Tag Archives: Freedom of Association

The backlash against Karen Pence reveals the fascist ambitions of the secular left

The Pence family: Karen is on the right
The Pence family: Karen is on the right

I saw this story about Mike Pence’s splendid wife Karen getting a job teaching in a Christian school. The school has Biblical views on sexuality, i.e. – no sex outside of marriage and marriage defined as one woman and one man. Well, the mainstream media didn’t a Christian woman behaving like a Christian in public, and they decided to shame her for being a Christian.

Here are the facts from the centrist Washinton Examiner:

The story at issue is that Pence has resumed teaching at a school that “does not allow gay students,” and otherwise discriminates against homosexuals. Well, that’s a rather slanted way to describe the situation.

The school requires adherence to beliefs that include rejection of all forms of pre- or extramarital sex, specifically including heterosexual activity outside of marriage. It’s not homosexuality per se the school disapproves of; it’s the act of sex except as pro-sanctioned by the Bible. This may sound strange to those with oh-so-modern sensibilities, but it’s hardly invidious discrimination.

[…]Yet that crucial context, that the school bans its students from engaging in all forms of sexual activity considered immoral by Christians, is buried (if included at all) in multiple leading news outlets in the bowels of stories beneath headlines and lead paragraphs portraying the school as being particularly ” anti-gay.”

If you’re relying on the mainstream media for your news sources, then you’re almost certainly being lied to.

The secular leftists in the media always Christian moral rules as bad things that exclude and hurt people’s feelings. The secular left treats the feelings of being offended or excluded as more important than the Constitutional rights of freedom of religion and freedom of association.

What was interesting to me about this article was the tone of the original story from the Washington Post.

This article from The Federalist explains:

It’s progressive dogma that leads Harvard-educated Washington Post editor to incredulously ask how traditional Christian schools can even “happen” in contemporary American society. She is not merely questioning whether Second Lady Karen Pence is right or wrong to teach at a Christian school –after all, Americans are free to be critical of  people’s faith (well most)—but rather how the existence of a school that adhere to the teachings of a church that counters progressive dogma can exist at all.

This is the same progressive moral dogma that justifies years-long attacks on the livelihood of Christian bakers and florists. It’s the same dogma that justifies coercing nuns to offer the rite of birth control. If one doesn’t adhere to these commandments, the state, the most powerful institution in the world, will sue them into submission.

The secular leftist wonders “how can people who disagree with me be allowed to exist at all?”

The Daily Caller noted:

Several progressive groups including the NOH8 Campaign, the Human Rights Campaign and The Trevor Project targeted Karen and the school over its faith-based policies. The Trevor Project even announced it plans to send 100 copies of a book depicting the Pences’ pet rabbit as homosexual to the school.

If you ask the secular leftists in the mainstream media “what would you do about Karen Pence and Christian schools, if you had all the power in the world, and were not accountable to anyone?” And the answer is pretty clear from their treatment of Christian bakers, florists, wedding photographers. The would use any means necessary in order silence and coerce Bible-believing Christians into behaving like progressive atheists. And why not? This has been the pattern of the secular left throughout history. Just look at Stalin, Mao, and the other secular leftist tyrants in atheist countries.

Ben Shapiro to the rescue

So where is the church on this? Well, I have noticed that many Christian pastors have nothing to say about politics, or any of the conflicts between Christians and the secular left. A friend of mine from Ohio just sent me this clip of pastor Alistair Begg, a pious fundamentalist pastor with limited real-world abilities, denouncing those who take political issues seriously. I am so sick and tired of these useless pastors who are coasting on the religious liberty that was provided for them by bolder men in ages past. (Aside: Wayne Grudem is pretty good on policy and politics, though)

But wait! The battlefield has not been abandoned by everyone. You see, Orthodox Jews have the same kinds of rules for their religious schools as evangelical Christians do. So, the task of defending Christian religious liberty was taken up by Orthodox Jew and conservative superhero Ben Shapiro.

