Religious Liberty Takes the Cake

Although it might have been interesting to see Muslim bakers being forced to bake Mohammed cartoon cakes for Christian clients, we should all celebrate the not-even-close Supreme Court ruling establishing that Colorado bakers cannot be forced to violate their First Amendment religious liberty rights by baking a gay wedding cake:

In a 7-2 decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court said the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated the free exercise clause of the Constitution when it forced Jack Phillips to make a cake for a same-sex wedding he morally opposed under the state's public accommodations law.

"The laws and the Constitution can, and in some instances must, protect gay persons and gay couples in the exercise of their civil rights, but religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression," the majority opinion said.

“While it is unexceptional that Colorado law can protect gay persons in acquiring products and services on the same terms and conditions as are offered to other member of the public, the law must be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion.”

Creative expression in any form is free speech which, along with freedom of religion, is supposedly protected in the First Amendment. People should not be compelled to write or say things they do not believe or agree with, whether it be in the form of ink on paper or frosting on wedding cakes.

In Masterpiece Cake Shop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, in which the shop refused to make a cake for a gay couple to celebrate their same-sex marriage, lawyers representing owner Jack Phillips argued it would be an endorsement of gay marriage that would violate their religious beliefs. The Colorado courts thought otherwise:

It started over five years ago with a simple request for a wedding cake. And now, after wending its way through the system, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission is finally having its day before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Many legal experts believe it will be the most significant case of the term. It involves a clash of our rights as citizens, as well as our ideals.

Two of the most precious rights Americans possess are freedom of expression and freedom to practice their religion as they see fit. Both are enshrined in the First Amendment…

It began in July 2012, when Charlie Craig and David Mullins asked Jack Phillips, who owned the Masterpiece Cakeshop, to create a custom wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex marriage. Phillips refused, saying he didn’t wish to promote a same-sex wedding due to his religious beliefs.

Craig and Mullins filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The commission decided against Phillips, declaring he had discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation.

The commission ordered Masterpiece Cakeshop to change its policies, give its staff training on discrimination, and provide quarterly reports for two years on steps taken to comply with the order.

The Colorado Court of Appeals upheld the decision and the Colorado Supreme Court declined to hear the case. Last year, Phillips petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming the Colorado ruling violates the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment. 

In this case, as Jordan Lawrence writes in National Review, the line between providing a service and expressing a view are being deliberately blurred by liberals to destroy both free speech and religious liberty:

The government must not force creative businesses to create messages that they oppose. During the Masterpiece Cakeshop oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, the two attorneys opposing cake artist Jack Phillips argued that the justices should not protect Phillips’s freedom to abstain from creating expression he disagrees with. Their primary argument was that, in their opinion, it is too difficult to draw lines protecting people’s First Amendment right against compelled speech, so the high court should not protect Jack’s rights…

David Cole of the American Civil Liberties Union argued that the Supreme Court should conclude that anything Phillips would create under some circumstances, he must create in all contexts…

(But) a cake artist who agrees to design a rainbow cake for a Noah’s Ark–themed Sunday-school party should not be forced against his will to make the same cake for a same-sex wedding (like the one that the same-sex couple who visited Masterpiece Cakeshop eventually got for their wedding reception). Neither should a cake artist who would craft an elephant-shaped cake for a party at the zoo be forced to create the same cake for a Republican-party celebration. Nor should a cake artist who is willing to design a cake saying “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” for a Christmas party be required to make that cake for a party hosted by Aryan Nations.

The Masterpiece Cakeshop case is different than saying a hotel or restaurant cannot refuse service to people based on their sexual orientation. Baking a wedding cake is a creative process and you cannot force a baker to create something that violates his religious beliefs anymore than you can force a writer to put on paper opinions he or she vehemently disagrees with,

That gay marriage is a looming threat to religious liberty as observed here, and may lead to an era of religious persecution not seen in since the days of the Roman Empire, are seen in the chilling redefinition of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty by Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Democrat of Wisconsin, and the Senate’s only lesbian.

