(The U.S. Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments in this case on December 5, 2017)
In the thick of the holiday hustle and bustle, the case of Colorado Baker Jack Phillips was argued before the Supreme Court. In the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the State alleges that Phillips’ refusal to custom design a wedding cake for a same sex couple’s wedding was a discriminatory act based on sexual orientation. This case goes back to July 2012 (before same sex marriage had yet been legalized in Colorado) when Charlie Craig and David Mullins of Denver first visited Masterpiece Cakeshop to buy a custom-made wedding cake. This is a monumental case pitting religious freedom against anti-discrimination. Both are federal laws that protect all citizens of the U.S. Therefore, each side believes they are in the right.
But whom are we to believe here? In a guest editorial for the USA Today last month, Phillips delineated why he was unable to “design” and “decorate” the cake. There is a very important distinction here, which Phillips states in the op-ed piece, “What I didn’t say was that I wouldn’t sell them a cake.” As a matter of fact, Phillips went so far as to offer them a “blank” cake the couple could decorate for the nuptials as they wished. But as we are well aware, this would simply not do. Now, the USA Today argued in response to Phillips’ op ed piece that his refusal to create the cake is not a case of religious freedom, but that a public business must accommodate anyone who walks through it’s doors. I can, perhaps, see that point if Masterpiece Cakes were a publicly traded business entity. But this is a small privately-held business. Jack Phillips could put a sign on his door that says “no shirt, no shoes, no service” and not one complaint would be registered.
Where I specifically take umbrage with this case, however, is Phillips has stated time and time again that this is not about discrimination against a same sex couple. He had sold to other same-sex couples in the past other products that were offered at the cake shop. But we are supposed to now believe that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission somehow knows more about Jack Phillips’ motivations than Jack Phillips does?? “We’ll tell you what you think and believe, Citizen!”, is the message that I’m receiving from this decision.
Really, this case should never have made it to the steps of the Supreme Court. It never had to see a courtroom at all. There are two possibilities here; and you can take your pick… either this couple who filed suit against Masterpiece Cakes can tolerate no dissent whatsoever, or Jack Phillips was set up. In this current cultural climate, I am inclined to believe it was both. Under any other circumstances, a person not getting what they want from a business would merely move on (in this case) to the next bakery. They could simply have used word-of-mouth against Masterpiece Cakes and customers would vote with their dollars. This is how America has functioned for over two centuries.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am a Christian. Bake the cake, don’t bake the cake; whatever the Holy Spirit leads one to do (and I’m not going off in the weeds with the “But Cheri, what if the Holy Spirit tells you to shoot someone” argument.) Why is one allowed freedom of conscience but not the other? It’s unlikely we will have a final decision before Spring at the earliest. I pray for Godly wisdom to be given to the SCOTUS, as they will need it to make such a decision. The future ramifications are huge. Stay tuned…
(Cheri Ballinger Coffman is a contributor to Patriot Gaines. Follow Cheri on Twitter under the handle @KvetchChristian. Cheri is the proud mom of three children & resides in Central Illinois.)
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