The Bottom Line Is That Jack Phillips Won

There was a push back against governmental hostility toward religion. That's very good news.

Baker Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, accepting congratulations and thanks in his Lakewood shop after the U.S. Supreme Court voted 7-2 in his favor.

By Michael Brown Published on June 5, 2018

There’s a lot of discussion about Monday’s Supreme Court decision which pitted religious freedoms against LGBT rights. Was the ruling really that significant? Since it was so narrow in scope, should Christian conservatives really rejoice? Did the justices merely kick the can down the road? (For my own take, see here and here.)

Scores of articles have already been written on this, which means that it’s easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees. The bottom line is that Jack Phillips won. His religious freedoms were upheld. There was a push back against governmental hostility toward religion. All that is very good news.

What If Phillips Had Lost?

To put this in perspective, what if the Supreme Court had ruled against Phillips? What if the justices said that the state was within its rights to punish him for declining to design a same-sex “wedding” cake? What if there was no pushback against Colorado’s overt and explicit hostility towards Phillip’s Christian beliefs? What then?

What would headlines have looked like on Monday from the Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented Phillips? Or from the FRC, or from a host of other conservative Christian organizations? What would people like me have written, and what would you, the readers, have been thinking?

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We would have been outraged. We would have taken this as a slap in our faces and a mockery of our faith. We would have shouted, “What about the First Amendment?!” We would have been up in arms.

LGBT Outlets Outraged

And look at the headlines on liberal websites, or, more specifically, LGBT websites. How was this decision reported?

The Advocate, a flagship LGBT publication, ran this headline: “Homophobes Gorsuch, Thomas Wanted the Cake Shop Decision to Go Further.”

And the article, by Trudy Ring, stated,

The high court’s decision, issued today, was tailored narrowly, applying only to this case, but it sets the scene for more court clashes over the right to turn away LGBT customers and, whether or not the high court intended, gives some ammunition to those who would argue for this right. And some conservative justices thought the ruling did not go far enough.

The LGBTQ Nation website reported that, “Today’s ruling chips away at one of America’s most basic values for the last 50 years – the freedom to expect that a business will serve all customers without discrimination.”

The article also cited Democratic leaders who were unhappy with the ruling.

In the end, this was about Jack Phillips, who took a stand where many others would have caved in. And he took that stand with grace and courage.

An article on Queerty stated bluntly, “The Supreme Court has ruled 7-2 in favor of Jack Phillips, the antigay baker from Colorado who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, and American bigots couldn’t be happier.”

Again I ask: How would we have reacted had the shoe been on the other foot? What would be writing and saying today had the ruling gone against Jack?

“Religious Liberty Has Lived to Fight Another Day”

Contrast the Advocate headline, which vilified Justices Gorsuch and Thomas, with this headline on The Stream: “We Must Clone Clarence Thomas: The Lesson of SCOTUS’ Wedding Cake Decision.”

According to John Zmirak, the author of The Stream article, “The hatred today’s left feels toward orthodox Christianity is fanatical. Remember how Inspector Javert, in Les Misérables, sought pretext after pretext for imprisoning Jean Valjean? So the left will keep hunting Christians. Justice Kennedy has just told them the opening and closing days for hunting season.”

And Zmirak notes that Thomas was acutely aware of these dangers, writing in his concurring opinion,

In Obergefell, I warned that the Court’s decision would “inevitabl[y] … come into conflict” with religious liberty, “as individuals … are confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples.” … This case proves that the conflict has already emerged. Because the Court’s decision vindicates Phillips’ right to free exercise, it seems that religious liberty has lived to fight another day. But, in future cases, the freedom of speech could be essential to preventing Obergefell from being used to “stamp out every vestige of dissent” and “vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.” If that freedom is to maintain its vitality, reasoning like the Colorado Court of Appeals’ must be rejected.

I couldn’t have said it better.

Because He Won, We Won

The bad news is that the ruling wasn’t broader and that all the justices didn’t agree on the very dangers that Thomas and Gorsuch (and others in the past) warned about. How could these dangers not be seen? Even a nearsighted man without glasses could see what was coming — with any insight at all.

But the good news is that, in the end, this was about Jack Phillips, who took a stand where many others would have caved in, enduring five years of grueling litigation, with his whole life turned upside down. And he took that stand with grace and courage. Because he won, we won.