Baldwin made her remarks on the June 27, 2015 broadcast of Up With Steve Kornacki on MSNBC. In a transcript of her remarks posted on Newsbusters, Baldwin ignored the fact that it was religious persecution in Europe that led to people fleeing here seeking religious freedom on an individual as well as institutional level:

Certainly the first amendment says that in institutions of faith that there is absolute power to, you know, to observe deeply held religious beliefs. But I don’t think it extends far beyond that. We’ve seen the set of arguments play out in issues such as access to contraception. Should it be the individual pharmacist whose religious beliefs guides whether a prescription is filled, or in this context, they’re talking about expanding this far beyond our churches and synagogues to businesses and individuals across this country. I think there are clear limits that have been set in other contexts and we ought to abide by those in this new context across America.”

Baldwin, in arguing that there is no individual right to religious liberty and expression, misreads the Constitution with its mandate stating Congress shall pass no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion. It is a key phrase in the First Amendment, leading off the Bill of Rights. These are individual rights fought for in the American revolution. These rights are not limited to institutions but apply to all individuals, just as the Supreme Court has decided the Second Amendment applies to individuals and not just to state-ordained militias.  

Baldwin had been asked the question, “Should the bakery have to bake the cake for the gay couple getting married? Where do you come down on that?” She came down on the side of government coercion and the proposition that church is something you do on Sunday for an hour and otherwise shouldn’t act on your religious beliefs in your daily life.

In Iran, gay wedding cake and pizza requests are handled a bit more harshly and with more finality than a simple statement from a business owner that his or her faith won’t allow them to cater the affair. If two gays contemplating marriage had walked into a Tehran pizza shop like Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Indiana, the pizza shop that refused to cater a gay wedding, hanging in the public square and not a simple refusal would have been a likely outcome.

The Hobby Lobby case also revolved around the belief of the owners that people should be free to act on their faith in their daily lives which includes their business life. It is a belief shared by many, including the Founding Fathers.

So do scores of Catholic and non-Catholic institutions and businesses who argue either that the way they run their private businesses is an extension of their faith or that a church, something the federal government seeks to redefine, is not something that happens one hour a week on a Sunday but 24/7 through the hospitals, schools, soup kitchens and charities they may operate. They argue that acting out their faith through their works should not be illegal.

To gay advocates, acting on your sincerely held religious beliefs is bigotry. They ask that their lifestyles be respected as well as their newly discovered right to marriage, found in the “penumbras and emanations” of the Constitution that also gave us the right to abortion. Neither abortion nor marriage is mentioned specifically in the Constitution, but religious liberty and those who saying acting on your faith is bigotry are physicians sorely in need of healing themselves.

Liberals’ definition of religious liberty is not that much different than Lenin’s and Stalin’s. Investor’s Business Daily once quoted Cardinal George regarding ObamaCare and its imposition of the contraceptive mandate on religious institutions:

"Freedom of worship was guaranteed in the Constitution of the former Soviet Union," Chicago's Francis Cardinal George recently wrote.

"You could go to church, if you could find one. The church, however, could do nothing except conduct religious rites in places of worship -- no schools, religious publications, health care institutions, organized charity, ministry for justice and works of mercy that flow naturally from a living faith. We fought a long Cold War to defeat that vision of society."

One wonders what would happen, or should happen in Sen. Baldwin’s view, if a gay couple walked into a bakery owned by African-Americans and asked for a Confederate flag on their wedding cake. The irony here is that those who profess to be the most tolerance exhibit the most intolerance. If you demand tolerance of your lifestyle, you should exhibit tolerance of other people’s religious beliefs. Otherwise it is you who are the hypocrite and the bigot. 

Justice Anthony Kennedy may have tipped his hand early in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, noting in comments during oral arguments:

Did Anthony Kennedy tip his hand during oral arguments in a key religious liberty/free speech case today? All eyes were fixed on the perennial swing Supreme Court jurist as attorneys argued in Masterpiece Cakeshop v Colorado Civil Rights Commission, and conservatives had to like Kennedy’s brushback to Colorado’s lawyers early in the hearing. According to the Wall Street Journal’s live blog, Kennedy wanted to know how the state tried to accommodate the baker’s rights to speech and religious expression, and he expressed his dissatisfaction with the response:

Justice Anthony Kennedy told a lawyer for the state that tolerance is essential in a free society, but it’s important for tolerance to work in both directions. “It seems to me the state has been neither tolerant or respectful” of the baker’s views, he said.

Well said. Indeed, the road to oppression and the end of liberty is paved with political correctness. Tolerance should be a two-way street.

Daniel John Sobieski is a free lance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.               