Here is this Thursday podcast:

Watching Ben reminds me of being at university, feeling very alone, and then discovering videos of William Lane Craig debating atheists on campus. “Is anyone going to speak up for us?” Yes. Someone is going to speak up for us. Make sure you subscribe to Ben’s podcast. I never miss a single episode.

Two Christian women threatened with jail time for refusing to celebrate LGBT events

Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign
Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign

Is it safe to live as a Bible-believing Christian in America? We all know that you can live comfortably as a “Christian” by just behaving in compliance with whatever the secular left tells you. But what happens to you if you take the Bible seriously on moral issues? Is it easy to live consistently with the Bible in America?

Consider this article from Daily Wire:

Two female Christian artists in Arizona who refuse to make custom-art for same sex weddings could actually be jailed for sticking to their religious beliefs.

Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski , who own Brush & Nib Studio, make custom artwork using painting, calligraphy and handlettering. They filed suit against the city of Phoenix, as a Phoenix city ordinance threatens them with up to six months and/or a fine of $2,500 each day they refuse to make the artwork. First the women filed in state court to overturn the ordinance, but lost in a court of appeals, prompting them to appeal to the state’s Supreme Court, which said on November 20 it would hear the case.

There’s a video about the case from Fox News:

In other news, Christian baker Jack Phillips is STILL in trouble with the secular left fascists in Colorado. Although he won his case at the Supreme Court, the LGBT activists and their allies in the state government are still going after him to punish him for his Christian beliefs.

The Federalist had a really, really good article about it:

On June 26, 2017, the day the Supreme Court agreed to hear Phillips’ case, Autumn Scardina, a transgender attorney and activist, called Masterpiece Cakeshop and asked Phillips to design a custom cake with a blue exterior and a pink interior to symbolize a transition from male to female. Phillips politely turned Scardina down. “I was stunned,” the lawyer risibly claimed in her complaint to the Civil Rights Commission.

Scardina, of course, didn’t accidentally ask the most famous Christian baker in the nation to make a “transition” cake. Scardina is leading a crusade against Phillips. In one call, Scardina allegedly asked for “an image of Satan smoking marijuana.” In another, members of “the Church of Satan” asked for “a three-tiered white cake” with a “large figure of Satan, licking a nine inch black Dildo.” “I would like the dildo to be an actual working model that can be turned on before we unveil the cake,” went the request. You can just sense the sanctimonious smugness of people who think this sort of thing is edgy.

In any event, the state of Colorado has allied itself with such activists, formally determining that there was probable cause that Phillips had indeed discriminated against Scardina based on “gender identity.” Of course the baker’s refusal to make dildo and pentagram cakes only proves that Phillips isn’t specifically antagonistic to the newly consecrated belief in malleable “gender identity,” but that he’s shown a consistent adherence to his less malleable Christian values.

It’s those values that upset Scardina and members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Though they can’t say it explicitly, most progressives are fine with discrimination against religious groups. In their hierarchy of moral concerns, free expression isn’t nearly as concerning as the hurt feelings of an aggrieved gay couple. And Colorado is again complicit in another attack on the Constitution. Until SCOTUS comes down with a ruling that explicitly protects religious liberty from state-sponsored attacks on faith, they’ll keep trying.

But it goes well beyond those legal concerns. Activists — including the civil rights commission — are trying to destroy a man for thought crimes. This state-sponsored harassment isn’t only about Phillip’s modest business in Lakewood, Colorado, although that’s surely part of it. It’s a warning to all those with unpopular opinions to stay in line.

I’ve found myself thinking about how to live in a world where every day you get up to go to work, your livelihood is threatened by secular left fascists who want to use the government as a weapon to destroy your basic God-given human rights. And the only answers I can come up with to this are 1) avoid putting my children into public schools run by the secular left, and 2) retire as early as possible so that I don’t have to deal with the coming generation of social justice warriors in an office setting.

