Every Monday, I will profile the “why” and “how” business trailblazers are seeking to advance God’s Kingdom in the marketplace and stand firm in a culture of compromise.
Some of these companies employ hundreds (even thousands) of people, making a powerful and positive difference for Him within their spheres of influence. Of course, size is not a measure of value or impact. Because one small business can set far-reaching precedents… for now and forever.
As in the case of today’s profile…
Masterpiece Cakeshop is now in the national spotlight, in a high-profile U.S. Supreme Court case that may well set religious liberty precedents impacting millions of other businesses and people.
First, a little background…
… adapted from the website of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the lawfirm representing this company — https://www.adflegal.org/detailspages/case-details/masterpiece-cakeshop-v.-craig.
Jack Phillips, a Colorado native and cake artist, opened Masterpiece Cakeshop as a family-owned business in 1993. Joyfully serving the community of Lakewood, Colorado, Jack has been part of many families’ major milestone events — from weddings through school graduations.
As a Christian, Jack brings a sense of mission to the business. “[God] has chosen this bakery to do a lot of different things that we had never planned and that we would never want to stop,” he said. Jack’s faith motivates how he operates his business, but, because of his faith, he would one day find out that the State of Colorado could force him to strip every ounce of his faith out of his business.
In July 2012, two men came into Jack’s cakeshop requesting a wedding cake for their same-sex ceremony. In an exchange lasting only a few seconds, Jack declined the request, saying he could not design cakes for same-sex wedding ceremonies. Jack offered to make the couple any other type of baked good or sell them a pre-made cake, but, because of his faith, he could not design a cake promoting a same-sex ceremony.
Infuriated, the two men stormed out of the store. Shortly after, Jack started to receive phone calls from people threatening and harassing him because of his decision to not use his artistic talents to design a cake celebrating the couple’s same-sex marriage. Instead of responding in anger, Jack saw the calls as an invitation to prayer: “‘The phone calls give me an opportunity to pray for people I wouldn’t know.”
ADF and allied attorneys came to Jack’s defense when the couple filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for sexual orientation discrimination. An administrative judge ruled against Jack in December 2013 and ordered him and his staff to either violate Jack’s faith by designing custom wedding cakes that celebrate same-sex marriages or stop designing all wedding cakes (approximately 40% of Jack’s business). In addition, Jack and his staff were ordered to go through a “re-education” program and file quarterly “compliance” reports telling the government every time that Jack declines a custom cake request and explaining the reasons why.
In July 2016, ADF petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to take up Jack’s case. On June 26, 2017, the Court granted review. Oral arguments will take place on December 5, 2017.
Tune in here Wednesday for more details on this precedent-setting case. Meanwhile…
What do you think of Jack’s position? And/or Colorado’s response? Please post your comments below.
Diana Furr… a.k.a., Abba’s Girl
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