McClaughry: Thoughts on the Colorado cake case

By John McClaughry

Last week the U.S. Supreme Court gave a partial victory to Colorado baker Jack Phillips, who had declined to make an artistic cake for a gay wedding based on his strongly held Christian beliefs. Apparently Phillips was perfectly willing to sell cakes off the shelf, but wouldn’t employ his artistic talents to make a cake glorifying a union that he believed to anti-Christian. Instead of choosing another cake artist, the gay couple ran to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which found that Phillips had unlawfully discriminated against them.

The Supreme Court found not that Phillips had a right to refuse based on his biblical beliefs, but that the Civil Rights Commission exhibited religious bias in issuing its order, exemplified by a member who likened Phillips’ beliefs to supporting human slavery and Holocaust genocide. That left open the persecution by a commission that kept its collective mouth shut and just issued the order.

Justice Clarence Thomas, concurring, argued that Phillips had a right not to be an active participant in the gay marriage celebration. He invoked court precedents that tolerated white supremacist expression, and concluded that the court should have held that “states cannot punish protected speech because some group finds it offensive, hurtful, stigmatic, unreasonable, or undignified.”

You don’t have to share Jack Phillips’ religious views to believe that the state should just leave him alone, and the couple should engage a baker who supports their preferences, or doesn’t care either way.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Public domain

3 thoughts on “McClaughry: Thoughts on the Colorado cake case

  1. The issue is a minefield that is probably more nuanced than any of us can fathom.
    What if you are a member of a religious minority that takes the Tower of Babel story to heart, and believes races shouldn’t mix – is it ok to refuse to support an interracial marriage by denying the cake?
    What if the couple are male & female pagans – can the baker deny them as their religion is hypothetically an affront to his?
    Can the Muslim baker refuse the heterosexual Christian couple due to the fact that they have not embraced Islam, which the baker believes to be the one true faith?
    If a Mormon community were to come to Vermont (as has been proposed), would it be acceptable for them to refuse provide goods and services to those not of the faith?

    And now, in an age where political philosophy is replacing religion, shall we extend this religious exemption into a “philosophic exemption” similar to the vaccine issue?
    Can a progressive refuse to allow the NRA to rent his venue?
    Can a conservative refuse Planned Parenthood.

    I am by no means implying I have the answer, nor that Mr. McClaughry isn’t correct, only that the issue is very tangled, that we all need to be willing to place ourselves into the “victim’s” shoes, and that there probably isn’t a perfect answer… only a choice of which is less flawed than the other.

    • The answer to the four questions in paragraph one is ‘yes’; theology wins out. But for the rest, mere philosophy does not.

  2. This Gay Couple got their five minutes of fame, Isn’t that special !!

    They could have gone to a Bakery that would support there perverted
    way of life, but no they want to make a point because of this baker’s
    religious beliefs and followings.

    The Baker has his rights also and these two just wanted to push their
    beliefs on him and he didn’t bend, good for him !!

    Even though the SCOTUS voted (7-2) they failed at there job, they could
    have nipped this with this ruling…….but they took the easy way out !!

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