First, I need to avoid dealing with the secular left in public schools (my future children) or the workplace. This is because a lot of legal problems start when the secular left finds out what Christian parents are teaching their children. The easiest way to not deal with public schools is to not get married, unless you marry a woman who has carefully made pro-marriage decisions with her education, career and finances. Decisions designed to keep her future children out of the public schools. It’s very rare to find a young, unmarried Christian woman who has made correct decisions to protect her future family from the secular left, though. Thanks to the uncritical acceptance of radical feminism in the church – right under the noses of traditional conservative male pastors – most don’t want to homeschool and they haven’t made the right choices in education,career and finances to help their future husband afford homeschooling and/or private schools, anyway.

How about the workplace? Well, it’s fine for now if, for example, you live in a red state and you’re in the private sector and you’re working in a STEM field. But there’s a generation of unstable social justice warriors coming through the assembly line of government schools, and they’re going to hit the workplace shortly. I don’t want to be there when they finally arrive. The easiest way to get out of the workplace early is to have enough money saved so that you can retire early. But this is getting harder to do. In our culture, we’re always hearing that “good people” only have one acceptable way to vote: for higher taxes, more unskilled immigration and more government spending. This is the case even in conservative churches. Just last month, my Southern Baptist pastor told our Bible study that “Jesus was a refugee”, which is in keeping with the Democrat talking points of open borders leftists like Russell Moore. The more we vote for government to be the “solution” to people’s bad choices, the higher taxes will go, and the more exposed Christians are going to be to troubles in the workplace.

Well, I probably track these religious liberty stories more than most. And I worry about it more than most, too. I am more prepared than most to avoid having my conscience violated by the secular left. But I don’t see things getting better. There just isn’t any seriousness among Christians to hold the line on Biblical teachings and values. We’ve long ago dumped the masculine aspects of Christianity – uncomfortable theological truths and politically incorrect moral rules – for a more feminine focus on non-judgmentalism, feelings, self-esteem, universalism, etc. In the church today, you’re unlikely to win an argument about a moral issue by citing the Bible and then supporting your claim with peer-reviewed evidence. Instead, the church decided that the highest authority is to conform to the demands of people whose best argument is “agree with me, or I’ll commit suicide due to bad feelings!” That apparently has a lot of weight in the feminized church today. But not with me.

Have you heard of Kristen Waggoner and the Alliance Defending Freedom?

Kristen Waggoner of Alliance Defending Freedom argued Jack Phillips’ case before the Supreme Court. (Photo: Jeff Malet/The Heritage Foundation)
Kristen Waggoner of Alliance Defending Freedom argued Jack Phillips’ case before the Supreme Court. (Photo: Jeff Malet/The Heritage Foundation)

I was very surprised to see the far-left Washington Post post a balanced article on Alliance Defending Freedom. The ADF is a group of lawyers who do battle in defense of religious liberty and conscience in the Supreme Court. They have won 9 cases at the Supreme Court in the last 7 years, despite having to argue in front of a court that had a 5-4 liberal majority.

Here’s some of the article:

Two days before the announcement of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s retirement, a woman who stood to gain from it was on the steps of the Supreme Court once again. Kristen Waggoner’s blond bob was perfectly styled with humidity-fighting paste she’d slicked onto it that morning at the Trump hotel. Her 5-foot frame was heightened by a pair of nude pumps, despite a months-old ankle fracture in need of surgery. On her wrist was a silver bracelet she’d worn nonstop since Dec. 5, 2017, the day she marched up these iconic steps, stood before the justices and argued that a Christian baker could legally refuse to create a cake for a gay couple’s wedding.

