Tag Archives: Religious Liberty

Frank Turek lectures on the case against same-sex marriage

About the speaker Frank Turek:

Dr. Frank Turek is a dynamic speaker and award-winning author or coauthor of four books: Stealing from God:  Why Atheists Need God to make their Case, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, Correct, Not Politically Correct and Legislating Morality. As the President of CrossExamined.org, Frank presents powerful and entertaining evidence for Christianity at churches, high schools and at secular college campuses that often begin hostile to his message. He has also debated several prominent atheists including Christopher Hitchens and David Silverman, president of American Atheists.

Frank hosts an hour-long TV program each week called I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist that is broadcast Wednesday nights on DirecTV Channel 378 (the NRB Network). His radio program called CrossExamined with Frank Turek airs on 122 stations every Saturday morning at 10 a.m. eastern and is available continuously on the free CrossExamined App.

A former aviator in the US Navy, Frank has a master’s degree from the George Washington University and a doctorate from Southern Evangelical Seminary.  He and his wife, Stephanie, are blessed with three grown sons.

Frank Turek is one of my favorite speakers, and I admire him for being willing to take a public stand on controversial issues like gay marriage. He’s actually had to pay a price for that in his professional life, and I blogged about that before.

Here’s the lecture on gay marriage, featuring Christian apologist Frank Turek.

Outline:

Outline of Frank Turek's lecture on same sex marriage
Outline of Frank Turek’s lecture on same sex marriage

Introduction:

  • how to present your case against marriage safely
  • Christians are required to go beyond tolerance
  • loving another person can mean opposing the person when they want to do something wrong, even if they hate you
  • what did Jesus say about marriage? (see Matt 19:4-6)
  • what did Jesus say about sexual morality? (Matt 15, Matt 19)

Summary:

  • the same-sex marriage debate is about whether to compel people who disagree with the gay lifestyle to validate and normalize it
  • P1: the government has an interest in marriage because it perpetuates and stabilizes society – this is the purpose of marriage
  • P2-4: government can take 3 kinds of stances towards behaviors: promote, permit or prohibit
  • government promotes behaviors when it has an interest in them
  • same-sex relationships should be permitted, but not promoted
  • Q1: if same-sex marriage had serious negative consequences, would you reconsider their position?
  • Q2: are heterosexual relationships the same as homosexual relationships?
  • Q3: what would society be like if everyone married according to the natural marriage definition: one woman, one man, for life?
  • Q4: what would society be like if everyone married according to the same-sex marriage definition: man/man and woman/woman?
  • Should Christians care about law and politics? or should they just preach the gospel?
  • They should care because people often get their cues about what is moral and immoral based on what is legal and illegal
  • Many of the social problems we see today can be traced back to problems with marriage and family
  • Children do much better when they have a relationship with their mother and their father
  • Same-sex marriage necessarily destroys the relationship between a child and its mother or its father
  • When a country embraces same-sex marriage, it reinforces the idea that marriage is not about making and raising children
  • same-sex marriage shifts the focus away from the needs of the children to the feelings of desires of the selfish adults
  • does homosexuality impose any health and mental health risks?
  • what has the impact of legalizing same-sex marriage been in Massachusetts to individuals, schools, businesses and charities?
  • how same-sex marriage poses a threat to religious liberty
  • how should you respond to the view that homosexuality is genetic?

And at the very end, he shows this short video, which is only 5 minutes and explains the logic of opposing the redefinition of marriage:

My biggest concern is religious liberty, and we are seeing how same-sex marriage has proven to be incompatible with religious liberty. But I also care about children… I want them to have mothers and fathers who put their needs first. Marriage is about a commitment – it is the subjugation of feelings and desires to responsibilities and obligations. It is a promise. A promise to commit to love your spouse and children regardless of feelings and desires. It requires more self-denial, self-control and self-sacrifice. Not less.

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.

Secular leftists demand Christian student senator resign for disagreeing with them

Isabella Chow, surrounded by secular leftist fascists
Isabella Chow, a Christian woman encircled by secular leftist fascists

I had to blog about this story about a tough girl at UC Berkeley who is taking a lot of heat for her Christian beliefs. It would have been easier for her to keep them private. But they forced her to vote, and she had to respect her conscience. Campus Reform posted an article about the facts of the case.

It says:

Isabella Chow is an elected student senator who represents the Associated Students of the University of California party Student Action. But after choosing to abstain from voting on a resolution to oppose the recent Title IX changes proposed by President Donald Trump, Chow’s own party disavowed her.

The proposed Title IX changes lack a legal definition of gender, effectively limiting “gender identity” to one’s physical sex, according to the Wall Street Journal.  The resolution before the Berkeley student government was a statement of opposition to these proposed changes, intended to display solidarity with members of the LGBT community, specifically “transgender, intersex, nonbinary and gender nonconforming students,” as reported by the independent student newspaper the Daily Californian.