Although it might have been interesting to see Muslim bakers being forced to bake Mohammed cartoon cakes for Christian clients, we should all celebrate the not-even-close Supreme Court ruling establishing that Colorado bakers cannot be forced to violate their First Amendment religious liberty rights by baking a gay wedding cake:

In a 7-2 decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court said the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated the free exercise clause of the Constitution when it forced Jack Phillips to make a cake for a same-sex wedding he morally opposed under the state's public accommodations law.

"The laws and the Constitution can, and in some instances must, protect gay persons and gay couples in the exercise of their civil rights, but religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression," the majority opinion said.

“While it is unexceptional that Colorado law can protect gay persons in acquiring products and services on the same terms and conditions as are offered to other member of the public, the law must be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion.”

Creative expression in any form is free speech which, along with freedom of religion, is supposedly protected in the First Amendment. People should not be compelled to write or say things they do not believe or agree with, whether it be in the form of ink on paper or frosting on wedding cakes.

In Masterpiece Cake Shop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, in which the shop refused to make a cake for a gay couple to celebrate their same-sex marriage, lawyers representing owner Jack Phillips argued it would be an endorsement of gay marriage that would violate their religious beliefs. The Colorado courts thought otherwise:

It started over five years ago with a simple request for a wedding cake. And now, after wending its way through the system, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission is finally having its day before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Many legal experts believe it will be the most significant case of the term. It involves a clash of our rights as citizens, as well as our ideals.

Two of the most precious rights Americans possess are freedom of expression and freedom to practice their religion as they see fit. Both are enshrined in the First Amendment…

It began in July 2012, when Charlie Craig and David Mullins asked Jack Phillips, who owned the Masterpiece Cakeshop, to create a custom wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex marriage. Phillips refused, saying he didn’t wish to promote a same-sex wedding due to his religious beliefs.

Craig and Mullins filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The commission decided against Phillips, declaring he had discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation.

The commission ordered Masterpiece Cakeshop to change its policies, give its staff training on discrimination, and provide quarterly reports for two years on steps taken to comply with the order.

The Colorado Court of Appeals upheld the decision and the Colorado Supreme Court declined to hear the case. Last year, Phillips petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming the Colorado ruling violates the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment. 

In this case, as Jordan Lawrence writes in National Review, the line between providing a service and expressing a view are being deliberately blurred by liberals to destroy both free speech and religious liberty:

The government must not force creative businesses to create messages that they oppose. During the Masterpiece Cakeshop oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, the two attorneys opposing cake artist Jack Phillips argued that the justices should not protect Phillips’s freedom to abstain from creating expression he disagrees with. Their primary argument was that, in their opinion, it is too difficult to draw lines protecting people’s First Amendment right against compelled speech, so the high court should not protect Jack’s rights…

David Cole of the American Civil Liberties Union argued that the Supreme Court should conclude that anything Phillips would create under some circumstances, he must create in all contexts…

(But) a cake artist who agrees to design a rainbow cake for a Noah’s Ark–themed Sunday-school party should not be forced against his will to make the same cake for a same-sex wedding (like the one that the same-sex couple who visited Masterpiece Cakeshop eventually got for their wedding reception). Neither should a cake artist who would craft an elephant-shaped cake for a party at the zoo be forced to create the same cake for a Republican-party celebration. Nor should a cake artist who is willing to design a cake saying “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” for a Christmas party be required to make that cake for a party hosted by Aryan Nations.

The Masterpiece Cakeshop case is different than saying a hotel or restaurant cannot refuse service to people based on their sexual orientation. Baking a wedding cake is a creative process and you cannot force a baker to create something that violates his religious beliefs anymore than you can force a writer to put on paper opinions he or she vehemently disagrees with,

That gay marriage is a looming threat to religious liberty as observed here, and may lead to an era of religious persecution not seen in since the days of the Roman Empire, are seen in the chilling redefinition of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty by Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Democrat of Wisconsin, and the Senate’s only lesbian.

