Standing for Truth and Defending Your Freedom
Standing for Truth and Defending Your Freedom

The Supreme Court Finally Agrees to Hear Cake Maker’s Case

Karen VanTil Gushta Ph.D.

After delaying nine times on deciding to hear the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips, a Christian who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex “wedding” ceremony in Lakewood, Colorado, in 2012, the U. S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear Phillip’s appeal during its next term. Phillips is not the only business owner to experience the wrath of disgruntled homosexuals who will not tolerate refusal by Christian cake makers, florists, B&B owners, photographers, calligraphers, or family farms to participate in their same-sex wedding ceremonies by rendering their services. If the high court decides in favor of Phillips, it will have ramifications for the many Christian business owners who are now facing crushing lawsuits and government actions against them for standing for their right of conscience and Christian belief that marriage is between one man and one woman. If the court decides against Phillips, its decision will affect conscience rights across the board.  

The right to live by our conscience is the cornerstone of religious liberty. From the beginning of the Christian church, believers have stood firm on their convictions. As Peter and John told the rulers, elders, and scribes who commanded them to keep silent about Jesus, “We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” Numberless believers have since then given their lives rather than renounce their belief and faith in Jesus Christ.

Fifteen hundred years after Peter and John, Martin Luther stood before the rulers and church leaders of his day and declared at the Diet of Worms, “Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason—I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other—my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.”

Those words, “To go against conscience is neither right nor safe,” have come ringing down through the centuries since Luther boldly declared them to the church and government rulers who were gathered to consider the charges of heresy laid against him. Today, Christians who go against the current common dogmas of our culture, the dogmas of homosexuality, transgenderism, and abortion, are the new “heretics.”  

Today’s heretics are those “close-minded bigots” who are intolerant of the rights of others—the “right” of gays and lesbians to marry the one they love; the “right” of a transgender person to walk into a restroom used by those of the opposite biological sex; the “right” of a woman to kill her unborn baby. These rights are considered sacred in American society today, and woe to any who are charged with “discrimination” due to a supposed failure to recognize these rights, regardless of one’s personal convictions.    

In Jack Phillips’ case, the Colorado Court of Appeals admitted that Phillips didn’t outwardly discriminate against the homosexual couple who came to him asking him to make them a wedding cake. However, said the court, the “act of same-sex marriage is closely correlated to Craig’s and Mullins’ sexual orientation.” This, in the eyes of the court, was sufficient reason for the judges to ascertain that Phillips real intention was to discriminate. As David Harsanyi wrote in The Federalist, in the court’s view, “[T]he threshold for denying religious liberty and free expression is the presence of advocacy or a political opinion that conflates with faith. The court [of the Colorado Court of Appeals] has effectively tasked itself with determining when religion is allowed to matter to you.” Thus, as Harsanyi, points out, “if SCOTUS upholds the lower court ruling, it will empower unelected civil rights commissions—typically stacked with hard-left authoritarians—to decide when your religious actions are appropriate.”

Court watchers will be closely surveying the lawyers’ arguments and the responses of the justices when the Supreme Court hears this case. Some already anticipate that Justice Kennedy could again be the deciding vote. “If,” as David French noted in National, “Justice Kennedy views this case primarily through the LGBT lens, then the First Amendment may well lose. Kennedy is obviously proud of his long line of LGBT-friendly precedents . . . so it will be critical to explain to him (and the other justices, of course) that this isn’t a case about ‘discrimination’ but rather about forced speech. Framing matters, and the other side will wrongly frame the case as raising the specter of Jim Crow. The right framing is found in the First Amendment.”

However, with the First Amendment in view, religious liberty attorneys are optimistic. Some think that Justice Neil Gorsuch has brought an ideological balance to the court. In his concurring opinion in the Trinity Lutheran case, which the high court decided this term, Gorsuch wrote, “After all, [the Free Exercise] Clause guarantees the free exercise [sic] of religion, not just the right to inward belief (or status).” As Bonnie Pritchett wrote at, “That has been a key argument in Masterpiece and similar cases. Attorneys argue state nondiscrimination laws that prioritize sexual autonomy over First Amendment Freedoms violate their clients’ freedom to act and speak according to their convictions.” Pritchett quoted Luke Goodrich, deputy general counsel with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, “[T]his case is about whether the government will allow people who disagree to live side-by-side in peace, or whether the government will instead pick one ‘correct’ moral view and force everyone to conform.”

Will there be a place for Christian “heretics” in American society going forward, or will the government force compliance with the new politically correct dogmas? Or better still, will a Third Great Awakening sweep across this land and awaken the consciences of men and women to God’s moral law and to the truths of His Word that Martin Luther and others stood upon five hundred years ago when the Protestant Reformation changed the face of European society?