Her job was to be the legal mind and public face of Alliance Defending Freedom., an Arizona-based Christian conservative legal nonprofit better known as ADF. Though far from a household name, the results of ADF’s work are well known. Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission was just one of ADF’s cases at the Supreme Court this term. The organization has had nine successful cases before the court in the past seven years, including Burwell v. Hobby Lobby…

I follow very few people on Twitter, only about 27-30. One of those people is Kristen Waggoner. She is the lead counsel in many of these Supreme Court cases. She is the best at what she does.

Her silver bracelet is engraved with a famous passage that I think has inspired many Christian women of courage. It’s from the book of Esther. The bracelet says “For Such A Time As This”. It’s a phrase that is taken from Mordecai’s warning to Esther that God is sovereign over her life, and that he has put her into a position to defend her whole nation from threats.

Here’s the passage in context from Esther 4:6-17:

6 So Hathak went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate.

7 Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews.

8 He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to instruct her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.

9 Hathak went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said.

10 Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai,

11 “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”

12 When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai,

13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape.

14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai:

16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

17 So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.

Kristen Waggoner is our Esther. She actually has much better character and abilities than the real Esther .

Her biography is here on the ADF web site.

It says, in part:

Kristen K. Waggoner serves as senior vice president of U.S. legal division and communications with Alliance Defending Freedom. In this role, Waggoner oversees the U.S. legal division, a team of 100 attorneys and staff who engage in litigation, public advocacy, and legislative support. Since she assumed this role, ADF has prevailed as lead counsel in eight U.S. Supreme Court victories, including Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which she argued at the Supreme Court and won. She continues as lead counsel in Arlene’s Flowers v. State of Washington, which the Supreme Court remanded to the lower courts. She also served as counsel for the free speech victory that the Supreme Court handed down in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra.

I consider it amazing that more Christians don’t know who she is. Christians tend to admire famous celebrities, athletes, artists. And prosperity gospel preachers. But these people merely entertain us. Kristen Waggoner is not an entertainer, she is a warrior. She goes into the most dangerous places and fights for the liberty of every one of us. She’s become a sheep dog in order to protect the sheep. Right now, we are facing challenges from people who are trying to use the law like a weapon to bully and silence anyone who tries to live out an authentic Christian life. Powerful people are trying to say that when a Christian’s liberty makes them FEEL BAD, that means that the Christian’s liberty needs to be suppressed. The ADF is there to make sure that they don’t succeed.

Whenever the ADF goes out to battle, I make sure to write about their cases on this blog. We should all be informed and give respect to Kristen Waggoner and everyone who works for the ADF. They are some of the most effective and influential Christians, and they deserve our gratitude and our respect.

More about her background

One of the other groups I like a lot is the Heritage Foundation, my favorite think tank. I have similar admiration and respect for the people who work there, such as Genevieve Wood and Jennifer Marshall. The Daily Signal, a news site operated by the Heritage Foundation, has posted a story about Kristen Waggoner’s background.

It says:

Waggoner grew up as Kristen Kellie Behrends in Longview, Washington, about two hours south of Seattle and an hour north of Portland.

What she treasures most about her upbringing, Waggoner says, is that she was steeped in consistent values at home, church, and school that shaped her worldview without sheltering her.

Her father taught her from Scripture about “being an Esther, being a Deborah, used by God,” she says, and that “joy and fulfillment come from having a purpose that’s bigger than ourselves.”

“It’s not about us, we’re a part of a bigger story that has to do with helping human flourishing. And that just shaped my whole life, even now.”

[…]Once a teacher in public schools, today her father is a licensed minister in the Assemblies of God denomination. He is associate pastor of Cedar Park Church in Bothell, Washington, and superintendent of an affiliated school system.

Young Kristen would go to the principal’s office to visit her father three or four times a day, sometimes because she got into trouble. In these encounters, he urged her to find and develop her talents, and apply them in a way that would honor God.

And one day, Waggoner recalls, she saw clearly that defending ministries and religious freedom should be her path.

[…]“The right of conscience is critical to the existence of the country and is the first freedom that our other civil liberties are directly connected with,” Waggoner says. “I wanted to be a part of that—that fight to preserve it for my children and my grandchildren.”

