Despite winning at the Supreme Court, Colorado cake artist now faces a new lawsuit!
Jack Phillips doesn’t belong in a courtroom. He belongs at the counter of Masterpiece Cakeshop, creating beautiful, one-of-a-kind cakes for his customers.
But for more than seven years now, Jack has been pulled away from his work in order to fight for his freedom to live according to his faith.
Through it all, Jack has endured the spotlight of the national media, lost a huge portion of his business, and had to let several employees go. He’s received hateful phone calls, letters, and even death threats.
After two wins—including one at the U.S. Supreme Court—you would think it would all be over.
But now, another lawsuit has been filed against Jack.
Who is Jack Phillips?
He’s the Colorado cake artist who was at the center of one of 2018’s most-talked-about U.S. Supreme Court decisions. Although Jack won an important victory at the Supreme Court, the State of Colorado didn’t get the message. It targeted him again!
The Colorado Civil Rights Commission set its sights on Jack Phillips, targeting Jack because of his Christian faith. That was clear when it allowed other Colorado cake artists—but not Jack—to decline to create custom cakes that expressed messages that the artists considered objectionable. And it was even clearer when some members of the commission made hostile statements against Jack. One called his religious-liberty defense “a despicable piece of rhetoric” and compared him to perpetrators of the Holocaust.
The hostility toward Jack’s faith was so obvious that the United States Supreme Court rebuked the commission. In a 7-2 decision, the high court condemned Colorado’s “clear and impermissible hostility toward [Jack’s] sincere religious beliefs.” The Colorado government should’ve learned its lesson then. It didn’t.
Less than a month after the Supreme Court decision in 2018, the Colorado government targeted Jack again.
After Jack filed a lawsuit against the state to stop that prosecution, in March 2019, the state of Colorado threw in the towel.
That should have been the end of it. But now, Jack is facing another legal battle. And he once again needs an ally who will stand with him. He needs you.
Already, a generous family has answered the call and provided a $500,000 challenge grant to help defend people like Jack. Will you give today to further the impact for freedom during this very critical time?
Why was Jack targeted?
For over seven years, Jack has suffered. He faced threats and government punishment simply because he runs his business according to his faith. In 2012, Jack declined a request to create a wedding cake celebrating a same-sex marriage.
Jack explained that he would be happy to design a cake for the customers for a different event, or sell them anything else in his shop. But he does not create cakes expressing messages or celebrating events that conflict with his deeply held religious beliefs. Still, the couple filed a complaint, and the state of Colorado punished Jack for living in accordance with his faith.
“This latest lawsuit looks like yet another desperate attempt to harass cake artist Jack Phillips. And it stumbles over the one detail that matters most: Jack serves everyone; he just cannot express all messages or celebrate all events through his custom cakes.”
— Jim Campbell, Senior Counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom
In June 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court finally gave Jack justice when it handed down its decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Jack won in a 7-2 ruling that upheld his religious freedom.
In its decision, the Supreme Court made clear that the government had been hostile to Jack’s freedom of religion. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion that “the Commission’s hostility was inconsistent with the First Amendment’s guarantee that our laws be applied in a manner that is neutral towards religion.” The Supreme Court decision made it clear that the government must respect and show tolerance for people of faith and their religious beliefs.
But although the highest court in the land ruled to protect Jack’s freedom, he then faced a new threat from the state.
Jack was tested again
In June 2017, on the very day that the Supreme Court announced its decision to hear Jack’s case, an attorney called Jack’s shop asking for a custom cake. The attorney wanted a cake that would be blue on the outside and pink on the inside in order to reflect and celebrate that attorney’s transition from male to female.
"Colorado just seemed to be looking for opportunities to punish me for my faith."
– Jack Phillips
Although it seemed obvious that Jack was being targeted and set up, his shop treated the lawyer the same way that it would have treated any other customer in that situation. Jack’s shop politely declined to create a custom cake expressing a message that conflicted with his faith.
Jack has never before created a cake like the one this attorney requested. He believes that God creates us male and female. This means our sex is a God-given, biological reality, not something we choose or change.
Once again, Jack acted based on his conscience. He did not turn his back on his beliefs. And he did not give into those who would punish him for living out his faith.
Threats and harassment from the state
When Jack declined this request, the attorney filed a complaint with the same Colorado agency that prosecuted Jack before. The agency did not take a position on this complaint while the Masterpiece case was pending in the U.S. Supreme Court. But less than one month after the Supreme Court condemned the state’s anti-religious hostility toward Jack in the first case, the state agency made its first finding against Jack in this new case. Obviously not getting the Supreme Court’s message the first time, the state decided to target Jack again.
