A Colorado baker who was punished by his state for living by his Christian faith now will have his case reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The justices announced Monday they will hear this fall the case brought by Jack Phillips and his Masterpiece Cakeshop.
Advertisement - story continues below
Phillips was publicly berated and punished by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission – one supposedly neutral commissioner lashed out at him publicly and compared him to a Nazi – when Phillips said he could not use his artistry to promote a same-sex "wedding."
The state Supreme Court then refused, without explanation, to intervene, setting up Phillips' request to the nation's highest court.
"I would also like to reiterate what we said in the hearing or the last meeting," Rice said during consideration of Phillips' case. "Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust, whether it be – I mean, we – we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to – to use their religion to hurt others."
Advertisement - story continues below
Hear a recording of Rice's statement:
The Alliance Defending Freedom, which is working on behalf of Phillips, said such "animus" in a state is "alarming" and "has not place in civil society.
ADF said Rice's comment "suggests that other members of the commission may share her view that people who believe marriage is only between a man and a woman are comparable to those who committed the Holocaust."
Advertisement - story continues below
"This anti-religious bias undermines the integrity of the commission."
The Colorado state Supreme Court, including a justice who boasted on a state website of being a homosexual-rights advocate through the Denver mayor's GLBT Commission, refused to intervene.
The Colorado court said that Chief Justice Nancy Rice and Justice Nathan Coats would have reviewed the case because of the important questions it raises. But four other justices, including Monica Marquiz, who boasted of winning the Colorado GLBT Bar Association's 2009 Outstanding GLBT Attorney Award, joined with a growing social movement that insists homosexual rights trump the religious rights protected by the Constitution.
Advertisement - story continues below
All four refused to respond to WND requests for comment.
They left standing a lower-court opinion forcing Phillips and his staff to create cakes for same-sex celebrations in violation of his religious faith. The lower-court ruling also ordered a re-education program for Phillips and his staff.
ADF noted the re-education order from the state.
The order was that "Phillips and his employees … create cakes that celebrate same-sex ceremonies and required Phillips to comply with Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act by re-educating his staff (which includes members of his own family) and filing quarterly 'compliance' reports for two years."
"Every American should be free to choose which art they will create and which art they won't create without fear of being unjustly punished by the government," said ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman.
"That's why the bad decision in this case needs to be reversed. It imperils everyone’s freedom by crushing dissent instead of tolerating a diversity of views. We are all at risk when government is able to punish citizens like Jack just because it doesn't like how he exercises his artistic freedom. America must have room for people who disagree to coexist."
Jeremy Tedesco, senior counsel for ADF, continued: "Jack's ability to make a living and run his family business shouldn't be threatened simply because he exercised his artistic freedom. Artists speak through their art, and when Jack creates custom wedding cakes, he is promoting and celebrating the couple's wedding. Jack will gladly allow anyone to purchase any product he sells, but he simply can't put his artistic talents to use on a custom cake for an event so at odds with his faith convictions.
"The ACLU, which is opposing Jack and other artists in Washington and Arizona, would rather use the strong-arm of government to eradicate from the public square people whose views differ from the government's. We hope the Supreme Court will affirm how illegitimate that is," he said.
Back in July 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins wanted Phillips to make a wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex "marriage."
"Phillips politely declined, explaining that he would gladly make them any other type of baked item they wanted but that he could not make a cake promoting a same-sex ceremony because of his faith," ADF said.
The duo complained to the state commission, which after Rice's diatribe, ruled against Phillips.
"In contrast to the ruling against Phillips, the commission found in 2015 that three other Denver cake artists were not guilty of creed discrimination when they declined a Christian customer’s request for a cake that reflected his religious opposition to same-sex marriage," ADF pointed out.
The petition to the Supreme Court noted the state of Colorado's conclusion in the case "flouts this court's controlling precedent … conflicts with Ninth and Eleventh Circuit decisions regarding the free speech protection of art … deepens an existing conflict between the Second, Third, Sixth, and Eleventh Circuits as to the proper test for identifying expressive conduct, and … conflicts with free exercise rulings by the Third, Sixth, and Tenth Circuits."
"It is undisputed that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission…does not apply CADA [Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act] to ban (1) an African-American cake artist from refusing to create a cake promoting white-supremacism for the Aryan Nation, (2) an Islamic cake artist from refusing to create a cake denigrating the Quran for the Westboro Baptist Church, and (3) three secular cake artists from refusing to create cakes opposing same-sex marriage for a Christian patron," the request to the high court explained. "Neither should CADA ban Jack Phillips' polite declining to create a cake celebrating same-sex marriage on religious grounds when he is happy to create other items for gay and lesbian clients."
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said the U.S. Supreme Court "now has an opportunity to issue a ruling that makes clear the government has no authority to force Americans like Jack Phillips to use their artistic talents to celebrate events with which they have a moral and/or religious disagreement."
"With Justice Gorsuch now on the bench, we are more optimistic that the Supreme Court will uphold our nation's long tradition of respecting the freedom of Americans to follow their deeply held beliefs, especially when it comes to participating in activities and ceremonies that so many Americans consider sacred.
"The First Amendment has long protected Americans from being compelled by the government to advocate a message to which one objects. As Americans, our consensus on religious freedom has historically recognized the God-given right of Americans to live all aspects of their lives according to their faith. This is no different today. Attempting to restrict religious conviction to the four walls of a church is not freedom, that is tyranny," concluded Perkins.
While many bureaucratic and court decisions in recent years have endorsed the homosexual agenda's requirement that Christians not just allow but support that cause have decided that those designated "civil rights" trump the Constitution's religious rights provisions, there have been two decisions just recently that have gone against the tide.
