Jack Phillips’s (and Our) Day in Court
Today the Supreme Court hears perhaps the most important free speech and religious freedom case in our lifetime. It’s time to pray and to speak up. We’ve talked a lot on BreakPoint over the past few months about Christian cake decorator Jack Phillips. Well today, Tuesday December 5, he has his day in court. This morning, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Masterpiece Cake Shop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. And John Stonestreet and I are asking you to pray. John, in fact, is outside the Supreme Court today, where he is speaking at a rally for Jack and for our free speech and religious freedom rights. If you live near DC, you can attend the rally in person from 8 AM ET till noon. If not, please join in virtually at the Facebook page of the Alliance Defending Freedom. We’ll link you to it at BreakPoint.org. Now the facts of the case are pretty straight forward: As John has told you, Phillips is an artist who designs master cakes. His business, Masterpiece Cakeshop, is an expression of his faith. So when a same sex couple asked him to custom design a cake for their same-sex wedding, Jack declined, but he then offered them any cake or other product in the store. For the record, Jack has refused business before. Due to his religious convictions he won’t, for example, design Halloween cakes or cakes that celebrate divorce. At any rate, the couple was infuriated and hauled Jack before the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which fined him and ordered Jack and his employees to go through a “re-education” program. Jack has since given up custom wedding cakes, a decision that has cost him 40 percent of his business. Those are the facts. And I cannot overstate the importance of what’s at stake. Will Christian artists, Christian business owners, have the freedom to participate in the public square without abandoning their Christian conviction? Or will the state compel them to use their talents and livelihoods to support that which violates their faith? Given legal precedents, Sharif Girgis, writing at The Public Discourse, says that despite what you’re hearing in the media, Jack has a strong case. “For more than seventy years,” Girgis writes, “the Supreme Court has said government can’t force you to say, do, or make something that carries a message you reject.” For example, the Court has ruled that the government can’t compel Jehovah’s Witnesses to salute the flag. Girgis argues that “[f]orcing Phillips to custom-design and create same-sex wedding cakes is compelled speech: it forces him to create an expressive (artistic) product carrying a message he rejects . . . [and] it does so without serving the type of interest that our constitutional law would consider a legitimate … justification for interfering with anyone’s free speech.” So, Girgis concludes, “Colorado’s decision violates Phillips’s First Amendment rights.” Now friends, we must pray that the Supreme Court concludes the same thing. Please, today, right after you hear this broadcast or read the transcript, pray that the Court will uphold Jack’s right to free speech and to practice his faith. Pray especially for Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Kristin Waggoner, who will be making Jack’s case before the Court. And pray also for Justice Anthony Kennedy, who may very well be the swing vote. He has been a champion of LGBT rights, but he has also ruled against the government compelling speech. And if you are able, join with John at the prayer rally today by visiting ADF’s Facebook page from 8 AM to 11 AM this morning . . . or join the tweet fest on Twitter by following #JusticeForJack. And please, share Sharif Girgis’s article with people you know. We will have it for you at BreakPoint.org The stakes couldn’t be higher. Thank you for praying.