Baldwin made her remarks on the June 27, 2015 broadcast of Up With Steve Kornacki on MSNBC. In a transcript of her remarks posted on Newsbusters, Baldwin ignored the fact that it was religious persecution in Europe that led to people fleeing here seeking religious freedom on an individual as well as institutional level:

Certainly the first amendment says that in institutions of faith that there is absolute power to, you know, to observe deeply held religious beliefs. But I don’t think it extends far beyond that. We’ve seen the set of arguments play out in issues such as access to contraception. Should it be the individual pharmacist whose religious beliefs guides whether a prescription is filled, or in this context, they’re talking about expanding this far beyond our churches and synagogues to businesses and individuals across this country. I think there are clear limits that have been set in other contexts and we ought to abide by those in this new context across America.”

Baldwin, in arguing that there is no individual right to religious liberty and expression, misreads the Constitution with its mandate stating Congress shall pass no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion. It is a key phrase in the First Amendment, leading off the Bill of Rights. These are individual rights fought for in the American revolution. These rights are not limited to institutions but apply to all individuals, just as the Supreme Court has decided the Second Amendment applies to individuals and not just to state-ordained militias.  

Baldwin had been asked the question, “Should the bakery have to bake the cake for the gay couple getting married? Where do you come down on that?” She came down on the side of government coercion and the proposition that church is something you do on Sunday for an hour and otherwise shouldn’t act on your religious beliefs in your daily life.

In Iran, gay wedding cake and pizza requests are handled a bit more harshly and with more finality than a simple statement from a business owner that his or her faith won’t allow them to cater the affair. If two gays contemplating marriage had walked into a Tehran pizza shop like Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Indiana, the pizza shop that refused to cater a gay wedding, hanging in the public square and not a simple refusal would have been a likely outcome.

The Hobby Lobby case also revolved around the belief of the owners that people should be free to act on their faith in their daily lives which includes their business life. It is a belief shared by many, including the Founding Fathers.

So do scores of Catholic and non-Catholic institutions and businesses who argue either that the way they run their private businesses is an extension of their faith or that a church, something the federal government seeks to redefine, is not something that happens one hour a week on a Sunday but 24/7 through the hospitals, schools, soup kitchens and charities they may operate. They argue that acting out their faith through their works should not be illegal.

To gay advocates, acting on your sincerely held religious beliefs is bigotry. They ask that their lifestyles be respected as well as their newly discovered right to marriage, found in the “penumbras and emanations” of the Constitution that also gave us the right to abortion. Neither abortion nor marriage is mentioned specifically in the Constitution, but religious liberty and those who saying acting on your faith is bigotry are physicians sorely in need of healing themselves.

Liberals’ definition of religious liberty is not that much different than Lenin’s and Stalin’s. Investor’s Business Daily once quoted Cardinal George regarding ObamaCare and its imposition of the contraceptive mandate on religious institutions:

"Freedom of worship was guaranteed in the Constitution of the former Soviet Union," Chicago's Francis Cardinal George recently wrote.

"You could go to church, if you could find one. The church, however, could do nothing except conduct religious rites in places of worship -- no schools, religious publications, health care institutions, organized charity, ministry for justice and works of mercy that flow naturally from a living faith. We fought a long Cold War to defeat that vision of society."

One wonders what would happen, or should happen in Sen. Baldwin’s view, if a gay couple walked into a bakery owned by African-Americans and asked for a Confederate flag on their wedding cake. The irony here is that those who profess to be the most tolerance exhibit the most intolerance. If you demand tolerance of your lifestyle, you should exhibit tolerance of other people’s religious beliefs. Otherwise it is you who are the hypocrite and the bigot. 

Justice Anthony Kennedy may have tipped his hand early in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, noting in comments during oral arguments:

Did Anthony Kennedy tip his hand during oral arguments in a key religious liberty/free speech case today? All eyes were fixed on the perennial swing Supreme Court jurist as attorneys argued in Masterpiece Cakeshop v Colorado Civil Rights Commission, and conservatives had to like Kennedy’s brushback to Colorado’s lawyers early in the hearing. According to the Wall Street Journal’s live blog, Kennedy wanted to know how the state tried to accommodate the baker’s rights to speech and religious expression, and he expressed his dissatisfaction with the response:

Justice Anthony Kennedy told a lawyer for the state that tolerance is essential in a free society, but it’s important for tolerance to work in both directions. “It seems to me the state has been neither tolerant or respectful” of the baker’s views, he said.

Well said. Indeed, the road to oppression and the end of liberty is paved with political correctness. Tolerance should be a two-way street.

Daniel John Sobieski is a free lance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.