The name Jack Phillips may or may not be familiar to you. He has been prominently in the news in the past and is back in again. I’m pretty sure he would rather not be there at all. Here’s a bit of his story…
In 1993 Jack opened Masterpiece Cakeshop as a family business in Lakewood, Colorado. He served his community well for over 20 years. In July 2012, two men came into his business requesting a custom cake to celebrate their same sex marriage. Jack politely declined, offering to sell them anything in his shop or to design them a cake for other occasions. Shortly after that, he began receiving threatening phone calls. In December 2013, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled against Jack, ordering him to either begin making cakes for same sex marriages or stop making wedding cakes. That was 40% of his business. The commission also ordered him to “reeducate” his staff, teaching them that he was wrong to operate his business by refusing to do cakes for same sex marriage, based on his religious faith. In addition, he was ordered to file quarterly reports to the commission reporting any declines to do cakes and why.
In July 2016, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court on Jack’s behalf. On June 4, 2018, The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of Jack, reversing the Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruling against him. However, that’s not the end of the story…
Jack has continued to receive requests to make provocative custom cakes that are obviously against his religious convictions. Recently, the commission tried to force him to bake a cake celebrating a “gender transition” for a homosexual man who was “becoming” a woman. Jack has found himself back to suing the state of Colorado to maintain his right to act based on his religious faith.
Make no mistake about it, this is not about hating or wrongly discriminating against a group of people. It is about whether a person can operate based on long standing religious principles. It is about the exercise of religious freedom.
In a democratic republic, where the government is of, for, and by the people, we have the responsibility as citizens to do what we can to preserve our freedoms. That includes praying, being informed, speaking out in an intelligent and kind way, and voting. “…Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand more.” Luke 12: 48b (ESV) In Jesus’ day, the government was an authoritarian one, which didn’t allow that kind of participation.
However, having said that, as followers of Jesus, we must remember His words that still resonate today. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (ESV)
Persecution has been a part of following Jesus for the last 2000 plus years! Here in the United States we have taken for granted the freedoms we enjoy, and have not had to suffer for Christ like many others through the years. That may be changing. I don’t know what is coming, but I do know that we should not be surprised by any persecution we are called on to endure. Jack Phillips is being persecuted, but is not exhibiting hate toward his persecutors. Although he is rightly pursuing his constitutional right to legally defend himself, he is, at the same time, conducting himself in a Christ like manner while being wrongly treated.
May we, who follow Jesus, take a lesson from this story! May we be willing to live a life that honors Christ, even if it does bring persecution!