Long before he came to national attention, Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips was a down-to-earth man living out the American dream.
Jack found his life’s passion early on. At a young age, he began scrimping and saving every penny to one day open a cake shop all his own. All Jack has ever wanted to do was use his talents as a painter and sculptor to create artistic cakes, and he worked almost two decades to make Masterpiece Cakeshop a reality.
Jack grew into the sort of person we all hope to be: marrying the love of his life, raising a family, and quietly becoming a pillar in his community. Among Jack’s friends are homeless men and women who frequent Masterpiece Cakeshop for a cup of hot coffee, a bite to eat, and the warmth of friendship—all compliments of the house.
When Jack’s friends needed to borrow a car a couple of years back, he loaned out the best vehicle he had, choosing to drive a clunker for a few days when a little less selflessness would’ve done just fine. It’s just who Jack is: a good neighbor right down to the bone.
Same Cast, Similar Plot
In so many ways, Phillips personifies the American dream. Just about the only people who can’t seem to recognize that are government officials employed by the state of Colorado.
Earlier this summer, the U.S. Supreme Court chastised the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, in a 7-2 decision, for its hostility toward Jack’s religious beliefs and for treating him worse than they did other cake artists. But the state is running Jack through the wringer for a second time. Once again, Jack, though his Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys, has been forced to defend the very Christian principles that have made him who he is.
If this were a Hollywood sequel, it would be more like “Jaws IV: The Revenge” than “The Godfather Part II.” And the sequel only gets worse as the plot emerges. The latest charge comes courtesy of a lawyer who called Jack’s shop multiple times on the very day the Supreme Court agreed to hear Jack’s case in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
As word got out that Jack serves everybody but won’t create a custom cake that expresses a message or celebrates an event that violates his beliefs, the lawyer called Masterpiece requesting a custom cake, blue on the outside and pink on the inside, to celebrate a gender transition. Just like in 2012, when two gentlemen asked Jack to design a custom cake for their same-sex wedding, his shop politely declined the request but offered to sell the caller anything else in the shop or to design a cake for a different occasion.
Outlandish as it may seem, that “incident” was enough for the state to find probable cause that Jack was out of compliance with state law. If the commission has its way, Jack would be forced not only to begin designing cakes celebrating gender transitions, but also might be ordered to file quarterly “compliance” reports telling the state which custom cake requests he declines and why.
This Shouldn’t Happen In America
But this is America. We don’t allow the government to bully people just because it dislikes their religious beliefs. Quiet, faithful folks like Jack should be free to live out their dreams and follow their consciences without fear of government hostility.
The state’s decision to target Jack again underscores just how little it respects his right to freely live out his faith. In round one at the Supreme Court, the state wrote in a brief stating Jack had the freedom to decline to create a cake with a message that he wouldn’t communicate for anyone. The only way he’d violate the law, the state argued, was if Jack declined to make a cake expressing a particular message for one customer even though he would create that cake for another customer.
That was then, and this is now. The state is now moving the goalposts. In its current targeting of Jack, the state is opening the door to force him to make virtually any cake a customer demands. At the end of the day, the only constant seems to be that you can’t be Jack Phillips and hope to freely live out your faith in the state of Colorado.
It’s time for the state to stop production on dismal sequel and let Jack get back to living out the American dream.