On Monday, the Supreme Court ended its most recent session by revealing that it will determine whether a Colorado baker discriminated against a gay couple when he declined to bake a cake for their 2012 wedding in its next term.
The controversial case, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, gained national attention after bakery owner Jack Phillips declined to make a wedding cake two gay men, citing his Christian beliefs. Phillips said he didn’t refuse the couple service and offered to sell them anything in the store, but he would not actively participate in the couple’s wedding by making a cake specifically for the occasion.
With the SCOTUS is set to debate the balance between religious liberty and equal treatment under the law, Phillips spoke with Fox News about the years of harassment and threats he, his family, and his workers have faced as a result of the incident.
Phillips has grown somewhat accustomed to the lost business, hate-filled online reviews, and nasty phone calls he has faced, but it still bothers him when the vitriol meant for him is—intentionally or not—passed on to others.
“In all of this, the threats against me or disparaging comments, the worst part is that I have to answer the phone so they’re not threatening my wife or my daughter when they pick it up,” Phillips said. “They don’t wait to see who’s on the phone. You pick up the phone, they’re already talking.”
He recalls receiving two specific death threats—one involving his daughter—that were obviously troublesome, but one of the most hurtful moments came when a member of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission compared him to a Holocaust sympathizer.
“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,” Commissioner Diann Rice said in a brief. “I mean, we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination.”
The comments hit close to home for Phillips, whose father was severely injured in World War II, while part of a team that helped liberate a Nazi concentration camp.
“For her to compare standing for my faith and not making a cake to Hitler’s atrocities just is unspeakable,” Phillips said emotionally.
Attorney Kristen Waggoner, who works for the conservative nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom that represents Phillips, said that while the national outrage has been focused on the rights of the gay couple, no one seems too concerned about the rights of Christian business owners like Phillips.
“The marginalization of Christians in America today—removing them from their jobs, banning them or purging them from entire professions—that’s a step toward physical persecution,” Waggoner told Fox News.
“You see that kind of marginalization in other countries, too. It’s a more polite type of persecution, but nonetheless it is,” she continued. “It’s forcing someone to choose between their faith and making a living and supporting their family in their vocation.”
H/T: Fox News