People of faith across America take note: The day of persecution is upon us. We need only look to brave, beleaguered baker Jack Phillips to see this.
You probably already know his name. The U.S. Supreme Court vindicated him earlier this summer in his struggle against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and a gay couple that sought to force him to bake a cake celebrating their same-sex union. But despite the Court’s ruling that Colorado’s handling of the case had demonstrated blatant hostility toward Jack’s religious beliefs in violation of the First Amendment, Jack continues to face hateful attacks from sexual activists and a state bureaucracy bent upon serving their cause.
Within a month of the Supreme Court’s decision, the Commission was at it again. It found that Jack’s Masterpiece Cakeshop had violated Colorado law by refusing to bake a cake celebrating Autumn Scardina’s “coming out as transgender on [her] birthday.” Scardina requested a cake with a blue exterior and a pink interior, “to celebrate a sex-change from male to female.”
Was it just a coincidence that Scardina had called Masterpiece Cakeshop to order this particular cake the very same day in 2017 the Supreme Court announced it would determine whether Colorado could force Jack to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding ceremony? I think not.
Jack’s staff calmly informed Scardina that Masterpiece Cakeshop would not bake the sex-change celebration cake, because that message conflicted with the owners’ Christian worldview. As Christians, they believe that a person’s sex is an immutable, biological reality, determined by God.
According to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a business owner engages in unlawful discrimination if he or she denies “the full and equal enjoyment” of services to a customer who sought those services, is a member of a “protected class,” and is an otherwise “qualified recipient” of the services, under circumstances that “give rise to an inference of unlawful discrimination based upon a protected class.”
The Commission’s report on this incident is quick to point out that Scardina “is a member of a protected classed [sic] based on her sex (female) and transgender status (gender identity).”
In other words, a white male who undergoes a sex-change gains double-protection under Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws. He also gains, apparently, the right to lord his newfound status over others and to force them into a condition with disturbing similarities to slavery – to order others to perform certain types of work against their will and against their consciences.
But let’s be clear: Masterpiece Cakeshop did not, in this case or in the one considered by the Supreme Court, deny anyone “the full and equal enjoyment” of services provided to other customers. The bakery does not create custom cakes for same-sex wedding ceremonies or sex-change celebrations, regardless of whether the customer is a member of a protected class or not.
The pivotal question the Commission should have asked is: “Would you have provided this service to a straight, white, male customer?” If the answer is, “no,” as it would have been for Jack, the case should be closed.
If the Commission’s view stands, it will signal an era in which a wide variety of business owners will be forced to serve the ideology of those lucky members of “protected classes,” whose good graces – or lack thereof – will determine whether the faithful will be permitted to live quiet, productive lives consistently with their consciences.
We stand at a point in history where some are prepared to transform “protected classes” into “privileged classes” who are not merely shielded from actual discrimination, but are instead privileged to persecute anyone who disagrees with them. They are not merely protected from being turned away from a lunch counter at first sight, but are privileged to approach the lunch counter and demand a meal that is simply not on the menu.
Let’s protect everyone from persecution, not from having our feelings hurt, or from having to face life in a world where some people disagree with our choices, lifestyle, or worldview. Let’s protect everyone from the kind of persecution that ruins a kind person’s business, harasses a gentle person’s family and seeks to coerce a person of integrity to do work his faith forbids him to do. Let’s not just protect females, members of the LGBTQ community, racial and religious minorities and people who want to be a gender other than the one imprinted on their DNA. Let’s protect all people. Even white, male, Christians like Jack.