In a 7-2 ruling, the United States Supreme Court has decided that Colorado baker Jack Phillips’ civil rights were violated when the Colorado Civil Rights Commission apparently “ridiculed” his religious beliefs for refusing to bake a gay couple’s wedding cake. It may seem that Phillips’ religious objections to gay marriage trumped David Mullins and Charlie Craig’s civil rights as a gay couple. But had the commission not gotten “hostile,” it might’ve gone the other way.
Here, however, is what the “offending” commissioner actually said:
“I would also like to reiterate what we said in the hearing or the last meeting. Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust, whether it be—I mean, we—we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to—to use their religion to hurt others.”
I suppose you could read this as prejudicial against Phillips. But I think the commissioner’s point that religion can be more hurtful than inclusive is valid. And where do you draw the line? Why not ask couples if they’ve lived together before marriage or committed adultery or have ever been divorced before letting them place a cake order? Doesn’t the Bible condemn these acts? And why stop there?
Plus, Phillips’ argument that he is an artist and therefore entitled to express himself – or not – as he sees fit is bogus and offensive to me as a longtime cultural writer. Art is about nothing but itself, whereas cake is meant to be consumed. Baking may be a glorious artisanal vocation and avocation, but it has a functionality that is extraneous to art and thus excludes it from fine art.
Frankly, there’s always another bakery. But that isn’t really the issue, is it? Rather, this opens up a Pandora’s box of private businesses objecting to everything on religious grounds.
Still, the rejected are free to take their business elsewhere, because when you have stringent beliefs, you’ll find that you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.