That article was from November 9th, but The College Fix had some news in their article posted Monday:

Chow has faced intense backlash over her position, with numerous individuals slamming her on social media (one commenter on Facebook called Chow a “mental imbecile”) as well as in person. The response has been so hostile that Chow has made changes to how she gets around campus. “I don’t feel safe walking alone to class and take precautions not to walk alone at night,” Chow said.

Chow provided The Fix with multiple Internet postings openly accusing her of bigotry and hatred. One, from student senator Teddy Lake, said that Chow’s Christian beliefs “were not beliefs at all— they were hateful prejudices that deserve nothing less than the strongest condemnation.”

Several posts on the website Reddit were filled with angry comments. One commenter accused Chow of “sanctimonious holier-than-thou bullsh*t,” and another said: “She’s a horrible person.”

The editors of The Daily Californian published an editorial calling for Chow’s resignation, accusing her of “publicly dismissing the identities of individuals on campus” and “eras[ing] and dehuman[izing]” numerous Berkeley students.

“Chow used her powerful public platform to negate entire experiences and identities. UC Berkeley students cannot allow and accept leaders like Chow to make decisions on their behalf,” the editors wrote.

The campus’s Queer Alliance Resource Center, meanwhile, produced a statement in opposition to Chow.

“Her ‘love’ is no protection against the current oppression faced by trans, intersex, and non-binary individuals. Instead, her ‘love’ pads her condescending disapproval towards us and reminds us of our history of surviving so-called ‘love.’ Senator Chow’s ‘love’ is not of warmth and compassion but of judgement and disapproval. We cannot sit idly by while Chow sits on moral high ground casting moral judgements,” the statement reads.

The Center also produced a petition calling on Chow to resign.

[…]At a student senate meeting last week, numerous members of the Berkeley community publicly expressed their opinions, almost all of them explicitly critical of Chow.

“I condemn Isabella Chow’s words, not because they’re different from mine, but because they are dangerous, and inherently prejudiced. I encourage Senator Chow to reach a dialogue with queer-affirming Christian communities that LGBT existence is compatible with the love of God,” one student said.

Another attendee said to Chow: “Your Christian morals should not be in our student government or for any government; and if you cannot separate your religion from your job as a senator, please resign.”

Another accused Chow of “speaking words of hate, mashed under the name of love.”

Chow eventually approached The Daily Californian asking if the publication would run either a statement or an op-ed by her. The Daily refused to publish either.

She has sunk a ton of money into her education, and now she is at the mercy of far-left professors and TAs. For her sake, I hope that she is working toward a STEM degree. It will help her to find work going forward. This is definitely going to affect her whole life going forward – a lot of big companies aren’t going to hire someone like her who refuses to go along with the LGBT agenda. I hope she’s prepared for that.

Resiliency

I was watching this video from Prager University on resiliency, and it was talking about several ways that a person can make themselves defensible against unexpected setbacks.

Watch:

I think it’s important for Christians to think carefully about what they will study and where they work. Having a good education and money makes it easier to deal with threats like the ones arrayed against Isabella. It allows you to find work more easily, to move if you have to, etc. It’s important to train your character by studying hard things, doing hard things and finishing what you start. Having a platform to tell your story is important. Having a network of accomplished friends helps, too.

If you marry, then marry someone with courage and strength, who will stand by you, and help you to persist. It’s a serious mistake to marry someone who doesn’t understand Christianity as service, and who doesn’t have any strength to deploy in case of a crisis. If you’re being attacked, you want a stable partner who has strength in practical areas, and informed convictions. Not someone who is drowning in sin, narcissism, student loan debt, peer pressure, drug addiction, reckless thrill-seeking, etc.

Some jobs and cities have a lot of anti-Christian progressives. It’s easier to avoid those if you have a good education, practical skills and a good resume. Often, the influence you have is going to be determined by the decisions you make to make yourself resilient. My ambition has always been to have an influence without allowing the secular left to easily silence me. If they know where I work, and where I live, then they can put pressure on me to recant my views. Conversely, if I am careful about education, career and finance, then I can put pressure on them to back off if they challenge me.

As we saw when fascists broke down the door at Tucker Carlson’s home, we are living in a time of secular leftist facism. And this fascism is defended even by the elites in the mainstream media.

Here’s a concept every Christian should know that people in information security speak about… being a “hard target”:

hard-target is a person who, due to their actions and/or appropriate protective measures, is able to minimize existing risks and thus most likely represents an unattractive target. Originally, these two terms come from the military and relate to protected and unprotected targets.

The Christian life is a lot more strategic than churches teach us. We’re obsessed with compassion, feelings, and not being judged. Instead, we should be focused on having an influence and making ourselves into hard targets for the secular culture. We have a sanitized view of how sin corrupts non-Christians, allowing them to do unspeakable evils to Christians who merely disagree with them. We think that secular leftists will behave like moral people, as if denying God’s existence makes no difference to a person’s ability to be moral. We think that nihilists will respect our basic human rights – human rights that they can’t even rationally ground in their worldview. And we think that God’s job is to protect us and make us feel good no matter how unprepared and reckless we are.

If you want to have an influence, then you need to make every decision wisely, in order to prepare for the day when your cover is blown behind enemy lines. Remember, with respect to God’s purposes in the world, your happiness is expendable.

