The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the case of the Colorado cake baker. We learned on Monday that the U.S. Supreme Court voted 7-2 in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop. This is a big win for religious liberty because the court clearly stated that there is no room in America for hostility toward religion, particularly not the government.
The case came about because Jack Phillips, the master at the cake shop, stood for his religious beliefs. He cannot with integrity design and create custom wedding cakes for same-sex weddings. To do so would go against his deeply held beliefs. Ryan T. Anderson of The Daily Signal writes the following.
The court held that the state of Colorado was “neither tolerant nor respectful” of Phillips’ beliefs about marriage. The court pointed out that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed “clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs motivating his objection.”
But as the court also noted, “Religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression.”
Which is why the Colorado commission should have respected Phillips’ views about marriage on an equal basis as it did three bakers who declined to bake anti-gay cakes. The commission ruled that these three bakers did not violate the anti-discrimination statute when they declined to make cakes with religious messages opposing homosexuality. And yet the commission held that Phillips violated the ant-discrimination statute when he declined to create a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding.
Anderson continues his article by explaining that Phillips did not turn down the order to bake a wedding cake because he dislikes gay people. This is shown by the fact that he told them that he would make them a birthday cake or any other kind of cake except a wedding cake. He is not against gay people, but he does not believe in same-sex marriage.
There are many articles being written about this case. Most of them acknowledge that it is a win for religious freedom, but it stopped short of solving the problem. It merely “kicks the can down the road” while the nation waits for another case to be brought before the court. However, it clearly tells us that we must show respect to each other even as we disagree. In an opinion piece at the Deseret News Boyd Matheson writes the following.
It is interesting that perhaps the clearest message sent from the Supreme Court as it handed down its ruling on the Colorado cake baker case wasn’t about the law, an interpretation of the law or even the Constitution – it was about how we talk about these things with each other. Government commissions and institutions must show respect and restraint rather than contempt when discussing rights, religion and the law. The cake baker cannot be chided or derided for deeply held religious beliefs.
Likewise, the gay couple cannot and must not be treated with disrespect, prejudice or disdain for living what they believe.
Fairness for all is absolutely an achievable end.
The Supreme Court seemed to be saying that we must do better as a nation in how we discuss difficult issues. Treating each other with respect is the right place to start. It is also the only place where balancing religious liberty rights and the rights of the LGBT community can begin.