Division v. Smith is controlling. There are no religious exemptions to otherwise valid state laws.

Jack doesn’t create cakes for all events. He has a set of values based on his religious beliefs—a moral code—that he lives his life by, including in his work. And when an event conflicts with his beliefs, he doesn’t participate. He can’t.

“[Declining an order] is not just the case for same-sex weddings. I haven’t singled out that one issue as something I won’t do. I don’t make cakes for bachelor parties, I don’t make Halloween cakes, or anything involving witchcraft. . .,” says Jack.

None of that has anything to do with providing service to a protected class. Phillips’ lawyers know that and Phillips should know that. Bachelors and Halloween celebrants can’t take Jack to court for discrimination. It’s a dishonest argument and ADF is promoting dishonesty. I bet he makes a bar mitzvah cake every now and then (there are numerous synagogues in the general area). Those kids, according to Phillips, are going to Hell because they do not accept Jesus Christ as their lord and savior. According to Phillips’ stated logic, he is promoting apostasy.

Just like a Kentucky court agreed
that a religious printer cannot be forced to print certain messages on
t-shirts against his conscience, a cake artist, through his artistic
expression, shouldn’t be forced to use his talents to promote a message
that violates his conscience. It’s Free Expression 101. 

Kentucky also has a museum depicting dinosaurs with saddles on the premise that man and dinosaurs co-existed. Furthermore this is an entirely different issue. Phillips is asked to print the exact same message for all customers. It’s not the message. It’s the fact that there are two brides or two grooms in the message and he does not approve. Hey, Jack: Your approval is neither sought nor required.

Ironically, in 2015, the same Civil Rights Commission exonerated Colorado cake artists who declined to create cakes that violated their own consciences. So what was the type of message that was requested for these cakes? Bible verses that conveyed the customer’s religious opposition to same-sex marriage.

More dishonesty. Three cases were dismissed for lack of probable cause that discrimination based on creed existed. In all three cases the Commission concluded that the issue was the use of derogatory language which the bakers declined to print and that they would deny such cakes to any customer. ADF knows this. There is no similarity at all.

“The commission’s inconsistent rulings mean that the owners of these
three cake shops may run them according to their beliefs, while Jack
cannot,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. 
“He risks losing his life-long business altogether if he continues to
run it consistent with his faith. Such blatant religious discrimination
has no place in our society.”

Mr. Tedesco is full of crap. Surely he knows the difference. The idea that this is religious discrimination is preposterous. According to my religion I should drive at 80 per. When I get a ticket I’ll kvetch about religious discrimination.

Jack is currently considering his legal options before his next step. But no matter what Jack decides to do, the beauty of this situation is that Jack is already blessed (James 1:12). He has the admiration of Christians everywhere for his strong, humble stand for freedom. He has put his faith before the demands of men, and that is all any of us can hope to do in our lifetimes.

Please be praying for Jack and his family as they seek the Lord for wisdom and guidance during this time.

Jack is off to SCOTUS because of conservative Christian calculus. ADF will raise more money by keeping this case in play than the costs they will incur in taking it further. They might wait until after the election to see if by chance Mr. Trump defeats Secretary Clinton.

Come to think of it, a Clinton presidency along with Democratic control of the Senate pretty much puts ADF out of business. Puts them out of their misery, and ours. Let us all do our part to facilitate that result.

By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.