On this blog, I put a lot of emphasis on Christians being careful about what they study in school, what jobs they take, how they manage their money, and who they choose to marry. The goal of all this is to make sure that young Christians are thoughtful about having a vision for their lives, and pursuing that vision in a way that minimizes wildness, fun and thrills. Becoming a hero doesn’t happen by accident, it takes planning and execution. There is no path to success that involves doing whatever feels good moment-by-moment. In order to make a difference, we need to be careful about doing what works, not pursuing fun and thrills in the moment.

Should people in sinful lifestyles bully churches into celebrating them?

Anti-marriage gay activists vandalize church
Anti-marriage gay activists vandalize church

This story was the topic of the most recent episode of the Reasonable Faith podcast. Basically, a conservative, apologetics-friendly church had a homosexual person who wanted to be openly gay and still be accepted as a member. After he was told by the church that he could attend the church, but not be a member, he decided to write the mainstream media to shame the church.

Here is the link to Reasonable Faith‘s podcast – and they have a transcript.

I want to first focus on the letter written by the gay man:

Dear Watermark Community Church,

Today I celebrate a very interesting anniversary with you. It was exactly one year ago when you told me that I was no longer worthy to serve, be in a community group, and be a member of your church.

I spent years in your church battling against my homosexuality. I believed with all my heart that God would change me; I prayed for change almost daily. But when I wasn’t able to change, you turned your back on me.

You say our “sin” is not unique, but you treat us in a unique manner; this is unacceptable behavior. We are actual people that have actual feelings.

Here we are a year later and you are still doing to others what you did to me. You are tarnishing the name of God to Christians and non-Christians alike; you should be ashamed of yourselves! Do not forget, Jesus was a angry with people just like you who said certain groups of people were not worthy to be followers of Him.

Thank you for removing yourself from my life! I am who God made me to be. I cannot change my sexual orientation and nor would I want to. I now have internal peace and happiness unlike ever before.

Jason Thomas

As Reasonable Faith notes, this is what he said and this is what the far-left Dallas Morning News reported. It sounds like the church was very mean to him, but is that what really happened?

Here is what the church actually wrote to him:

Dear Jason,

This is a difficult letter to write, as I am sure that it will be a difficult one to hear and receive. We genuinely care for you, love you, and want nothing more for you than to live an abundant life that is found in Jesus Christ alone.

However, in our attempt to shepherd you, we have recognised a destructive pattern that prohibits us in caring for you and playing the role you desire for us to have in your life (1 Peter 5:1-4; Acts 20:28). Specifically, your desire to actively participate in a same-sex relationship with another man, and your unwillingness to heed biblical counsel from your church to turn from that relationship, has made it exceedingly difficult to shepherd you during this time.

As we noted during our time together last Tuesday (9/29/15), and through the years, we have gently & repeatedly brought these patterns to your attention and, at times, you have heeded this counsel and repented. But now, this is no longer the case. So, in obedience to Matthew 18:15-18 and 1 Corinthians 5:11, we are left with no other option but to remove you from our body and treat you as we would anyone who is living out of fellowship with God…and we lovingly, but firmly, call you back to repentance. This means that you are no longer a member of our body at Watermark. We are praying that repentance comes quickly and that you do not continue choosing a path of destruction and one that leads you away from the authority and care of the church.

We recognise that these patterns are only symptoms of a heart that is either unwilling or unable to fully trust God in every area of your life, including your sexuality. We plead with you to run to the Lord and allow the Spirit of God to begin to transform your heart in a mighty way (Titus 3:3-7).

In order to help you through this time, we would like to make some tangible recommendations that we hope will serve as a catalyst for true repentance and heart-change in your life. They are:

1. Faithful attendance of Re:Generation targeting the above issue, while following counsel to not be in a dating relationship during that time.

