We’re with Them: Christian Business Organizations Stand with Masterpiece Cakeshop
Mauck & Baker submitted an amicus (friend of the court) brief to the United States Supreme Court on September 7, on behalf of a group of five Christian business organizations in support of Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. and Jack Phillips. The highly-anticipated discrimination case is about whether the government can force artists to promote messages that go against their strongly held beliefs, in this case, designing a cake with a message celebrating a same-sex wedding.
In 2012, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Jack Phillips, declined to create a cake in celebration of the same-sex wedding ceremony of Charlie Craig and David Mullins. Craig and Mullins then sued the cake artist before the Colorado Human Rights Commission arguing that one’s faith and beliefs should not allow one to discriminate in the marketplace.
Siding with Craig and Mullins, the Commission found that that Jack Phillips and his bakery were guilty of discrimination. Ruling that, under the state’s anti-discrimination law, businesses open to the public could not refuse services based on gender and must treat all customers equally. In June of this year, in the wake of a number of similar rulings finding discrimination by Christians in the workplace over the issue of same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court announced it would review Jack Phillip’s case.
With similar concern to their own free exercise and free speech rights, C12 Group; Christian Employers Alliance; Pinnacle Forum; CEO Forum INC.; and Center for Faith and Work at LeTourneau University joined in an amicus brief on behalf of their members who are all business owners and executives. Like Jack Phillips, these owners and executives understand that their businesses are more than mere commerce, but are a calling from God. As a calling, they seek to conduct their businesses in a manner that honors Jesus Christ. Thus, as a matter of conscience, they cannot compartmentalize their lives into “secular” and “religious” categories, and seek to live their lives, livelihood included, in accordance with their religious convictions.
“No one should be forced to choose between being in the marketplace and following their religious convictions absent proof of a truly compelling governmental interest,” the amicus brief, submitted by Mauck & Baker, reads. And in this case, there was no compelling government interest requiring the surrender of his free speech and religious rights. Jack Phillips did not refuse to sell the complaining couple other cakes in his store. Nor did the complaining couple have any difficulty finding a cake elsewhere for the ceremony. In fact, other bakers offered to make them a cake for free. As was his custom with any message that he believed violated his conscience, Jack Phillips declined to use his God-given artistic skills to create this message because it was contrary to the Bible.
Moreover, the record also shows that other bakers who refused to create cakes with a Christian message that they believed to be offensive were found by the same Colorado Human Rights Commission not to have discriminated even though the regulations prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion as well as sexual orientation. Thus, as Rich Baker, an attorney at the law firm Mauck & Baker said, “Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop‘s, like other artisan bakers in Colorado, have the right to determine what messages they create and that the government cannot compel them to use their artistic skills to create message which violate their conscience.”
The Department of Justice also sided with Jack Phillips, “Forcing Phillips to create expression for and participate in a ceremony that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs invades his First Amendment rights,” read the government’s brief, also submitted on Thursday, September 7.
Read the amicus brief
Special Note: this story was updated from the September 13 version for inaccuracies
Posted on Mon, October 2, 2017
by Stephanie Grossoehme