Let them eat cake?
December 10, 2017
Let them eat cake? I have written a few times in the past about a Supreme Court case that is very important for Christians. Its title is Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Initial arguments for the case are being heard by the high court even as I write this (on Tuesday, 12/5). The case centers around a Colorado homosexual couple who were “married” in Massachusetts, and then wanted to have a party in their home state of Colorado. They approached Jack Phillips, an evangelical Christian, who designs custom cakes, to make one for their reception. When he found out the nature of the occasion, he politely refused to make the cake and explained his reasoning. While he does serve all customers, he refuses to do so in any way which violates his Christian faith. For example, he refuses to make cakes with crude or vulgar messages. As does the Catholic Church, he believes that it is an offense before God for two men or two women to “marry” each other, so he could not in good conscience make the cake for that occasion.
The couple became enraged and sued him under Colorado law. While we don’t all have to become legal scholars, it is important to understand some basics here, because Christians could certainly be on the cusp of having their basic right to conscience stripped away from them under civil law, and we should know how the states and the courts would justify this outrage.
The State’s claim is that Mr. Phillips is violating their public accommodations law, which bars ‘discrimination’ based on sexual orientation. Under their reasoning, public accommodations mean that, when services are offered, they have to be offered equally to everybody. Such laws date at least to the 1960s, when many people refused to serve African-Americans (for example, at restaurants), until the law required them to do so, upon penalty of very steep fines or even imprisonment.
At a very superficial glance, this might seem reasonable. The pro-homosexual-marriage crowd insist that the treatment of homosexuals is just like the treatment of racial minorities, and the law just has to catch up with them. It is the new “civil rights” issue of our time, they claim.
But is this really true? The answer is certainly, no. This is really a red herring argument (distraction argument). Mr. Phillips served plenty of homosexual customers and would have made any number of kinds of cakes for these particular customers. The only thing that he refused to do was to bake a cake specifically for a “wedding,” because he believed (quite reasonably) that could be construed as support for an act he thought was immoral.
The state claims that any valid law passed that is neutral and applies generally, regarding service of the public, must be followed, and that there is no “out” for conscience. That is dangerous. But worse, the real issue, it turns out, is that the State of Colorado wants to coerce people into a particular belief, which opposes Christian teaching. How do we know they aren’t sincere? The very same state Civil Rights Commission which insisted that Mr. Phillips make cakes supporting a homosexual wedding allowed three other bakers to deny service to religious customers who requested a cake whose message was critical of same-sex “marriage.”
That blew the covers off the lie of the State of Colorado, who claimed that their goal was to get businesses to serve people regardless of their belief system. There is an unsupportable double standard here: they are fine with attempting to force people to violate their consciences when it comes to Christian teaching, but have no problem enabling people who oppose Christian teaching to refuse service to someone, because they want them to be able to follow their consciences.
This should be alarming to us who practice the faith, especially if Mr. Phillips loses his case. While no definite timetable is given, it will likely be decided in June. Please pray for him and for our nation, that our governments will respect the consciences of Christians. see.