The Cake and the Court: Ed Stetzer On What Christians Should Do No Matter the Case’s Outcome

People sleep outside of the Supreme Court in order to save places in line for Dec. 5 arguments in ‘Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission,’ Monday, Dec. 4, 2017, outside of the Supreme Court in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
People sleep outside of the Supreme Court in order to save places in line for Dec. 5 arguments in ‘Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission,’ Monday, Dec. 4, 2017, outside of the Supreme Court in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Religious liberty and civil rights are key issues of our day.

by Ed Stetzer

Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard arguments for Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The case, as you may have heard, involves Colorado baker Jack Phillips, who in 2012 refused to make a cake for the same-sex wedding of David Mullins and Charlie Craig. Phillips defended his refusal as resulting from his Christian faith.

The case not only brings to the foreground issues of religious liberty, but also whether First Amendment protections extend to cases where those involved believe their participation denotes endorsement of their clients. Phillips’ lawyers argue that because cakes are an artistic expression, creating those cakes is his ‘speech’, and thus, he should not be compelled to support something with which he disagrees.

Just as Phillips has refused to create Halloween cakes, sexually explicit cakes, and cakes that disparage the LGBT community on the basis of his faith, the baker’s lawyers contend that his refusal is not discriminatory against a specific community, but rather informed by a consistent religious belief.

Conversely, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and other civil rights organizations, including the ACLU, have come to the defense of the couple, arguing that the First Amendment does not give individuals a constitutional right to discriminate.

In the buildup to opening arguments, the internet flooded with opinion pieces from every ideological and religious community. Yet no matter how simplistically anyone tries to portray the case or how loudly they castigate those who disagree, this is a difficult judicial problem and it is not clear where the court will come down.

In a democracy comprised of significant religious, political, and cultural diversity, there will always be tension when rights seemingly come into conflict.

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SOURCE: Christianity Today: “The Exchange”

Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, is executive director of the Billy Graham Center, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group.