There has not been a day since 2012 when Jack Phillips, the Christian baker and owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, has not been the subject of legal proceedings designed to force him to compromise his deeply held beliefs by using his artistic talents to create a custom-designed cake that celebrates a message he objects to.
Despite winning a U.S. Supreme Court victory in 2018 vindicating his First Amendment freedom of religion against a hostile Colorado Civil Rights Commission, activists on the left won’t leave him alone. On the very day the high court announced it would hear Jack’s case, a transgender activist lawyer in Denver called Jack’s shop to order a custom cake celebrating his transition from male to female, hoping Jack would say “no” based on his religious beliefs.
When Jack declined, the lawyer promptly filed a complaint against Jack with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the same group the justices of the Supreme Court later chastised for comparing Jack’s Christian beliefs to slaveowners and Nazis. Masterpiece II, as the state’s case was dubbed, was later dropped by the Commission in a settlement after Jack countersued the Commission for harassing him.
Masterpiece III, which now features a civil lawsuit by the same Denver lawyer who filed the transgender discrimination complaint, resulted in a loss for Jack after a trial that occurred in March 2021.
Jack, through his attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), has notified the Colorado Court of Appeals that he is appealing the decision of the trial judge.
There are many issues that Jack is raising on appeal, but the most important one is whether the lower court decision – and the Colorado nondiscrimination law on which it is based – violates Jack’s constitutional right not to be forced to promote a message with which he disagrees.
“No one should be forced to express a message that violates their beliefs and conscience,” ADF Legal Counsel Jake Warner said in a press release announcing the appeal. “Activists and government officials are targeting artists like Jack because they can’t promote messages on marriage and gender that violate their core beliefs. In this case, an activist attorney demanded that Jack Phillips create custom cakes in order to test Jack and to ‘correct the errors’ of his thinking, and the attorney even threatened to sue Jack again if the case is dismissed for any reason.
“This case and others like it represent a disturbing trend: Activists are weaponizing the legal system to ruin those who simply disagree with them. Someone you disagree with might be the one targeted today, but when political winds shift, it could just as easily be you or anyone else tomorrow.”
Jack Phillips takes it all in stride. Despite these lawsuits that have forced him to cut back his services and staff, he holds no ill will towards the transgender lawyer or others who would like to see him either bend the knee to the demands of a hostile government and culture, or go out of business.
In his recent book, The Cost of My Faith – How a Decision in My Cake Shop Took Me to the Supreme Court, Jack explains how God has moved through the adversity he’s faced.
“In their eagerness to punish my speech,” he writes, “my opponents have actually given me a microphone – even a megaphone – and for all the pain and loss my family has experienced, we are eternally grateful for the opportunities this has given us to grow closer to our Lord and to speak His truth before so many whom we might otherwise never have met.”
Jack was recently interviewed by Focus on the Family President Jim Daly for a radio broadcast tentatively scheduled to air on Christian stations across the country on August 23. You can also listen to that interview at www.focusonthefamily.com.
Photo from ADF.