Roy Exum: A Baker Stands His Ground

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Jack Phillips owns a bakery in Lakewood, Co., which is 15 minutes west of Denver. His shop, the Masterpiece Cakeshop, is a thriving business that Jack has built on Christian principles so it is understandable why he turned down a request for a same-sex wedding cake. He believes a marriage should only be between a man and a woman.

But this week the state’s Civil Rights Commission ruled unanimously that he discriminated against David Mullins and Charlie Craig, saying it was against the law to turn away customers based on their sexual orientation. The commission ordered him to change his store policies immediately and demanded that his staff attend training sessions. Further, for the next two years he must submit quarterly reports that will disclose if he has turned anyone away for any reason. 

Talk about a mess. While 19 states now allow same-sex marriages, in Colorado such a union is considered to be – bluntly speaking – also against the law. David and Charlie were actually married in Massachusetts and wanted a cake in Colorado for a reception for their friends. Jack the baker said he would happily make them a cake but a wedding cake was out of the question. It would be counter to his Christian beliefs. 

Let’s start with the First Amendment of The Bill of Rights: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

For the record Jack said he is not changing anything. He’ll quit making wedding cakes if he is forced to do that but as far as his beliefs are concerned, “my old ones are pretty adequate as far as I am concerned. I don’t plan on giving up my faith,” he told Fox News. 

Obviously there are people who are indignant. Nicholle Martin, a lawyer with a group called Alliance of Freedom, said the ruling was “Orwellian” and said people of faith are being turned into “religious refugees” by our increasingly misguided society. “Is this the society we want to live in – where people of faith are driven out of business?” she said on Fox. 

She said the quarterly reports demanded by the Civil Rights Commission are “so Jack can demonstrate that he doesn’t exercise his belief system any more – that he has divested himself of his beliefs. We consider this reporting to be aimed at ‘rehabilitating’ Jack so that he has the right thoughts. That’s offensive to everything America stands for!” 

Katina Banks, the chairwoman on the Civil Rights Commission, took this posture. “You can have your beliefs but you can’t hurt people at the same time,” she said. “Religious freedom is undoubtedly an American value, but so is the right to be treated equally under the law, free from discrimination.” 

Amanda Goad, who is a lawyer for the ACLU, explained everyone in America is free to believe whatever they please “but businesses like Masterpiece Cakeshop cannot treat customers differently than others based on who they are as people.” 

I disagree. While wishing the married couple had simply gone to another bakery, I believe that Jack’s religion trumps sexual orientation. Our nation was set up based on the Constitution and that First Amendment doesn’t come with an asterisk. In the United States there cannot be a law prohibiting the free exercise of anyone’s religion. 

Believe it or not, Jack Phillips doesn’t care. “My God is bigger than any bullies they’ve got. I don’t worry about it. I honor my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and I’ll be true to what He wants me to do. There is civil disobedience,” he admitted, “but I’m not giving up my faith. Too many people have died for this faith to give it up that easily,” he added, saying, “Obey Christ rather than worry about what man can do to you.” 

Ironically, since the Civil Rights Commission rebuked Jack, he has sold so many brownies, cookies and cakes that the Masterpiece Cakeshop has had to suspend making wedding cakes. The cash register is twirling. You see, in Colorado they like it when a man stands his ground. And there is one other thing. Jack said his 87-year-old mother helps out at the shop “and she’s told me she’s not going to be rehabilitated.” 

So there. 

royexum@aol.com

My Brother’s Keeper Program May Have Lofty Goal, But Makes Faux Pas

A federal president known for misuse of the Christian scriptures has done it again, but this time with Chattanooga city government following him into a program whose name falls from the lips of humankind’s first murderer.  The query “Am I my brother’s keeper?” is from a slab of dialogue in which Cain is defiant to his creator, who is asking the whereabouts of his missing ... (click for more)

Passing On The History Of Atrocities To Eliminate Them

I have seen and read a lot about the world in my 68 years. Out of curiosity, yesterday, I read an obituary of a local person who had served in WWII, and participated in the freeing of prisoners at a German concentration camp that I had never heard of before. My curiosity was peeked to find out how many concentration camps the Germans operated during the War, so I googled and found ... (click for more)

2 Suspects Sought In Armed Robbery At Highway 153 Long John Silver's

Police are searching for two suspects in an armed robbery that happened Friday morning. At approximately  8:10  a.m. the Chattanooga Police Department responded to 5317 Highway 153 for a robbery at the Long John Silver's.  Officers discovered that two black men, wearing hoodies and masks, entered the Long John Silver's and forced the assistant manager ... (click for more)

Pair Charged With Beating Man With Stick, Taking His Wallet

Two men are charged with beating a man with a large stick while he slept on the steps of a downtown church, then taking his wallet. Jerry Quincy Allen, 45, and James Leo Boas, 40, both of 727 E. 11th St., are charged with aggravated robbery. In the incident on Wednesday, Bradley Casehart said he and a friend were asleep at Tompkin Chapel Church on Palmetto Street. He ... (click for more)

McCallie Claims Own Mat Title with Depth

  With no champions, yet good depth, host McCallie won the 34 th annual McCallie Wrestling Invitational Tournament Saturday with 223 points followed by runner-up Union Grove (196) and third place Cleveland (186.5) in the 27-team field. In winning a record eighth team title, McCallie had runners-up in James Westbrooks (126) and Brock Herring (132), plus three thirds and ... (click for more)

Hawks Defeat Riverdale, 55-43, For Rhea Title

EVENSVILLE, Tenn. – Hamilton Heights had a chance to win the boys and girls title in the Rhea County Holiday Hoops tournament Saturday night. The Hawks delivered. The Lady Hawks came up short. Once-beaten Hamilton Heights, getting pivotal back-to-back 3-pointers by Silas Adheke and Joan Duran in the final two minutes and sterling efforts by Ezekiel Balogun and Abdulhakim ... (click for more)