Supreme Court Victory?

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by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  June 11, 2018   

Jack Phillips: I serve all people but not all occasions

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The Christian baker who obtained a tentative victory in the U.S. Supreme Court last week, is explaining that he gladly serves all people but can't design cakes to celebrate occasions that violate his Christian faith.

In a letter published Thursday in The Wall Street Journal, Colorado baker Jack Phillips explains that creating cakes for specific events is more than simply baking. It's a personal statement of his inner convictions. "Designing each wedding cake is an expressive act," wrote Phillips. "My perspective and beliefs are inseparable from the work I create."

He recalled that, in 2012, when he "politely declined" the request to make a cake celebrating the so-called wedding of two men, he told the customers "I would sell them anything else in my shop, or create a cake for them for a different event."

Phillips says he can't pick up his faith "on Sunday mornings" and then ignore it "during the rest of the week." He tells everyone, gay or straight, that this is why he can't "design cakes that celebrate events or express messages that conflict with my faith." This isn't just about cakes heralding gay weddings. Phillips says he also refuses to make cakes that celebrate "Halloween or memorialize a divorce," among other occasions.

"The men who sued me say I discriminated against them," recounts Phillips. "That’s not true. Declining to design something because of what it celebrates isn't the same as refusing to serve people because of who they are." He has publically extended an invitation to the men who sued him and to all people, gay or straight, to buy goods at his shop.

"Those men are welcome in my shop today, just as they were in 2012," Phillips affirmed. "But I can't create a cake that celebrates a view of marriage at odds with my Christian beliefs."

In light of the Court's decision, Phillips plans to start creating wedding cakes again, which he reports accounts for 40 percent of his baking business. Judicial analysists note, however, that because of the narrowness of the Supreme Court's ruling, Phillips may well be sued again for refusing to design cakes celebrating so-called same-sex weddings.

Watch the panel discuss the High Court's narrow decision upholding religious freedom in The Download—Supreme Court Victory?


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