Nearly three years ago, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Jack Phillips, the Colorado Christian baker who refused to bake a custom wedding cake for a homosexual couple, claiming that doing so would violate his religious liberty. Unfortunately, the Christian baker and religious liberty are under assault again.
The Court’s narrow 7-2 decision was hailed by Trumpists and the Fellowship of the Pharisees as a victory for religious liberty that served as confirmation about how support of Donald Trump — an immoral man they believed was chosen by God to bring morality back to America — was an answer to their prayers.
We thank God for answered prayer! Today the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker who refused to create a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage ceremony. This is a huge win for religious freedom!https://t.co/jXX6pd6xaQ
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) June 4, 2018
The apparently lopsided ruling was considered a “narrow” victory because the root issue concerning his case — freedom of religion — was left unanswered. The court’s decision wasn’t so much pro-First Amendment as it was anti-Colorado Civil Right Commission. Even the ACLU agreed with the ruling.
As I and other conservatives who refused to drink the orange Kool-Aid warned at the time, SCOTUS’s failure to protect religious liberty meant that government was still free to pass laws forcing Christians to violate their consciences in the marketplace. And these warnings proved to be true only weeks after the SCOTUS ruling when another “bake the damn cake” battle between the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and Jack Phillips’ Masterpiece Cakeshop was launched.
This new attack on the Christian baker and religious liberty began when a transgender lawyer asked Phillips to bake a custom gender transition cake — because mental illness and cutting off certain body parts is something to celebrate — pink on the inside and blue on the outside to symbolize the transformation from one gender to another.
Phillips refused based on the same religious grounds as before and, bada bing bada boom, a new discrimination case was born. In what was clearly nothing but a setup to drive the Christian baker out of business, the woman formerly known as a man filed a lawsuit in Colorado against Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop.
Earlier this week, a virtual trial was conducted by a state judge in Denver, Colorado. In opening arguments, the lawyer representing Phillips said the Christian baker’s refusal to bake the cake was about its message, not discrimination, echoing the same religious liberty argument made in the same-sex wedding cake case that went to the Supreme Court.
“The message would be that he agrees that a gender transition is something to be celebrated,” said the attorney who also noted that Phillips had objected to making cakes with other messages he opposed, including Halloween baked goods.
Many Trumpists and evangelicals are feeling a sense of optimism based on the Supreme Court ruling in the same-sex wedding cake, but they shouldn’t. After all, that ruling was essentially made irrelevant once Colorado filed new charges based on the same grounds in the transgender case.
One reason not to get too excited is the Supreme Court might not even hear the case. And even if they do, there can be no guarantee they will rule in favor of religious liberty.
In the same-sex marriage wedding case, Anthony Kennedy — the Justice who found a constitutional right to same-sex marriage — wrote for the majority and noted that the case created a “difficult situation” when it comes to how the LGBT agenda impacts religious liberty and how the issue “must await further elaboration” in the courts.
In other words, high court “victories” are rarely as they appear.
While Kennedy no longer sits on the bench, his successor, Brett Kavanaugh, is no sure thing when it comes to protecting liberty. Despite Mitch McConnell’s claims to the contrary, Trump and the Republican Senate didn’t save the courts, and Kavanaugh has become a solid ally of the leftist wing of the court and an unreliable defender of the Constitution.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court, led by Neil Gorsuch, in a 6-3 decision (Bostock v. Clayton County), ruled that an inalienable right to transgenderism existed in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act with no protections for religious liberty.
Kavanaugh and Gorsuch alone are enough reason not to put religious liberty in the hands of the tyrannical courts. But LGBT radicals have other ways to destroy it, such as the anti-religious liberty, pro-LGBT Equality Act.
Originally passed in the House in May 2019, Nancy Pelosi re-introduced the Equality Act (H.R. 5) a few weeks ago where it passed on a mostly party-line vote (three Republicans also voted to pass it). Under the Equality Act, everyone will be required to submit to the LGBT agenda, with churches and religious employers, organizations, and colleges afforded no exceptions whatsoever.
“Religion is no excuse for discrimination when it comes to sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) when explaining the intention of the legislation the first time it passed.
The bill stalled in the Senate the first time around, but with Joe Biden in the White House and Chuck Schumer running the show in the Senate, the momentum for passage is clearly on the pro-LGBT side of the issue.
For those of you ready to blame Democrats for these developments, let me remind you that the Equality Act was introduced when Republicans were still in a position to stop it but didn’t, just as I warned would happen in April 2019. Not only did they fail to at least try to stop it, House Republicans introduced a “conservative alternative” bill called the Fairness For All Act in December 2019.
The Fairness For All Act would have amended the Civil Rights Act using the same anti-religious liberty, pro-LGBT language included in the Equality Act but with additional language that allegedly protected the convictions of religious organizations, healthcare providers, and employers with 15 employees or less.
Following the Supreme Court ruling in favor of Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop nearly three years ago, my conservative friends and I warned that despite the Christian baker’s so-called victory, religious liberty was still in danger. Unfortunately, these warnings were rejected by the army of cheap grace evangelicals and Trumpists willingly goose-stepping their way down the road of compromise that leads to the abyss of tyranny.
I hate that we were right, but the fact that we were needs to serve as a wakeup call for Christian constitutional conservatives. If America continues on her current course of lukewarm spirituality and political indifference, we will find ourselves living in a country resembling the days of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Nazi Germany.
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.