Tag Archives: Freedom of Association

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.

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’m in a situation right now where I am trying to become a member of a wonderful PCA church, which I have been attending regularly for months – but never taken communion. The PCA church is a Reformed church and they believe in infant baptism.

I am a 3.9 point Calvinist, and opposed to infant baptism. Both of these challenges came up in the new members meeting (not from me, because I don’t want to do anything in their church to annoy the leaders at all). The lead pastor said that all we have to do for salvation is to trust God, he does everything. Well, as long as that trust is a genuine free will choice, then I agree with him. He also said that you don’t have to sign off on every point of Reformed theology, especially predestination. He assured us that many of the elders were former baptists, and they had good reasons for their Presbyterian view. This was a FIVE HOUR free for all discussion with the pastors and elders! Yet, I did not feel it was my place to raise public criticisms even in a home setting. Instead, I went out of my way to try to ask questions about the parts of the church that impressed me: apologetics and public debates with atheists. Going forward, I don’t intend to express my thoughts to anyone in the church, and I certainly DO NOT want to be a leader in the church. That’s what this blog is for. I didn’t start that church, I’m just there to attend and learn.

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 aren’t fascists when they hear disagreement. We don’t call caring for the elderly a sin, because caring people aren’t fascists when they hear disagreement. There is something really wrong with these behaviors that the Bible forbids, and you can see what it is when you look at the totalitarian responses to mere 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.

Todd Starnes: Ted Cruz is the best candidate to defend religious liberty

Ted Cruz explains policy to little girl who wants to be President
Ted Cruz explains policy to little girl who wants to be President

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, my second favorite think tank behind the Heritage Foundation, is advising the Ted Cruz campaign about religious liberty issues. They’ve actually made a list of things for him to do if he is elected President. Since this issue is the core of my being – it animates my whole life plan – I was curious to see what Cruz intends to do about religious liberty.

Here is Todd Starnes of Fox News writing about it:

America’s Christian bakers and florists and wedding planners will be safe under a Ted Cruz presidency.

“I am absolutely convinced in my discussions with the senator that religious liberty will be a lot better off in America with a Cruz administration,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and Chair of Cruz’s Religious Liberty Advisory Council.

The council released exclusively to me its initial recommendations for both legislative and executive actions that will restore the nation’s First Freedom – the freedom of religion.

[…]The council, made up of prominent religious leaders, recommended 15 action items that will protect Americans from discrimination by the federal government on the basis of their view of marriage and also protect employers threatened by the HHS contraception mandate.

[…]The council is also calling on Cruz to direct a review of the IRS’ treatment of religious organizations and to direct federal agencies to respect the free exercise of religion.

The list includes measures to promote religious liberty at the Department of Education, the IRS, the Department of Health and Human Services, the armed forces, and in the federal government as a whole.

Cruz has a record on defending religious liberty:

Cruz has been a passionate advocate of religious liberty for years. He’s been in the front line trenches defending our First Freedom – helping secure courtroom victories to preserve the Texas Ten Commandments monument and the Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial.

“As president, I have pledged on my first day in office to rescind every single one of President Obama’s unconstitutional executive actions, and to direct every federal agency to respect and protect the religious liberty of every American,” Cruz said.

His vow is certainly welcome news to American Christians who have been subjected to eight years of vicious attacks by militant LGBT and atheist groups – not to mention the Obama administration.

“Our constitutional liberties should not be subject to the whims of the current administration, and – whether Hobby Lobby or the Little Sisters of the Poor – people of faith should not be made to bow down at the altar of political correctness,” Cruz said.

I took a look over the names of the people on his panel of policy advisors, and was surprised to see people I actually know on it. You probably know these names as well: Jay Wesley Richards, Everett Piper, Bishop Harry Jackson, Ken Blackwell, and Jason Benham. Jason Benham has had to face discrimination himself, when his show was pulled because of his Christian worldview. If I had to pick a scholar who has the same interests as me across the board, it would probably be Jay Richards. So, needless to say, I’m pretty pleased with this. Seems to me like we have been losing, losing, losing at religious liberty for the last 8 years under Obama and his Democrat allies in the House, Senate, federal government and Supreme Court. If Cruz wins, thins are going to change for us on this all-important issue. I just want to be free to be me, and not to be punished for disagreeing with other people on issues of morality and conscience.

I guess it goes without saying that Donald Trump is the polar opposite of Cruz on all of these issues. That’s why it’s important to me that someone with a record of standing up for religious liberty at the Supreme Court wins the nomination. I don’t want someone who only has talk – and Trump’s talk isn’t even that encouraging. He’s promised gay rights activists “forward motion” on gay rights. I think we’ve had enough of #NewYorkValues already under Obama, Mr. Trump.

By the way, if you’re not listening the Family Research Council Washington Watch Weekly podcast, please subscribe. They cover everything from social issues, to fiscal issues, to foreign policy. One of their frequent guests is retired Lt. General William G. Boykin, who is also on Cruz’s foreign policy advisory committee, which I blogged about before.