2. Meet with a Watermark staff member who shares in the same struggle (same sex attraction) who has found freedom, healing, and victory through our Savior Jesus Christ (just let Brandon know when you’re ready to meet with him).

We affirm your many gifts, your heart of kindness, and we value the way God has uniquely formed you (Psalm 139:13-14). We all pray for your repentance and full restoration so that your gifts and passions can be fully unleashed for the Kingdom of God. We love you, Jason, and stand at the gate for you and eagerly await God’s restoration in your life (Luke 15:20).

In Christ,

The Elders of Watermark Community Church

Here is what one of my friends at Watermark who was aware of the situation told me:

I think it’s clear that Watermark was very kind and loving in their discipline and can’t be called hypocritical or homophobic, and they were not trying to change the man’s sexual orientation but rather simply asking him to abstain from sexual relationships. They give lots of chances before administering discipline and the process is the same each time they go through this with members. Some repent and some turn away.

As we have seen, publicizing those who disagree with homosexuality and gay marriage is a favorite tactic of the fascist left. Sometimes, it just involves smearing (e.g. – the Southern Povery Law Center).  Sometimes, it involves lawfare, (e.g. – the attorney general of Washington state). Sometimes, it involves leaking the names of pro-marriage donors (e.g. – the Human Rights Campaign). Sometimes, it involves vandalism, violence and even domestic terrorism (e.g. – Floyd Lee Corkins’ attack on the Family Research Council). When it comes to homosexuality and gay marriage, fascism is the normal response to dissent.

I just find it astonishing that gay activists and other radicals on the left think that they can try to bring in the mainstream media and the law to punish the church for holding to orthodox Christian moral values. But this is why we call sin “sin”. We don’t call chastity a sin, because chaste people don’t behave like fascists when they hear disagreement. We don’t call having lots of children a sin, because people who have lots of children don’t behave like fascists if anyone disagrees with them. There is something really wrong with these behaviors that the Bible forbids. You can see why the Bible condemns certain things as sins when you look at the fascist responses to disagreement with the sin.

Look at 1 Corinthians 6:1-10:

1 If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people?

Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases?

Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!

Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? 

I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 

But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers!

The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 

Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters.

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived:Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men

10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Consider 1 Corinthians 5:9-13:

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—

10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.

11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?

13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”

Everyone sins. Fine. Keep it to yourself. Don’t use the law to force Bible-believing Christians to celebrate your sins. The church’s job is to help you to be more like Christ. You’re in a community where everyone is supposed to be serious about growing as a Christian and part of that involves improving your character morally. Another part means getting along with other Christians instead of being disruptive.

Regarding complaints about not being able to act on your sexual orientation, I have no sympathy. I am attracted to women, and I am a virgin, because I am not married. I am not going to church to rebel against this requirement. My job is to structure my life in such a way that it is easier to obey it, whether that involves studying the issue in the research or drawing the line long before I have to make a decision in the heat of the moment. God must be #1 in a person’s life, setting goals and policies, and our job is to make and execute effective plans that deliver results for the Boss.

By the way, do not miss this other recent article on homosexuality from Reasonable Faith.

Highlights from day one of the Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court case

Kristen Waggoner of Alliance Defending Freedom argued Jack Phillips’ case before the Supreme Court. (Photo: Jeff Malet/The Heritage Foundation) Kristen Waggoner of Alliance Defending Freedom argued Jack Phillips’ case before the Supreme Court. (Photo: Jeff Malet/The Heritage Foundation)

I thought it might be worth reading about the first day of arguments in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. Not only can we find out what is likely to happen, but we’ll also learn how the ADF lawyer Kristen Waggoner is making her defense.

The Daily Signal reports:

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday in a closely watched case dealing with free speech, religious liberty, and same-sex marriage.

Specifically, the justices considered whether the state of Colorado can force Jack Phillips, a Christian baker, to create a custom cake for a same-sex wedding against his deeply held religious beliefs.

