Jack Phillips: Victim of Church and State

Jack Phillips Under the Confusing Wall Between Church and State

Jack Phillips of Lakewood, Colorado refused to bake a cake to celebrate a gay marriage. The citizens who wanted the cake took the matter to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. This is a case in point for the book I’m writing about separation of church and state. Laws designed to separate church and state often violate the free exercise clause of the first amendment. This is a prime example of how that works.

The Beaver and the Coyote

coyoteSo I’m a beaver and I have rights to make beaver lodges. Then along comes this coyote who says he wants me to build a beaver lodge for him to live in. Well, I think it’s a dangerous heresy for a coyote to live in a beaver lodge. But the law will punish me if I don’t build it. So what’s the problem? Let’s look at this a bit.

The law is making me responsible to build this coyote a beaver lodge. I have a sign hanging in my lodge construction shop that says, “No shoes, no shirt, no lodge.” That worked for many years but I didn’t think to say “no lodges for coyotes”.  Oh yes; and I had another sign by the main entrance that said, “I reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.” That reminded people that my lodge shop was my business, I was the owner and I had rights. So that’s one thing.

But the big issue here is slavery.

Slavery?

Mascot Owl Left Wing Extended

My wife Charlet figured this all out many years ago in the context of marriage. During a substitute teaching stint at a local high school, the discussion turned to the plight of “trailing wives” who have to go where their husbands take them. She hit the nail on the head when she said, “If the husband has the responsibility to provide for the family and doesn’t have the authority to choose where and how to do it, he is a slave. Responsibility without authority is slavery.” And then she added, “And, authority without responsibility is tyranny.” That describes both sides of slavery: the slave and his dictatorial master.

In the present case, the law has made Jack Phillips responsible for making a certain cake and insists that Jack lacks authority to choose how he will operate his own business. The familiar sign “We reserve the right to refuse service …” is illegal in Jack’s shop.

So have anti-discrimination laws reinstated slave labor for Jack?

The Thirteenth and the First Amendments

The thirteenth reads like this:

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” 1

In the early days of the US, there was a culture that allowed people to own one another. The slave was the “property” of his master. The owner gave responsibilities to his “property” and expected the slave to handle them. The slave didn’t have the authority to say “no”. If he did the law would support his master in punishing the slave. We had a very bloody civil war over this.

It is interesting that the thirteenth amendment describes exactly what Jack Phillips has experienced. He was found guilty three times until the United States Supreme Court ruled otherwise. Each conviction subjected him to involuntary servitude which, in turn, violated his right to freely exercise his religion. That right is protected by the free exercise clause of the first amendment which reads:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; …” 2

There are grounds here for a claim of unconstitutional law.

Why This is Ironic

There is also great irony in this case. It was the Colorado Civil Rights Commission that filed suit against Phillips. During the public hearings on the case, some of the commissioners compared his description of his religious beliefs to a defense of slavery. Slavery?

The records of the the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) read:

“As the record shows, some of the commissioners at the Commission’s formal, public hearings endorsed the view that religious beliefs cannot legitimately be carried into the public sphere or commercial domain, disparaged Phillips’ faith as despicable, and characterized it as merely rhetorical, and compared his invocation of his sincerely held religious beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust.” 3

This sounds like bullying to me.

If the government, using anti-discrimination law, forces you to support something that violates your conscience, the question comes to mind: 'Who is discriminating against whom?'Click To Tweet There are two important facts here:

  1. Affirmative action laws are inherently discriminatory. They define classes of citizens (in a supposedly classless society) and discriminate between those classes.
  2. It is impossible for a law to “protect” the rights of one citizen without violating the rights of another because they are henceforth unequal under the law.

Ruling of the Supreme Court

Some of the key wording of the court’s June 4, 2018, findings:

“The government, consistent with the Constitution’s guarantee of free exercise, cannot impose regulations that are hostile to the religious beliefs of affected citizens and cannot act in a manner that passes judgment upon or presupposes the illegitimacy of religious beliefs and practices.

Held: The Commission’s actions, in this case, violated the Free Exercise Clause.” 4

The Current Status

Some of the people in Colorado will not let this matter settle. Phillips has become the target of continued bullying and harassment. The Washington Times newspaper reported the following events following the ruling by SCOTUS:

“One requester demanded that Jack Phillips bake a cake for Satan, complete with a working sex toy. Another request involved a cake that was blue on the outside and pink on the inside — which wasn’t a problem until the caller said it was meant to commemorate her transition from male to female.”

[The Colorado Civil Rights Commission is not content to with the SCOTUS ruling and seems determined to punish Phillips. Maybe they are angry because the ruling was so embarrassing to them? At any rate,] “they have slapped him with a judgment over the transgender cake. He said the state crossed the line into harassment and sued Tuesday, Aug 14, in federal court, asking a judge to order [the state] to leave him alone.” 5

gay rights flagGay Rights Advocate: Gays Betray Themselves

Tammy Bruce writes this:

“As a gay woman who has been involved in efforts to ensure the equal treatment of gays and lesbians, I remain appalled at how the liberal gay activist agenda has become exactly the same thing the original gay civil rights movement fought against. The gay rights movement originally was an effort for us to be left alone and to not be punished for who we are. We simply wanted to be able to live our lives without fear of arrest, or our businesses raided or destroyed, because of who we were.

Fast forward from 1969 to the 21st century. It is now gays and lesbians targeting other people for punishment and destruction, simply because of who they are. For most of our history, gays worked to “pass” as heterosexual so as to not be harassed, punished or fired from our jobs.” 6


Amendment XIII, The Heritage Guide to the Constitution
Amendment I, The Heritage Guide to the Constitution
3 Masterpiece Bakeshop , Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, United State Supreme Court Center
4 Ibid.
5 Christian baker vindicated by SCOTUS back in court for not baking a gender transitioning cake, Washington Times, August 15, 2018
6 Tammy Bruce: ‘Bake the cake or else’ is back — Baker who won high court ruling is under renewed assault, Fox News, August 18, 2018

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Jackson Pemberton

Jackson graduated with honors in Physics and Mathematics and in the top of his MBA class. He is the die-hard constitutionalist who wrote the bicentennial series “A New Message” for The Freeman magazine in 1976. He is presently writing the book Church and State, A Citizen's Guide and publishing as he writes it on the blog you are now reading.
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