WND reported just this month when a federal appeals court upheld a Mississippi law that protects the religious freedom of those who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, and that gender is determined at birth.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court not only reversed an injunction imposed by a lower court – preventing the implementation of the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act – it went further and simply dismissed the case.
The ruling found that the individuals and homosexual advocacy organizations who challenged the law didn't have standing to bring their claims.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys are part of the legal team representing Gov. Phil Bryant in the lawsuits, Barber v. Bryant and Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant.
ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot reacted to the ruling.
"Good laws like Mississippi's protect freedom and harm no one. The court did the right thing in finding that those who have challenged this law haven't been harmed and, therefore, can't try to take the law down," he said.
Theriot explained that the sole purpose of the law is "to ensure that Mississippians don't live in fear of losing their careers or their businesses simply for affirming marriage as a husband-wife union."
"Those who filed suit have not and will not be harmed but want to restrict freedom and impose their beliefs on others by ensuring dissenters are left open to the government discrimination that has already occurred in states without protective laws like this one," he said.
The organization explained state House Bill 1523 "protects citizens, public servants, businesses, and religious institutions from government reprisal for operating publicly according to their belief that marriage is reserved for one man and one woman."
The governor signed the bill into law in April 2016, but a federal district court stopped its enforcement shortly thereafter.
The law provides that those who believe marriage is between one man and one woman, people should not have sex outside such marriages, and a person's gender is set at birth cannot be persecuted by the government for acting on these beliefs.
For example, a business owner who declines to promote same-sex weddings would be protected. The law directly defeats many of the agenda points homosexuals cling to: it says religious organizations are protected when they make decisions regarding employment, housing, the placement of children in foster or adoptive homes, or the solemnization of marriage based on their beliefs. Also parents are protected if they raise foster or adoptive children according to their beliefs. And doctors and mental health counselors cannot be compelled to provide services in violation of their beliefs. Businesses are protected if they decline to provide services on the basis of their faith.
WND also reported earlier on a case brought against a T-shirt maker by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission in Kentucky.
The group appealed to the state's Supreme Court a recent appeals court decision that business owners must serve all people equally but don't have to treat all messages equally.
It was a T-shirt printer, Blaine Adamson, who, with his company Hands On Originals, was sued by the local Human Rights Commission for refusing to promote "gay" rights.
WND reported in May when the Kentucky Court of Appeals affirmed a Fayette Circuit Court decision that sided with Adamson, saying he could not be forced, in violation of his faith, to print messages demanded by "gay" customers.
The Alliance Defending Freedom contends the high court should leave the decision alone.
"Americans should always have the freedom to say no when asked to express ideas that violate their conscience. Blaine is willing to serve all people, but he cannot print all messages. The two lower courts properly affirmed that Blaine can't be forced to print words and logos that express ideas in conflict with his faith. The Kentucky Supreme Court should leave those decisions in place," said Senior Counsel Jim Campbell.
In the T-shirt case, Adamson declined to promote homosexuality, and the Human Rights Commission ordered he "must print messages that conflict with his faith when customers ask him to do so."
But the court in the Kentucky case said, "Nothing of record demonstrates HOO, through Adamson, refused any individual the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations it offered to everyone else because the individual in question had a specific sexual orientation or gender identity. Adamson testified he never learned of or asked about the sexual orientation or gender identity of of Don Lowe, the only representative of GLSO with whom he spoke regarding the T-shirts.
"Don Lowe testified he never told Adamson anything regarding his sexual orientation or gender identity. The GLSO itself also has no sexual orientation or gender identity: it is a gender-neutral organization that functions as a support network and advocate for individuals who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered," the court found.
"Also, nothing of record demonstrates HOO, through Adamson, refused any individual the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations it offered to everyone else because the individual in question was engaging in an activity or conduct exclusively or predominantly by a protected class of people."
The ruling said: "The 'service' HOO offers is the promotion of messages. The 'conduct' HOO chose not to promote was pure speech. There is no contention that HOO is a public forum in addition to a public accommodation. Nothing in the fairness ordinance prohibits HOO, a private business, from engaging in viewpoint or message censorship."
Obama's 'gay' agenda'
Only last year, under President Obama, a report from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights lamented that the Constitution limits governmental burdens on religion.
The agency's report last year, when Obama only had a few months left in the White House, "Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Nondiscrimination Principles with Civil Liberties," gets immediately to the point.
On the first of 306 pages, the "letter of transmittal" to Obama states, "Religious exemptions to the protections of civil rights based upon classifications such as race, color, national origin, sex, disability status, sexual orientation, and gender identity, when they are permissible, significantly infringe upon these civil rights."
It says the fault lies with the First Amendment's Establishment Clause, which "constricts the ability of government actors to curtail private citizens' rights to the protections of nondiscrimination laws and policies."
"Although the First Amendment's Free Exercise Clause and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act … limit the ability of government actors to impede individuals from practicing their religious beliefs, religious exemptions from nondiscrimination laws and policies must be weighed carefully and defined narrowly on a fact-specific basis," states the letter.
Then the commission got to what it really wants, stating federal legislation "should be considered to clarify that RFRA creates First Amendment Free Exercise Clause rights only for individuals and religious institutions and only to the extent that they do not unduly burden civil liberties and civil rights protections against status-based discrimination."
"States with RFRA-style laws should amend those statutes to clarify that RFRA creates First Amendment Free Exercise Clause rights only for individuals and religious institutions. States with laws modeled after RFRA must guarantee that those statutes do not unduly burden civil liberties and civil rights with status-based discrimination," the Obama agenda claimed.