Related posts

Oregon bar owner forced to pay $400,000 for offending transsexuals

Young, unmarried women celebrate gay pride
Young, unmarried women celebrate gay pride

The transsexuals were hurting his business, so he asked them to please stop, or he would go out of business. But instead, they complained to the government.

The Daily Caller has the story.

Excerpt:

An Oregon bar has been ordered by a judge to pay $400,000 for telling a group of transgender customers not to come back to the bar because people were starting to think it was a “tranny bar.”

The Oregon Court of Appeals stood by a ruling Wednesday that Chris Penner, owner of the Portland bar Twilight Room Annex, had illegally discriminated against the transgender customers, Oregon Live reports.

The transgender customers were part of a group called the Rose City T-girls who went to the bar regularly on Friday nights. Penner called them and left messages asking them to stop coming.

“People are not coming in because they just don’t want to be there on a Friday night now,” Penner said in a message. “In the beginning sales were doing fine, but they’ve been on a steady decrease so I have to look at what the problem is, what the reason is and take care of it.”

An Oregon judge found that Penner had violated the Oregon Equality Act of 2007, which bans discrimination against people based on sexual orientation.

Now he has to cough up $400,000.

Two points to make about this. First, note that Oregon is one of the liberal states in this map where such things are happening:

States with non-discrimination laws
States with non-discrimination laws

These are the states where all the problems are happening with sexual minorities going to the government to compel celebration from businesses. Business owners are having to pay big fines, and/or go to jail. The judges and human rights commissions in these states are siding with the plaintiffs, and against freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and now even freedom of association.

And the Democrats want to push this up to the federal level, so that businesses can be sued in all 50 states. If they had a majority in the House, that’s exactly what they would do.

What’s interesting about this story is that now it’s not just religious people who are going to get impacted by these changes. It’s not just the florists, the bakers, the wedding photographers, the bed-and-breakfast owners. Now it’s bars. And the objection is not religious liberty or conscience. And that’s not surprising… if you looked up north to Canada, it started with the religious people, and then pretty soon bar owners, fitness club owners and other secular business owners were impacted, too.

British Columbia law society votes against accrediting evangelical law school

Map of Canada
Map of Canada

Global News reports.

Excerpt:

The Law Society of British Columbia has voted against accrediting a proposed law school at Trinity Western University.

In a binding decision, 74 per cent of lawyers voted against TWU’s program, with 8,039 ballots cast in total – more than 60 per cent of all lawyers eligible to vote.

The society says the decision means that “the proposed law school at Trinity Western University is not an approved faculty of law for the purpose of the Law Society’s admission program.”

The vote was conducted by mail and required a two-thirds majority, with a turnout more than 33.3 per cent.

CBC has the reaction from Trinity:

The president of Trinity Western University says he is uncertain if the new law school will open as scheduled in 2016 following the recent vote by the B.C. Law Society members to reject the faith-based institution.

TWU president Bob Kuhn expressed his frustration with the recent vote as he left a ratification meeting at the law society on Friday morning.

“They had to choose between the principles upon which they made the initial decision and the popularity of that decision among lawyers in the province,” says Kuhn.

“We’re disappointed of course they chose the latter. But that’s the reality of people in an elected position.”

British Columbia is now the third province, after Ontario and Nova Scotia, to officially reject the university’s law school.

Kuhn says it’s not clear whether the Christian university will move ahead with its 2016 opening date, and the school will decide in the coming weeks whether to file a judicial review.

The board members of the B.C. Law Society voted 25 to one with four abstentions to ratify the results of a referendum announced yesterday rejecting the accreditation of a Trinity Western University’s law school.

More than 8,000 of the society’s 13,530 members voted earlier this month in a special referendum to overturn the board’s decision earlier this year to accredit the faith-based law school.

Critics oppose the new law school’s accreditation because Trinity Western students must sign a Christian covenant that states sexual relations are to be confined within the bounds of a marriage between a man and a woman.

Trinity Western Law School has a rule that says that students are expect not to engage in extramarital sex – regardless of sexual orientation, which is in keeping with what the Bible teaches. And the law society has decided that this teaching should disqualify a person from practicing law. What is objectionable about this rule? Well, the people who voted against it would be condemned by it. And so they seek to remove the influence of anyone who believes in that rule. Times change, but human nature doesn’t change. If you don’t want God, you try to silence anyone who reminds you of that fact. It’s also a reminded that secularism isn’t based in anything that science tells us or history tells us or any kind of evidence. It’s about morality. It’s about denying the authority of the moral law. That’s why people reject God, and intimidate those who don’t reject God.

I think this is a good reminder to Christian parents in the United States about why it is important to have some sort of vision for your children. If we don’t get advanced degrees, then we leave these decisions to the secular bigots. We are either going to take having an influence seriously or we are going to lose the power to have an influence. Do you have a plan to counter this?