The most famous bakery in Lakewood, Colo., is focusing on birthday cakes for a while. In 2012, Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig walked into Masterpiece Cakeshop to purchase a cake for their wedding reception. The owner refused to serve them because they are a same-sex couple.
Jack Phillips’ lawyers will soon be before the Supreme Court. Their argument is that Christians should be allowed to discriminate against those who do not agree with their interpretation of the Bible. Phillips is now a favorite of the right-wing for standing up for Christian business owners’ right to say who should be married.
The Colorado Civil Rights Commission thinks it would be simpler to treat everyone equally under the law. They argue that acting like a bigot is not a right, and that since Phillips’ shop serves the public he has to serve all the public.
Most assume that the Supreme Court’s job in this case is to decide if religious beliefs are a license to discriminate, but there is another way to look at this. If Phillips is really committed to biblical laws, then he should be committed to all of them. Instead of asking if it should be legal to run a heterosexuals only bakery, we should ask who else a biblical legalist should turn away. Refusing to make devil’s food cakes for gay couples may not be enough.
Should Masterpiece Cakeshop make cakes for the weddings of divorced people? Jesus never mentions gay people, but he says, “Whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery (Matthew 19:9).” If Phillips is claiming a Christian exemption from U.S. law, how can the baker enforce shaky interpretations of a few obscure texts and ignore the words of Christ?
Should Masterpiece Cakeshop make cakes for people who are overweight? “The glutton shall come to poverty” (Proverbs 23:21). Should the bakery be encouraging sinful behavior?
Should Masterpiece Cakeshop make cakes for people with tattoos? “You shall not … tattoo any marks upon you” (Leviticus 19:28). Recognizing tattooed customers is easier than recognizing gay customers.
Should Masterpiece Cakeshop make cakes for witches? “You shall not permit a female sorcerer to live” (Exodus 22:18). The bakery’s order form could include the question, “Are you a female sorcerer?”
Should Masterpiece Cakeshop make cakes for people who work on the Sabbath? “Whoever does any work on [the Sabbath] shall be put to death” (Exodus 35:2). This suggests you should not make a cake for them, though it might be OK if the cake is for a last meal.
Should Masterpiece Cakeshop make cakes for people who wear jewelry (1 Timothy 2:9), own a gun (Isaiah 2:4), or say the Pledge of Allegiance (Matthew 5:34-35)?
The Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission on Dec. 5. The Court should not let prejudiced people use the name Christian as an excuse to act in opposition to God’s love. Christians should be the first in line to argue for equality for all.
When Christians go to court to defend their own bigotry, they should be forced to admit the inconsistency of what they claim to believe. Citizens are allowed to have deeply held beliefs that make no sense, but citizens should not get to discriminate.
Religious freedom is the freedom to worship without fear of persecution. Religious freedom is not the freedom to decide who gets angel food cake.