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Religious liberty supporters cautiously celebrate cake ruling

by Lynde Langdon
Posted 6/04/18, 01:37 pm

UPDATE: Colorado baker Jack Phillips expressed his gratitude to the Supreme Court on Monday for overturning a discrimination judgment against him. 

“It’s hard to believe that the government punished me for operating my business consistent with my beliefs about marriage. That isn’t freedom or tolerance,” said Phillips, a Christian whose decision not to bake custom cakes for same-sex weddings led to the court case. “I’m so thankful to the U.S. Supreme Court for this ruling.”

Religious liberty advocates also welcomed the ruling, though some tempered their enthusiasm because of the decision’s narrow scope.

“The language of the ruling suggests that if the Colorado commission had given the appearance of fair dealing with the Christian baker, it could have ruled the same way and avoided today’s SCOTUS ruling,” wrote Rod Dreher for The American Conservative.

Fox News commentator Brit Hume echoed Dreher’s concern, tweeting, “Religious freedom advocates celebrating the 7-2 ruling in favor of the Colorado bake shop should keep this in mind: The ruling relied heavily on the openly hostile treatment of the bakers’ religious convictions by the Colorado authorities.”

OUR EARLIER REPORT (11:07 a.m.): In a historic win for public expression of faith, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of Colorado baker Jack Phillips’ right not to make a cake for a same-sex wedding because of his Biblical beliefs about marriage. “The 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,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion released Monday. A same-sex couple sued Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo., in 2012 when he declined to make them a custom wedding cake. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled Phillips was illegally discriminating against the couple, so he stopped making custom wedding cakes altogether at a substantial cost to his business. The Supreme Court justices agreed in a 7-2 vote that the commission violated Phillips’ freedom of religious expression and “showed elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs motivating his objection,” Kennedy wrote. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented. The decision leaves open the possibility that other courts might still rule against Christian professionals who only serve at weddings between one man and one woman. Kennedy noted that the debate warranted “further elaboration,” depending on the circumstances and urged tolerance on all sides.

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Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital’s managing editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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  •  Greg Mangrum's picture
    Greg Mangrum
    Posted: Mon, 06/04/2018 11:23 am

    Yes! Freedom still matters. Tyranny is held at bay for another day.

  •  Xion's picture
    Posted: Mon, 06/04/2018 12:59 pm

    The well-written brief shows that this slippery decision won't last. Colorado didn't recognize same sex marriage at the time.  Now it does.  What wasn't addressed was the larger issue of LGBT legitimacy based on invented rights and misinterpretation of the law.  Justice Kennedy's main concern seemed to be the enforcement of niceness on both sides, neither imposing a stigma on “gay persons” nor being hostile to religion.  Well, the First Amendment specifically grants the right to offend.  Laws which impose religious neutrality are inherently hostile to religion.  This entire morass began when the First Amendment was misinterpreted to mean the right to not be offended, especially by religion.

  • Hawkdriver
    Posted: Mon, 06/04/2018 01:51 pm

    Well said.

  • Hawkdriver
    Posted: Mon, 06/04/2018 01:49 pm

    Thank God and keep praying. 

    I wonder how far this decision extends?  By that I mean, in the verbage of the ruling, it seems like it could be interpreted narrowly to this specific case at the time it occured (2012).  Any law experts out there please assist.

  •  CaptTee's picture
    Posted: Mon, 06/04/2018 02:21 pm

    I am offended by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor. Does that mean they have to retire? By their logic, it does!

  •  phillipW's picture
    Posted: Mon, 06/04/2018 02:25 pm

    Just look at how long this took and how much it cost to get a decision that should have been obvious to anyone with a conscience.  If you think this a win for religious liberty you are mistaken.  It's a win for the enemy, because they know that they have the money and the patience to continue to punish those that oppose their anti-God agenda.  They'll keep suing until all professing Christians are out of business.  It's not a matter of if, but when at this point.  Court decisions are meaningless when they take 6 years to render a decision.

  • OldMike
    Posted: Mon, 06/04/2018 03:58 pm

    Yes, phillipW, but who wins in the end?

    "for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” — 1 John 4:4, ESV

  • MTJanet
    Posted: Mon, 06/04/2018 06:01 pm

    There seems to be a court-based fear that if religious freedom is recognized then all the LGBT people will be marginalized.  When did it become society's problem to help people feel "accepted" when doing certain activities, particularly when they are offensive to others?   A ridiculous and juvenile notion.  Somehow our message of not endorsing certain events while at the same time serving these same people at other times and for other events needs to be upheld by law.