By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
June 8, 2018
WASHINGTON D.C. – The Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated the First Amendment rights of Christian baker Jack Phillips by insisting that he must use his artistic talents to promote a same-sex wedding. So ruled the U.S. Supreme Court in a 7-2 decision on Monday.
The case was no cakewalk, but that doesn’t mean the outcome isn’t cake worthy.
In fact, it is certainly cause for celebration, according to the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina.
“Liberty and freedom won today. We should be thankful to God for Jack Phillips, the proprietor of Masterpiece Cakeshop for his principled stand. In his obedience to a higher law, the law of God, he helped protect religious liberty for the whole country,” Creech said upon hearing the news.
“We should be thankful to God for the team of attorneys who argued his case. We should be thankful to God that the Supreme Court got this one right. Mostly, we should be thankful to God that in this case He stayed the hand of tyranny when the power of government had gone rogue.”
Creech pointed out that Phillips’ situation is not unique. Since same-sex marriage became legal in 2015, there have been cases across the country of people from various nuptials-related occupations — cake bakers, photographers, owners of wedding venues, florists, etc. — that have been harassed, persecuted, and had their livelihoods threatened by the state because of their religious objections to same-sex marriage.
That Phillips made it to the High Court and won his case should give people of faith renewed hope in First Amendment protections, Creech said, citing a portion of the ruling: “[t]he laws and the Constitution can, and in some instances must, protect gay persons and gay couples in the exercise of their civil rights, but religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression.”
As quickly as the ruling was released on Monday came a debate about its impact, as many in the mainstream media called it a “narrow ruling,” because of its focus on the mindset of a member of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission who disparaged Phillips’ faith when the group upheld a gay couple’s complaint against him. Some media outlets concluded that the court had no problem with the Commission’s decision against Phillips, but simply whistled down its overt display of its distaste for religion.
But David French, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, cited a half dozen reasons that the ruling is truly a victory, the most important of which may be that in his majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy “rebuked one of the more common and vicious leftist talking points — the claim that ‘religious liberty’ is a mere pretext for bigotry.”
Similarly, Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, said the ruling confirmed that, “the First Amendment requires a neutral decision-maker with neutral criteria.”
“Free exercise of religious rights must be given deference and considered seriously. In this case they were not. They were cast aside and some people even denigrated the right to have a religious belief on the issue of marriage,” Staver said.
While he admitted that Phillips’ case was not the final word on the matter, Staver said future rulings should uphold the First Amendment’s broader implications.
“The First Amendment protects not only your right to speak, but your right not to speak and certainly your right not to have the government compel you to speak a message,” he said.
Creech said Christians serious about their faith are not averse to serving people who identify as gay.
“Our Savior, Jesus Christ, commanded his followers to be a humble people with a high priority for helping and assisting others. Jesus said, ‘But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant’ (Matthew 23:11),” Creech said. “However, no Christian should be forced by his government to participate in an event that celebrates something his faith informs him is morally objectionable.
“True tolerance doesn’t require that every truth claim be validated. It only requires that we mutually recognize and respect others beliefs and practices without sharing them.”