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.

Supreme Court sides with Christian baker against secular left fascists and ACLU

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

On Monday, the Supreme Court finally ruled on one of the cases where Christian bakers were persecuted by gay couples and gay rights activitists who wanted to use the power of the government to control the behavior of Christians. Basically, the gay rights activists wanted Christians to act like non-Christians on moral issues. They were using the power of the state to force their morality on Christians. It was the height of intolerance and bigotry.

Here is the first article from Fox News that I’m linking to, written by Kristen Waggoner. Kristen is lead counsel on this Colorado case, as well as the Washington state case against the florist Barronelle Stutzman.

Excerpt:

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of cake artist Jack Phillips, saying the Colorado Civil Rights Commission unjustly punished him when it ordered Jack to create a custom wedding cake celebrating a same-sex wedding. As the court said, “[t]he neutral and respectful consideration to which Phillips was entitled was compromised here …. The Civil Rights Commission’s treatment of his case has some elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs that motivated his objection.”

You’ll hear a lot of lies about the case from the mainstream media.

Here’s the truth:

Jack has never refused to serve any person based on who they are or what they look like. Everyone is welcome in his shop—even the two men who sued him. In fact, he told those men that, even though he couldn’t create a custom cake to celebrate a same-sex marriage, he would be happy to sell them anything else in his shop or design a cake for them for a different occasion.

Over the years, Jack has declined to create many custom cakes because of the messages they express. If you’re looking for a ghoulish Halloween cake, a boozy bachelorette-themed dessert, or a cake celebrating a divorce—Masterpiece Cakeshop isn’t your place.

Here’s what the Colorado Civil Rights Commission ordered Jack to do:

The commission’s order requires cake artist Jack Phillips and his staff at Masterpiece Cakeshop to design cakes for same-sex celebrations, forces him to re-educate his staff that Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act means that artists must endorse same-sex marriage regardless of their religious beliefs, compels him to implement new policies to comply with the commission’s order, and requires him to file quarterly “compliance” reports for two years. The reports must include the number of patrons declined a wedding cake or any other product and state the reason for doing so to ensure he has fully eliminated his religious beliefs from his business.

Here’s an example of the hostility to Christianity of the Colorado commissioners:

Commissioner Diann Rice makes the following comment just before denying Phillips’ request to temporarily suspend the commission’s re-education order:

“I would also like to reiterate what we said in…the last meeting [concerning Jack Phillips]. 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… I mean, we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use – to use their religion to hurt others.”

The Commissioner certainly wasn’t shy about ramming her secular leftist ideology down Jack’s throat, and with the full power of the secular state behind it. But she wasn’t willing to allow Jack to live according to his beliefs. He had to be forced to accept her beliefs and her morality. At gunpoint, really.

Another prominent defender of liberty is David French, who used to work for the ADF, and is now at ACLJ. He wrote about the case for National Review. He addresses the all-important question about what we can expect from future rulings. Will this decision apply broadly or narrowly?

He writes:

[…][T]he Court focused on Phillips’s second claim, holding (by a 7–2 margin) that Colorado violated his right to free exercise of religion when it held him in violation of state public-accommodation law. Justice Kennedy focused on two critical aspects of the case to support his ruling. He first condemned anti-religious comments made by state commissioners during the hearings before the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. He especially singled out a commissioner’s claim that “freedom of religion” has been used to “justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history,” including slavery and the Holocaust. The commissioner called Phillips’s religious-freedom claim “one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use.”

[…]Had Kennedy stopped his opinion at that point, Phillips’s victory would have been important, but profoundly limited. The obvious response would be for the commissioners to reconsider the case, cleanse their rhetoric of outright hostility, deliver the same result on a cleaner record, and put the more difficult free-speech claim right back in the Court’s lap. But Kennedy didn’t stop. He found a separate ground for concluding that Colorado was motivated by anti-religious animus, and that separate ground will make it difficult for states to take aim at “offensive” religious exercise, even when it occurs in a commercial context.

It turns out that the state of Colorado had protected the right of bakers to refuse to create cakes with explicitly anti-gay messages.

[…]All bakers — regardless of religion — have the same rights and obligations. At the same time, gay and religious customers enjoy equal rights under state public-accommodation statutes. Any ruling the commission imposes will have to apply on the same basis to different litigants, regardless of faith and regardless of the subjective “offensiveness” of the message.

This is a severe blow to the state. It hoped for a ruling declaring that the cake wasn’t protected expression and a free-exercise analysis that simply ratified the public-accommodation law as a “neutral law of general applicability.” Such a ruling would have permitted the favoritism on display in this case. It would have granted state authorities broad discretion to elevate favored messages and suppress dissent, all while operating under the fiction that they weren’t suppressing protected expression or religious exercise.

It was an excellent idea for whoever asked for those anti-gay cakes to do that so that we would know that the law was not being enforced equally. Because of that, we got a broad ruling that will be applicable elsewhere. It’s not everything we wanted, but it’s more than I expected.