The Supreme Court heard arguments this month in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a case about whether the government can make a Christian baker design a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding.
Jack Phillips, the shop owner, sells pre-made baked goods to anyone, but he won’t create things that carry a message inconsistent with his faith. He won’t make cakes that celebrate Halloween, or that carry vulgar or indecent words. For similar reasons, he turned down a request by Charlie Craig and David Mullins to make them a custom wedding cake.
They filed a claim under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act with the state Civil Rights Commission. It had little sympathy for Phillips. One commissioner said, “It is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use … to use their religion to hurt others.”
The commission ordered Phillips, if he wanted to do weddings at all, to design cakes for same-sex couples, and to teach his staff (basically, his family) that this was the right thing to do.
The Colorado courts agreed. The Supreme Court was more troubled. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges protecting same-sex marriage, said he thought Colorado “ha(d) been neither tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips’s religious beliefs.” But Kennedy worried about the implications of ruling for Phillips. Could he then “put a sign in his window, ‘We do not bake cakes for gay weddings,'” Kennedy asked.
Perhaps. But that would be a different case. Phillips was not going out of his way to proclaim his opposition to gay weddings. He just wanted to be left alone. Colorado insisted that he join in the celebration, and write out his support for Charlie’s and David’s nuptials with an icing nozzle.
The more likely scenario, if Phillips wins, is that Colorado will make him put a sign in his window saying, “We do not bake cakes for gay weddings,” and telling gay couples where they should shop instead.
That’s what California did in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, another case pending in the court this term. California makes pro-life pregnancy centers post signs in their waiting rooms (in 22-point type) saying that the state provides free abortions, and telling women where to get them.
This is also what the Department of Health and Human Services did with its contraceptive mandate. HHS ordered the Little Sisters of the Poor, if they weren’t going to provide their employees free contraceptives, to file a form cueing their insurance company to step in.
Why this passion for making people swear their allegiance to modern sexual orthodoxies? Before we had a first amendment, the Constitution of 1789 said only two things about religion. Both were designed to prevent the government from making people subscribe to propositions they had religious scruples about.
The religious test clause in Article VI says that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” It forbids laws like the English Test Acts (aimed at Catholics and nonconformists) that required people to take Communion in the Church of England in order to hold office.
And throughout the original Constitution, any clause requiring an oath allows people with religious scruples about swearing (Quakers were the group the framers had in mind) to “affirm” their obligation instead.
Those who fought and won the American Revolution were wiser and more tolerant than the winners of the sexual revolution. They refrained from making religious outliers confess their belief in the majority’s creed. I hope the court insists on the same degree of tolerance when it comes to our new fertility rites.
Garvey is president of The Catholic University of America in Washington. Catholic University’s website is www.cua.edu.
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This would be laughable if it wasn’t so pathetic. If the Supreme Court decides in favor of the baker, this will be the quintessential slippery slope where all sorts of discrimination will be allowed under the guise of religious freedom.
I have still not heard one iota of reasoning that demonstrates how someone’s practice of their religion, their living of their life would be hurt by making a cake for a gay wedding. It’s ludicrous and sad that so called devout people would be allowed to foment hatred towards others.
In high school I had a girl tell me most sincerely that was it against her Christian faith to date outside of her race!
So what is to stop a business owner from excluding all sorts of people from patronizing their store under the utter BS of religious freedom?
Selling someone a cake in no way, shape, form or in any impinges upon your ability to live your life. But refusing to do so opens the floodgates for myriad discrimination.
What’s next: you can’t eat in my restaurant because you are gay? You can’t sleep in my hotel because I don’t want my room sullied by your gayness?
See my point! It’s absolutely ridiculous. Are we living in 2017 or 1417? It sure seems we’re going backwards.
Mr. Garvey: Shame on you! A university president should know better.
Phillips had several non family members as employees but had to lay them off when he stopped selling wedding cakes. It has not been reported if his non family employees were as strongly opposed to gay marriage as Phillips. If they were not, then a simple solution would have been for Phillips to let one of those employees make the cake.
If Phillips wins it will not be that “Colorado will make him put a sign in his window saying, “We do not bake cakes for gay weddings.” It will be the Supreme Court giving him permission to do so.
The title you chose for President Garvey’s remarks seems inconsistent with his message.