Live and let live: A defense of the Christian baker

I am a Christian. I am proud to be a Christian. I make no apology for my faith. Nobody should ever apologize or be ashamed of their religion. The freedom to worship how we want, when we want and where we want is one of humanity’s greatest rights. This does not mean we should be free to do whatever we want that falls within our religion.

Some religions practice human sacrifice, yet common sense tells us that our first amendment right to freedom of religion does not permit murder. The difficulty of freedoms is deciding as a society where our rights end. Every day, we awake in a nation where religious freedom is a guarantee to every person; rights rarely come free. One citizen by the name of Jack Philips is currently fighting for his rights and deserves our support.

Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission is currently being considered by the Supreme Court. The case concerns whether businesses owners can exercise their first amendment rights of free speech and freedom of religion to refuse services to certain individuals and organizations despite public accommodation laws. The Supreme Court took oral arguments from both sides in December of 2017 and a judgment is still in waiting. This legal conflict has lasted five years. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal expenses have been paid.

In 2012, the same-sex couple David Mullins and Charlie Craig planned to be wed in Massachusetts and return to Colorado to celebrate the marriage. The couple contacted Philips wishing for him to produce a wedding cake specifically made for the marriage celebration. Philips informed the couple that while they were free to purchase products from his shop, it was against his religious beliefs as a Christian to make a cake honoring a same-sex marriage. Needless to say, the couple did not take that very well.

Mullins and Craig filed a complaint to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The complaint resulted in a lawsuit where the ruling went to the couple. Philips was court ordered not only to disregard his religious beliefs, but to also make wedding cakes for any same-sex couples that wanted one.

Philips appealed the decision and removed himself from the wedding cake business. The state’s decision was upheld by the Colorado Court of Appeals on the grounds that despite the artistic nature of making a custom cake, it is an expected part of Philips business and is not protected by the constitutional rights of freedom of speech or religion. Philips, not one to be defeated, has taken the argument to the highest court in the land and honestly, it is anyone’s guess what the Supreme Court will decide.

The Supreme Court should rule in favor of the plaintiff. This article is not about whether or not it is moral for same-sex couples to be allowed to marry. In fact, whether or not you approve of same-sex marriage is completely irrelevant to this case because the case is not about same-sex marriage. The case is about whether or not public accommodation laws take precedence over the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and religion.

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Dave Rubin, host of the political talk show The Rubin Report, has offered his opinion on this subject and it is worth considering. In collaboration with Prager University, Rubin, who is happily married to a partner of the same sex, graciously argued in favor of the plaintiff said, “If a baker won’t bake you a cake, find another baker. Don’t demand that the state tell him what to do.”

Whatever happened to live and let live? Whatever happened to peacefully co-existing with people we disagree with?

Jack Philips does not deserve to be forced by the government to violate his religious principles. Philips deserves to be able to act according to his faith. It is probably a poor business decision to reject same-sex couples as paying customers, but if that is what he wants to do then he should be left to do that in peace. It is not the object but the principle that is at stake.

If we compromise now, there might not be any religious freedom 20 years from now. If the ruling is not in favor of the plaintiff, I fear the worse for religious freedom in our country. If the Christian baker loses his case, a dangerous precedent is set. What do you think is going to happen to the preacher who refuses to preach at a gay wedding five years from now if this harmful precedent is set? This case can decide the course society will take.