Attorneys for Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakers, Aaron and Melissa Klein, recently announced
that they are taking their case to the Oregon Court of Appeals. If you recall, the Kleins were targeted by the government after they declined to create a cake for a same-sex wedding because of their belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries demanded that the Kleins pay $135,000 to the two women who requested the cake. That, combined with a public smear campaign, put the Kleins out of business.
Aaron and Melissa Klein are not the only cake artists to see their freedoms stripped away because of their beliefs about marriage. Alliance Defending Freedom client Jack Phillips
, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado, has faced an intense legal battle ever since he declined to design and create a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding ceremony in 2012. His case is "exhibit A" in revealing the negative effects
these three myths can have on court decisions concerning those who are taking a stand for their right to live their lives and run their businesses according to their faith.
Myth 1: Your religious beliefs don't matter and may even be used against you.
Similar to the Kleins, Jack Phillips respectfully declined to use his creative talents to promote a same-sex union because he is a Christian and believes in biblical marriage between one man and one woman. This did not sit well with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. One commissioner went so far as to state in a hearing in Jack's case that religious freedom is a “despicable piece of rhetoric” that Nazis, slaveholders, and Jack used to “hurt others.” The Commission ordered Jack to stop “discriminating,” “reeducate his staff,” and file quarterly compliance reports.
This type of rhetoric plays right into the hands of activists who claim that Christians are using religious freedom as a license to discriminate against individuals who identify as LGBT. This is simply not the case, and leads to Myth #2.
Myth 2: Even if you serve everyone who comes into your bakery—the government requires that you participate in or promote all events too—even if they violate your conscience.
People like Jack Phillips and the Kleins have no problem serving everyone who comes into their shop. What they won't do, however, is use their talents to celebrate all events or promote all messages that customers request. Freedom of expression is a protected right. A government that forces Americans to express certain messages against their conscience acts outside of the U.S. Constitution.
Unfortunately, in Jack's case, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission apparently felt that the couple's desire for Jack to make their cake was more important than Jack’s right not to lend his creative talents to an event that violates his conscience. Although Jack offered to make the couple any other type of cake, the Commission decided Jack discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation. Their ruling forces Jack to create cakes for same-sex weddings if he continues to create cakes for weddings that are consistent with his faith.
Myth 3: Creative professionals give up their rights to free expression and religious liberty the second they go into business.
Human beings are endowed with rights by the Creator. In America, these rights are protected by the Constitution. Just because you own a business and serve the public doesn't mean you lose your religious freedom. Like the Kleins, Jack Phillips is an upstanding small business owner who has run his business for over 20 years in accordance with his faith. Now, the state is telling him that he can't do it anymore—but the state is wrong.
“Americans are guaranteed the freedom to live and work consistent with their faith," says ADF Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. "Government has a duty to protect people’s freedom to follow their beliefs personally and professionally rather than force them to adopt the government’s views."
The good news is, despite what some misguided government officials and a small, vocal minority want you to believe, these negative views toward Christian bakers are extreme and out of step with what the majority of Americans think. Even LGBT bakers and advocates have condemned rulings against Christian cake artists in the U.S.
and around the world
because of the clear violation of their freedoms. That's why it is imperative for all of us to join the conversation and debunk these myths.
Understanding the Rights of Christian Creative Professionals
The movement to force people of faith to violate their conscience must be stopped. Christian creative professionals are on the frontlines of this battle and need to be prepared. That's why Alliance Defending Freedom developed Create Freely, a new resource made specifically for Christian creative professionals, which includes practical steps they can take to protect themselves.
Get Your Free Copy of Create Freely