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Jack Phillips's (and Our) Day in Court: Freedom of Speech, Religion, at Stake

We’ve talked a lot on BreakPoint over the past few months about Christian cake decorator Jack Phillips. Well today, Tuesday December 5, he has his day in court. This morning, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Masterpiece Cake Shop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

And John Stonestreet and I are asking you to pray. John, in fact, is outside the Supreme Court today, where he is speaking at a rally for Jack and for our free speech and religious freedom rights.

If you live near DC, you can attend the rally in person from 8amET till noon. If not, please join in virtually at the Facebook page of the Alliance Defending Freedom. We’ll link you to it at BreakPoint.org.

Now the facts of the case are pretty straight forward:

As John has told you, Phillips is an artist who designs master cakes. His business, Masterpiece Cakeshop, is an expression of his faith. So when a same sex couple asked him to custom design a cake for their same-sex wedding, Jack declined, but he then offered them any cake or other product in the store. For the record, Jack has refused business before. Due to his religious convictions he won’t, for example, design Halloween cakes or cakes that celebrate divorce.

At any rate, the couple was infuriated and hauled Jack before the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which fined him and ordered Jack and his employees to go through a “re-education” program.

Jack has since given up custom wedding cakes, a decision that has cost him 40 percent of his business.

Those are the facts. And I cannot overstate the importance of what’s at stake. Will Christian artists, Christian business owners, have the freedom to participate in the public square without abandoning their Christian conviction? Or will the state compel them to use their talents and livelihoods to support that which violates their faith?

Given legal precedents, Sharif Girgis, writing at The Public Discourse, says that despite what you’re hearing in the media, Jack has a strong case.

“For more than seventy years,” Girgis writes, “the Supreme Court has said government can’t force you to say, do, or make something that carries a message you reject.” For example, the Court has ruled that the government can’t compel Jehovah’s Witnesses to salute the flag.

Girgis argues that “[f]orcing Phillips to custom-design and create same-sex wedding cakes is compelled speech: it forces him to create an expressive (artistic) product carrying a message he rejects . . . [and] it does so without serving the type of interest that our constitutional law would consider a legitimate … justification for interfering with anyone’s free speech.”

So, Girgis concludes, “Colorado’s decision violates Phillips’s First Amendment rights.”

Now friends, we must pray that the Supreme Court concludes the same thing. Please, today, right after you hear this broadcast or read the transcript, pray that the Court will uphold Jack’s right to free speech and to practice his faith.

Pray especially for Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Kristin Waggoner, who will be making Jack’s case before the Court. And pray also for Justice Anthony Kennedy, who may very well be the swing vote. He has been a champion of LGBT rights, but he has also ruled against the government compelling speech.

And if you are able, join with John at the prayer rally today by visiting ADF’s Facebook page from 8AM to 11 AM this morning . . . or join the tweet fest on Twitter by following #JusticeForJack.

And please, share Sharif Girgis’s article with people you know. We will have it for you at BreakPoint.org

The stakes couldn’t be higher. Thank you for praying.


BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.

John Stonestreet, the host of The Point, a daily national radio program, provides thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.

Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Photo courtesy: Religion News Service

Publication date: December 5, 2017

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