October 18, 2017
The devil is officially in the details of Jack Phillips's case. When a customer emailed the baker about making a Lucifer cake, the man at the center of America's biggest religious liberty case found out just how significant his trial may be. Phillips, who became a national name when he turned down a same-sex wedding order, is two months away from arguing his case before the highest court in the land -- and when he does, he'll have this latest incident to help make his point.
An email he got on September 30 helps to put the entire controversy in perspective, many people believe, since it has much broader ramifications than the same-sex marriage debate. "I would like to get a quote on a birthday cake, for a special event," a person emailed the bakery. "It is a cake that is religious in theme, and since religion is a protected class, I am hoping that you will gladly bake this cake. As you see, the birthday cake in question is to celebrate the birthday of Lucifer or as they [sic] are also known Satan, who was born as Satan when he was cast from heaven by God." The customer goes on to ask for decorations that include an upside-down cross and the head of Lucifer. (Devil's food cake, anyone?)
The request is so bizarre that it's almost funny -- but it does make a very important point about free speech and artistic expression. As Jack's attorney, Alliance Defending Freedom's (ADF) Jeremy Tedesco, explains, "If we're going to live in a world where these kinds of laws can be used to force people like Jack Phillips to create cakes that violate his beliefs about marriage, we're also going to have to live in a world where people can be forced to create cakes celebrating Satan." Obviously, what's at stake on December 5 goes well beyond the marriage debate. This is about policing people's beliefs. It's about the fundamental right of every person to have and express an opinion.
If the government can decide what you can and can't believe about sexuality, it's only a matter of time before that same ideological intolerance spills into debates over guns, the environment, or even the economy. "It's very easy to get caught up," Tedesco warns, "...in the idea that the case is just about a Christian cake artist who doesn't want to create cakes supporting same-sex marriages -- but the issue is much broader than that. If the government has the power to force Jack to create cakes and engage in artistic expression that violates his beliefs, it has that power over all of us. That's why you can be for same-sex marriage, but you can also be for, and should be for, Jack Phillips to prevail in this case."
He's right. This isn't about accommodation, as liberals would have you believe. It's about forced participation. Fortunately, Americans are starting to wake up to the danger here. In a Rasmussen poll, only 29 percent agree with the radical Left that Jack should be strong-armed to making a cake that violates his faith. Let's hope the Supreme Court isn't among them.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.