Today, the Supreme Court will begin hearing the oral arguments in the prominent Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case. The case is a pivotal one in the ongoing conflict between religious liberty and LGBT rights, culminating into what will be very decisive legal proceedings.
In July 2012, Jack Phillips famously declined to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding, but offered to make the couple any other baked good. The couple stormed out of the bakery, and shortly after that Phillips began receiving phone calls from people harassing and even threatening him. Rather than responding with anger, he interpreted the calls as an opportunity to pray for those seeking to intimidate him. Phillips is a devout Christian, which is his reasoning for refusing to contribute to a same-sex wedding.
The disgruntled couple filed a complaint against Phillips for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Even though Phillips openly stated that he would happily serve any customer of any race, gender, or sexual orientation, but he would not make customary products that directly violate his religious beliefs. He also refuses to make cakes that are anti-gay or anti-American, which dispels the entire notion that Phillips is an intolerant zealot targeting homosexuals.
In spite of all this, an administrative judge ruled against Masterpiece Cakeshop in December 2013, claiming that designing and creating cakes for wedding ceremonies is not protected under the First Amendment. As a result of this, Phillips lost 40 percent of his business and over half of his employees. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission also told Phillips that he had to “re-educate” employees, report his artistic decisions to the government, which included revealing any and all cakes he didn’t bake and why.
The idea that the government can force a business to provide goods or services is repulsive and dangerous. The Left is so beholden to LGBT advocacy that they are willing to quash religious liberty, since it will likely appeal to much of their voting base on the grounds of “inclusion.” The contempt that many on the Left have for American religiosity is disgusting, as is the alacrity to invoke fascistic action on their political opposition.
However, this particular case has as much to do with freedom of speech and association as it does religious liberty. Whether the rationale for refusing service is religiously-based or not is largely irrelevant. The underlying assertion is that one can force someone else to provide them something, or use the government as their scapegoat to coerce services. It would be egregiously immoral to force a Jew to provide a good or service for a Nazi, such as a wedding cake that features swastikas. Moreover, forcing an LGBT graphic designer to create a banner for the Westboro Baptist Church is equally atrocious. The potential examples here are endless, as is government authority over our lives and businesses if Masterpiece Cakeshop is not exonerated by the Supreme Court.
Needless to say, the results of this case are critical for the future of religious liberty, as well as freedom of speech and association in the United States.