Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Moral Conscience and the Colorado Cake Case

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Fort Street Presbyterian Church, Detroit
Pray for the important case that comes before the Supreme Court today. It involves Masterpiece Cake Shop, in Lakeland, Colorado. Jack Phillips is the owner.

"In July 2012, two men came into Jack’s cakeshop requesting a wedding cake for their same-sex ceremony. In an exchange lasting only a few seconds, Jack declined the request, saying he could not design cakes for same-sex wedding ceremonies. Jack offered to make the couple any other type of baked good or sell them a pre-made cake, but, because of his faith, he could not design a cake promoting a same-sex wedding ceremony.
Infuriated, the two men stormed out of the store. Shortly after, Jack started to receive phone calls from people threatening and harassing him because of his decision to not use his artistic talents to design a cake celebrating the couple’s same-sex marriage." ("Masterpiece Cake Shop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission")

Is that "discrimination?" That's what the case is about.

In today's New York Times Ria Mar thinks Jack discriminated against a gay couple. ("The Colorado Cake Case Is Easy as Pie") She writes:

"Mr. Phillips is free to express his dissent from Colorado's equal-service rule, as he does... But when he opens a business that holds itself out as open to the public, he can't use those beliefs to discriminate in violation of state law."

But Jack did not discriminate against people. He could not violate his moral conscience. (Note the importance of words, and the battle for their meanings.)

In yesterday's New York Times Robert P. George and Sherif Gergis write:

 "On Tuesday, the court will consider whether Colorado may deny Jack Phillips the right to sell custom cakes because he cannot in conscience create them for same-sex weddings... Colorado's order that he create same-sex wedding cakes (or quit making any cakes at all) would force him to create expressive products carrying a message he rejects. That's unconstitutional." ("A Baker's First Amendment Rights") 

The state of Colorado seems to understand this. "Three times the state has declined to force pro-gay bakers to provide a Christian patron with a cake they could not in conscience create given their own convictions on sexuality and marriage. Colorado was right to recognize their First Amendment right against compelled speech. It's wrong to deny Jack Phillips that same right." (George and Gergis)

I agree. I am praying today that this right is not taken away, and that certain enemies of conscience will not prevail. (See, e.g., Robert P. George, Conscience and its Enemies.)