Attorneys for Phillips clearly explained that he seeks to exercise his freedom only to speak messages that he agrees with, while still welcoming all customers into his store. The First Amendment’s free speech and religious liberty clauses protect his freedoms to do just that.

In a lengthy and charged oral argument, the nine justices wrestled with how Americans who hold different views on marriage in our post-Obergefell society can continue to live with each other in mutual respect.

Here is the key that might predict the outcome, from the Supreme Court’s swing vote:

In one of the most charged exchanges of the day, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy questioned Colorado Solicitor General Frederick Yarger about whether a member of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission who compared Phillips to a racist and a Nazi demonstrated anti-religious bias—and that, if he did so, whether the judgment against Masterpiece should stand.

More:

After disavowing the commissioner’s comments, Yarger argued that the ruling should still stand. But Kennedy returned to the issue again, telling Yarger that “tolerance is essential in a free society. And tolerance is most meaningful when it’s mutual. It seems to me that the state in its position here has been neither tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips’ religious beliefs.”

Kennedy also pointed out there were other cake shops that would have accommodated Charlie Craig and David Mullins, the same-sex couple who requested a cake for their wedding.

In a similar line of questioning, Justice Samuel Alito pointed out that the state of Colorado had failed to demonstrate mutual tolerance when it only protected the freedom of cake artists who landed on one side of the gay marriage debate—namely, the state’s side.

When three religious customers went to cake artists to request cakes that were critical of same-sex marriage, those cake artists declined—yet Colorado did not apply its anti-discrimination statute to punish the artists. But when Phillips declined to create a cake to celebrate a same-sex marriage, Colorado imposed a three-pronged penalty that drove him out of the wedding cake business, causing him to lose 40 percent of his business.

[…]In the exchange with Alito, the Colorado solicitor general said that cake artists could not discriminate on the basis of identity, but could discriminate on the basis of messages. Gorsuch later responded, saying that’s exactly what Phillips has argued.

It was also made clear that Phillips was not discriminating against identity, but just refusing to agree with the state’s position on same-sex marriage.

During the oral arguments, the court appeared to recognize what is patently obvious from the facts. Phillips welcomes all people into his store, encourages them to buy off-the-shelf items, and will make custom-designed cakes for them provided they don’t ask for items that violate his beliefs.

He has served gays for the 24 years his store has been in operation and welcomes their business to this day. He does not discriminate against anybody because of their identity.

So comparisons to shopkeepers in the Jim Crow South who sought to keep the races “separate but equal” are a smear that divert attention from the real issue: Phillips simply disagrees with the state on the issue of marriage.

More:

Finally, the oral arguments revealed the scope of how far the state of Colorado is willing to go to impose its views of marriage on citizens. In one line of questioning from Roberts, Colorado admitted that it would force Catholic Legal Services to provide a same-sex couple with legal services related to their wedding even if it violates Catholic teachings on marriage.

And in questioning from Alito, the ACLU answered that the state could force a Christian college whose creed opposes same-sex marriage to perform a same-sex wedding in its chapel.

I was listening to the latest Ben Shapiro podcast, and in the last 10 minutes, he talked about the case. He pointed out that at the time when Phillips refused to participate in a same-sex marriage, same-sex marriage was not even legal in Colorado. Nevertheless, Colorado went after him. Hard. I think they secular left is going to lose this case – it’s just too much fascism. Too much intolerance.

You can read more about Kristen Waggoner here. She’s also arguing the Arlen’s Flowers v. the State of Washington case. A great lady. A real hero.

If you’re looking for a great book to read on what comes after same-sex marriage and how to discuss and debate it, read Ryan T. Anderon’s “Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Liberty“. It’s the best book for laymen on the subject. Really helps you to know how to talk about this issue. I had to do it a week ago with one of my atheist co-workers who asked ME out to lunch to talk more about his spiritual journey. If you don’t read, you can’t defend.