In case you have forgotten, Jack Phillips is the Christian baker who owns “Masterpiece Cakeshop” in Colorado. It was Phillips who served gay clients as well as non-gay clients without prejudice for years. Yet it was also Phillips who was asked by a homosexual couple to customize a wedding cake with particular messaging rather than merely purchase a pre-made wedding cake for their upcoming nuptials.
That moment precipitated a nightmare for Phillips, who became the prime target of the so-called Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The Commission harassed Phillips, subjected him to fines, and put him through needless litigation because of his deeply held religious convictions. They willfully threatened his livelihood for years, until the Supreme Court of the United States finally forced them to stop.
Then, just three weeks after his victory at the Supreme
Court, the Commission was back, harassing him this time for not creating a
gender transition cake (seriously, a “gender transition cake”). Having demonstrated the patience of Job to
this point, that latest accusation was the final straw, demonstrating to both
Phillips and his attorney that the Commission was not going to ever stop
targeting him until they had driven him from business. So Phillips filed a countersuit alleging
Recently, news broke that (under the threat of losing this lawsuit) the Commission had chosen to settle with Phillips and withdraw their fire. Demonstrating his own Christian character in the face of what has been a living nightmare, Phillips agreed to withdraw his lawsuit and move forward.
In light of these circumstances, it’s hard not to feel triumph with and for Phillips. But somehow Mark Silk, Professor in Religion and Public Life at Trinity College, seemed more than a bit annoyed that it all turned out without additional legal censure for this humble Christian. Writing at Religion News Service, Silk opined that Brett Kavanaugh’s position on the Supreme Court doomed any hope that Phillips would get what’s coming to him:
“It’s no surprise that the commission decided that the better course of valor was to fold its tent.”
Valor? Valor is what
our soldiers exhibit on the battlefield as they risk their lives to protect the
liberties of those they’ve never met. To
use that term to describe the character assassination the commission has been
waging against a private citizen for years is odd to say the least.
What kind of person can witness the legal harassment that a
man of faith has had to endure simply for expressing a desire to honor God with
his talents, and actually describe the witch hunt in such glowing terms? Perhaps he didn’t mean it that way and just
chose a poor word to describe the situation.
Still, it’s clear that Silk is (willfully?) confused about the entire
episode. For instance, he writes:
“Few would want to require a Jewish baker to decorate a cake for a Nazi wedding, but we do not designate Nazis as a class of people in need of anti-discrimination protection. African-Americans are so designated and so, increasingly, are people who identify as LGBTQ.
Anyone who thinks that religious liberty protections should trump anti-discrimination law in Phillips’ case should therefore recognize that this will also enable a baker who believes that God forbids race-mixing to refuse to bake a cake for the wedding of a mixed-race couple.”
That’s just not logical.
People don’t “identify” as a particular race – race is a biological,
genetic construct that is innate, inborn, and immutable. Sexual attraction does not meet any of those
categories. If Silk was being
intellectually honest, he would compare those who identify as LGBTQ with those
who identify as a particular religion.
And with that more appropriate comparison in place, he would be
convicted by his own words.
After all, saying, “few would want to require a Jewish baker
to decorate a cake for a Nazi wedding,” is analogous to saying “few would want
to require a Christian baker to decorate a cake for a gay wedding, tripartite
union, second marriage, or any other celebration which contradicts the
instruction of God’s institution.” I
can’t help but think Silk, an esteemed professor, knows this. But for some reason he makes a bogus and
hyperbolic comparison. Why be so
uncharitable to a Christian believer by unjustly equating him to racists?
Perhaps the answer comes after Silk’s entire analysis devolves rapidly into this
revelatory concluding sentence:
“We can hope that, within a few years, opposition to same-sex marriage will go the way of opposition to mixed-race marriage, and the amount of discriminatory behavior like Phillips’ will become vanishingly small.”
That Mark Silk has adopted allegiance to the spirit of the age over the authority of Scripture is his own business. Seeking to harness the power of government to punish Christians who won’t choose the same is not. Discrimination indeed, Mr. Silk.