October 24, 2017
Baking cakes can be a dangerous line of work these days. It's certainly no industry for cowards, as Edie and David Delorme, Aaron and Melissa Klein, Victoria Childress, and Jack Phillips will attest. In the last few years, their families have gone from selling confections to defending their convictions in court. They've been vandalized, threatened, fined, mocked, and sued for one reason: they dared to believe the First Amendment applies to them.
Now, almost a decade into this clash between religious liberty and same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court will decide if they're right. On December 5, Masterpiece Cakes's Jack Phillips will stand before America's nine justices -- a representative of the countless Christian wedding vendors who've been persecuted for their faith. He'll ask for the same freedom our forefathers fought and even died to give him -- the freedom to live and work according to his beliefs. When he does, he'll have the support of the nation, according to polls. But just as importantly, Jack will have the support of several African Americans.
Yesterday, a group of black leaders made that quite clear in a special press conference on the steps of the Supreme Court. Tired of hearing the LGBT community compare its experience to the real suffering of the civil rights movement, church and civic leaders decided to speak out about why Jack's case matters. FRC's Dean Nelson and FRC Action's Patrina Mosley spoke, sharing deeply personal stories about the pain and prejudice their families experienced over the color of their skin. Patrina talked about how insulting it is to hear LGBT activists equate their "persecution" to generations of African Americans.
The LGBT community has always been served, she pointed out -- even in places like Masterpiece Cakes. And like so many other Christian wedding vendors, Jack offered to sell the men a cake. He just said he couldn't customize it the way they wanted without violating his faith. And for that, he's being hauled before courts and civil rights commissions, forced to undergo "reeducation training," and ordered to pay thousands of dollars in damages. As Patrina says:
"What the LGBTQ activists fail to realize as they try equate their 'struggle' with the civil rights movement is that the civil rights movement was born out of the very conscience they are trying to quench. And that conscience is 'that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,' and those rights include the free exercise and expression of religion, convictions and conscience. This right is guaranteed to every American. As millennials like to say, 'Can't we all just coexist?' Well, the very nature of the First Amendment is the freedom to coexist."
Perhaps the greatest irony, Dean Nelson explained, is that if anyone can identify with what African Americans went through, it's Jack. "To be honest, if I think about it deeply, he is probably a modern representation of someone who went through what African-Americans actually went through. He simply wants to live his life peaceably, to conduct himself and run his business without being bothered. But yet, he is subjugated and ostracized simply because of what he believes. If [more people] knew his story, [they] would understand that he is the furthest thing [from prejudiced]."
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. called his brave volunteers an army, Patrina said, but "an army whose allegiance was to God... it was an army that would sing but not slay... no arsenal except its faith, no currency but its conscience." That currency is for everyone. Let's pray the Supreme Court agrees. For more on the movement to support Masterpiece Cakes, check out WeGotYourBackJack.com.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.