Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips has been fighting government hostility toward his religious beliefs for more than six years, standing for his freedom to live and work peacefully according to this beliefs.
He is not standing alone.
That was clear in December, when supporters gathered outside the Supreme Court the day it heard arguments in Jack’s case – chanting “Justice for Jack.” That was clear in June, when supporters gathered outside Masterpiece Cakeshop to celebrate Jack’s Supreme Court victory – chanting “Jack is Back.”
And it is clear today, as U.S. Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-CO) sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, calling on him to investigate the Colorado government’s continued targeting of Jack:
Freedom of religion and the ability to express one’s religious beliefs have been a core American principle since our nation’s founding. All Americans have the First Amendment right to speak and peacefully live consistently with their religious convictions. However, these liberties are under assault. As [Attorney General Sessions] previously stated, “A dangerous movement, undetected by many, is now challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom. There can be no doubt. This is no little matter. It must be confronted and defeated.” And nowhere is the assault on religious freedom more pervasive then at the Colorado Civil Rights Commission through their selective application of the law, using it to target viewpoints that contradict their own personal beliefs.
The Colorado government has been targeting Jack since 2012, when he politely declined to create a custom cake for a same-sex wedding while offering to design the customers a cake for another occasion or sell them anything else in his shop. Jack responded this way because even though he gladly serves all people, he cannot express every message or celebrate every event.
But that has never been enough for the Colorado government. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled against Jack – resulting in a six-year legal battle, the loss of 40 percent of his business and half of his employees, and the repression of his artistic and religious freedom.
Thankfully, the Supreme Court set this right. In a 7-to-2 decision, the Court ruled that Colorado had shown “impermissible hostility” toward Jack’s religious beliefs.
It should have stopped there. But it didn’t.
Now, the Colorado Civil Rights Division has issued a probable-cause determination, declaring that Jack violated state law when he declined to create a blue-and-pink cake celebrating a gender transition – a cake with a message that he has never made for anyone.
Colorado’s message is loud and clear: It is not seeking equal treatment of all customers, but special treatment for customers that request certain messages. And not even a rebuke from the Supreme Court will stop it.
But government hostility toward people of faith has no place in our society.
That’s why Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit against Colorado state officials on Jack’s behalf. It’s why Congressman Lamborn has asked the DOJ to step in. And it’s why we all must stand with Jack to say: Enough is enough.