For that, I’m very thankful.

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  • Tim Pan

    Whats going to stop another homosexual couple from going into his shop tomorrow and asking him to bake a cake for their wedding? He says no and the drama starts all over again.

    • John Connor

      Nothing. The only reason for the ruling was due to the way the commission addressed the baker. The anti discrimination law remains unchanged.

    • Ray

      I suppose that could happen, and if it does, after he explains things to them and if it’s not to their liking and they sue, then I think he should counter sue and win.

      • Tim Pan

        I think he should sue now. The court showed his 1st amendment rights were abused.

    • Andrew Mason

      I believe he ceased doing wedding cakes despite them being 40% of his business because of the LGBT threats.

      • Tim Pan

        I would assume he will reopen that part of his business.

        • John Connor

          Doubtful. Colorado’s public accommodation laws and anti discrimination laws are still intact. He can refuse but can still be held accountable for his discrimination

          • Tim Pan

            He has gone this far he may as well finish the project. If he felt compelled by his God to make this stand. Then stand!

    • sc_cannon

      Maybe he can sue them for harassment?

      • Tim Pan

        If he does not sell his cakes . They win.

  • David Hess

    Jack Phillips is a true Follower of Christ. Respect. Honor.

    • Xrucianus

      From everything I’ve heard… I respect the depth of Jesus’ love he’s attempted to show the LGBTQ couple. Unfortunately, more than most other evangelicals are showing them, and their community right now.

  • Patmos

    The reactions from LGBT supporters just confirms how selfish so many of them are. It’s all about them in their eyes.

    • Ray

      As well as their endeavor to make everyone enemies of God, by force. (see James 4:4)

  • Maltus Flavius

    If the SCOTUS had ruled against the baker, this would have been a deliberate and willful decision against the First Amendment! There would have been no excuse for such a ruling no matter the legal double-speak!

  • Ray

    A cake decorator should be able to turn down any work he decides, and everyone should be treated fairly, regardless of race, creed, or whatever. I believe Jack Phillips did that.

    • sc_cannon

      I use to see signs that said This business reserves the right to refuse service to anyone

  • Paul

    Did he win? How’s his business doing?

  • Ray

    The nature of discrimination is that it usually is very difficult to prove, and that is the way it should be. It’s simply because of the nature of the thing. Some people want a simple rule they could obviously see the violation of, and use, but that will not do, when it comes to deciding discrimination, which is why we have judges, and often they will be involved in some rather difficult decisions. This one was easy. This was a good day for America, for the most part.

  • “There was a push back against governmental hostility toward religion.”

    Exactly. Which is why he won. There was clear animus on the part of two of the Commissioners. Had they not been involved, he would have lost.

    This will now be used as precedent in cases of clear animus against GLBTI people, and other groups, when enforcing existing state laws. An otherwise valid decision will be nullified if those involved in making it show malice.

  • LgVt

    Mr. Brown, I wish I could be as optimistic as you. I am relieved that Phillips won his case, because the alternative would have been a disaster. But that is the only positive that can be taken from this ruling. Philips won, not on the merits of his case, but on the conduct of his persecutors. Not only was that the only reason the Court got to 7-2, it’s the only reason the Court got to 5-4. If they hadn’t been so blatant, Phillips would have lost. Barring a change in the Court’s membership, the next Phillips will lose.

    Nor do I take any comfort in the outcry of the LGBT outlets. LGBT activists are snowflakes. They are throwing a kicking and screaming tantrum because they didn’t get everything they wanted, right this very minute.

    Their tantrums do not change the reality that eventually–and, in all likelihood, in the very near future–they will get everything they want.

  • Virginia Mom

    I cannot understand how any American can justify demanding that a fellow American provide an explanation when a service by a private enterprise is denied. I cannot understand why any American feels that he or she must provide an explanation. Since all of the cases going before the courts arose under these circumstances (in every case, a photographer, videographer, florist or baker explained his or her reasons), we can’t get past the religious question. What the case should have been about was this alone: Should the petitioners who are asking the government to compel speech be granted their wish? Under the First Amendment “Congress shall make no law” restricting free speech, which means government cannot compel speech either. Kennedy needs to go. Then we’ll possible get a SCOTUS that will respect the Bill of Rights.

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