Christian baker fights back after state orders him to violate faith

(Image courtesy Pixabay)

A Colorado bakery owner who has been under assault for his Christian faith for nearly a decade has filed a notice of appeal with the Colorado Court of Appeals over the latest state court decision that ordered him to violate his faith.

This is the same Colorado justice system that earlier was found by the U.S. Supreme Court to have been “hostile” to the Christian faith of Jack Phillips.

The latest fight is over a staged request by an activist lawyer that Phillips create a cake with a message promoting his transgender transition – pink-and-blue.

The lower court said Phillips, who runs the now-famous Masterpiece Cakeshop, was required to do exactly that.

But the notice of appeal, filed by the Alliance Defending Freedom which successfully argued Phillips’ earlier victory in a fight over same-sex wedding cakes at the U.S. Supreme Court, said the appeal addressed the lower court’s ruling “that punished Phillips for declining to design a custom pink-and-blue cake celebrating a gender transition when asked to do so by an activist attorney.”

“No one should be forced to express a message that violates their beliefs and conscience” said ADF lawyer Jake Warner. “Activists and government officials are targeting artists like Jack because they can’t promote messages on marriage and gender that violate their core beliefs.

“In this case, an activist attorney demanded that Jack Phillips create custom cakes in order to test Jack and to ‘correct the errors’ of his thinking, and the attorney even threatened to sue Jack again if the case is dismissed for any reason. This case and others like it represent a disturbing trend: Activists are weaponizing the legal system to ruin those who simply disagree with them. Someone you disagree with might be the one targeted today, but when political winds shift, it could just as easily be you or anyone else tomorrow.”

The ADF explained the lawyer who filed the action demanded a “custom-designed cake, pink on the inside and blue on the outside, to reflect and celebrate a gender transition.”

Phillips’ shop declined that request because the customer specifically requested that the cake express messages and celebrate an event contrary to Phillips’ religious beliefs, the ADF said.

“The decision turned not on who was requesting the custom cake, but on what the cake would express. As the trial court found, Phillips would not create a cake expressing the requested message ‘for anyone,'” the ADF said.

“Jack has been harassed for nearly a decade for living by his faith and making artistic decisions that artists have always made,” Warner explained. “That’s why we have appealed this decision and will continue to defend the freedom of all Americans to peacefully live and work according to their core convictions without fear of government punishment.”

It was A. Bruce Jones, a judge in Colorado’s 2nd Judicial District, who stunningly concluded that an artist’s creations are not speech at all and the state is allowed to force a baker to violate his own religious beliefs in order to submit to the demands of a transgender activist.

The case involves the demand from Autumn Scardina, a lawyer who was born a man and now lives as a woman.

Phillips is the baker who earlier was attacked under Colorado’s anti-discrimination law for declining to provide a wedding cake for a same-sex duo. A state commission publicly excoriated him for his faith and likened him to Nazis, an act that ultimately brought a rebuke from the U.S. Supreme Court for being hostile to faith. The court decided that case in Phillips’ favor, 7-2.

Critical to that decision was the fact that evidence revealed that when homosexual bakers in Colorado were asked to create a cake condemning homosexuality, they refused on the grounds it was a message they couldn’t support. The state supported their refusal yet required Phillips to undergo re-indoctrination because he wanted the same control over his messages.

Jones’ opinion was that the Colorado law – and its demands on an artist’s speech – “does not infringe on defendants’ religious exercise.”

The judge also claimed that the case was not in any way a “setup.”

But Scardina admitted he had “vented” against Phillips by writing him emails when his same-sex wedding cake case was going on. Scardina called him a bigot and hypocrite, according to testimony.

Then Scardina claimed to have forgotten about being upset and wanted Phillips to make a “birthday” cake.

The state of Colorado earlier had joined Scardina in the battle against Phillips’ faith, but dropped its case when he sued the state for harassment in federal court. In 2019, the state and Phillips reached a settlement and withdrew their complaints.

Scardina then sued Phillips separately.

Evidence shows Phillips has a policy of declining to make cakes with messages regarding Halloween, alcohol, racism and marijuana, or other issues that violate his faith.

The lower court judge admitted that many activities are “inherently expressive,” and the application of the public accommodation laws in those cases had the effect of foisting “a third-party’s message on another speaker.” But that judge said that didn’t matter in this case.

In fact, he claimed the “requested cake” would not be “any type of symbolic or expressive speech protected by the First Amendment.”

“Mr. Phillips may often use artistic techniques and tools to create baked goods. However, the fact that goods or services may involve some level of artistry or skill does not transform all such goods into ‘expressive speech,'” the judge claimed.

During the course of the earlier case, it was Diann Rice, then a member of the state commission, who expressed hostility against Christian faith.

“I would also like to reiterate what we said in the hearing or the last meeting. Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust, whether it be – I mean, we – we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination,” she said. “And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to – to use their religion to hurt others.”

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