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World News

USA: cake victory

The U.S. Supreme Court handed religious liberty advocates a major victory in June when the 7-2 ruling sided with a Christian baker who refused to design a wedding cake celebrating a same-sex marriage.

Religion Today

Figure Image
Jack Phillips| photo: billygraham.org

The Civil Rights group that brought the case to court was told it demonstrated hostility towards religion when it ordered Jack Phillips to design wedding cakes for same-sex couples.

‘The Civil Rights Commission’s treatment of his case has some elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs that motivated his objection,’ said the judge. ‘The Commission’s hostility was inconsistent with the First Amendment’s guarantee that our laws be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion. Jack serves all customers; he simply declines to express messages or celebrate events that violate his deeply-held beliefs,’ said Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Kristen Waggoner, who defended Phillips before the Supreme Court. ‘Tolerance and respect for good-faith differences of opinion are essential in a society like ours.’


The case began when two gay men, Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins asked Phillips to design a cake for their wedding reception. He refused based on his religious beliefs. As stated in the court’s finding of facts, Phillips’ ‘main goal in life is to be obedient to’ Jesus Christ and Christ’s ‘teachings in all aspects of his life’.

Craig and Mullins then filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, which sided with the couple and referred the matter to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The members of the Commission also sided with the couple and – during a public hearing – criticised Phillips.

During the public hearing one commissioner said: ‘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… and to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use – to use their religion to hurt others.’

Crossing a legal line

The judge said the comments crossed a legal line. ‘To describe a man’s faith this way is to disparage his religion in at least two distinct ways: by describing it as despicable, and also by characterising it as merely rhetorical, something insubstantial and even insincere. To compare Phillips’ invocation of his sincerely-held religious beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust is inappropriate for a Commission charged with the solemn responsibility of fair and neutral enforcement of Colorado’s anti-discrimination law, a law that protects discrimination on the basis of religion as well as sexual orientation.’