“The Supreme Court made it clear that Colorado can’t treat me worse than other cake artists because of my religious beliefs,” said Jack. “But I faced a new complaint for declining to create a custom cake that expresses a message I would not communicate for anyone—something Colorado has repeatedly said other cake artists have the freedom to do. Colorado just seemed to be looking for opportunities to punish me for my faith.”
Enough is enough!
Alliance Defending Freedom defended Jack once again. But this time, we didn’t sit back and watch the state sue Jack. We filed a lawsuit against the relevant state officials.
In March 2019, Colorado dismissed its case against Jack! With the end of that lawsuit, Jack thought he could finally go back to focusing on his work.
But that was too good to be true.
Now, the same attorney who filed the second complaint has filed another lawsuit against Jack in state court. This latest lawsuit seeks monetary damages and attorney’s fees from Jack. If successful, it could bring about financial ruin for Jack and his family.
But that shouldn’t happen because Jack serves all people—he just can’t express every message or celebrate every event that’s asked of him.
And he shouldn’t be forced to.
No American should be bullied or banished from the marketplace simply for living and working consistently with their faith. But this new lawsuit threatens to do just that.
Opponents of religious freedom want to strip away our freedom to live and work consistently with our deeply held beliefs. And they’re going to extreme lengths to punish those—like Jack—who are willing to stand for their faith.
Praise God that Jack refused to give up his freedom without a fight. He knows it’s not just his own religious freedom on the line—it’s yours too.
Thankfully, God continues to provide us with the resources we need to fight back. Through God’s blessing and your prayers and support, we are winning case after case across the nation, even at the highest court in the land.
God has rewarded Jack’s courage and your generosity with two important victories. And now, as he faces yet another challenge, it is our prayer that God will use your gift today to protect religious freedom for Jack and other people of faith who are fighting important battles across the country. God is the source of our hope. And when we stand together to defend religious freedom today, we can be victorious.
Jack had an encounter with Jesus
While the media has covered the Masterpiece case extensively, most people don’t know the real man at the center of this story.
Both Jack and his wife Debi were raised in churchgoing families, but neither put much stock in what they learned. They started their own family with zero interest in anything related to faith.
But that all changed one morning as Jack finished a late shift and started driving home.
“I just felt like God came into my car and convicted me of my sins,” he says, recalling the conversation in his heart. “It just took a few seconds. ‘You’re a sinner. You need a Savior. It’s Jesus Christ.’ I said, ‘You’re right. Let me clean up my life.’ He said, ‘You can’t.’ I said, ‘You’re right. I’m Yours.’ So I gave my life to Christ, driving home from work.”
Telling Debi wasn’t so simple. Weeks before, she’d torn into a relative who invited them to visit her church. Jack figured if she learned of his conversion, she’d leave him.
But he couldn’t sleep. The voice in his soul kept urging him to tell her. He walked out to the kitchen. “I need to tell you something,” he said. “I became a Christian today.” Tears come to his eyes, remembering what came next.
“Me, too,” she said. “Three days ago.”
“We don’t want God to be part of our lives on just Sundays. We want Him to be part of our lives every day.” — Jack Phillips
Jack wanted to honor God in his business
For Jack and Debi, becoming Christians changed everything. So when Jack started his cake shop in 1993, it was not only to provide for his family and his employees, but also to honor God through his work every day.
The very name of Jack’s shop—Masterpiece Cakeshop—not only reflects that Jack designs artistic cakes but also is a constant reminder that he operates his business in service to his ultimate Master—Jesus Christ.
“I wanted customers to say, ‘Wow! This isn’t just a bakery … it’s a place where you go to get a cake that’s art.’"
— Jack Phillips
Jack has always been an artist
When Jack opened Masterpiece Cakeshop, he wanted to use his artistic talents to design custom cakes that were both imaginative and personal.
From an early age, Jack had developed his expertise in painting, drawing, and cartooning. Now he had the opportunity to combine those gifts with his skills as a pastry chef to create beautiful works of art.
“I wanted customers to say, ‘Wow! This isn’t just a bakery … it’s a place where you go to get a cake that’s art,’” Jack says.
“Masterpiece implies the artwork aspect, where we take the different artistic tools and colors and palettes to create the artwork,” Jack says.
Still trusting in God
Jack was shocked when his business, his faith, and even his family became the subject of threats and punishment. But through it all, Jack continued to trust in God’s plan for his life and for the future of his business.
Please give as generously as you can.
Your gift today is also critical because the income we receive determines the resources that we have to fight. We want to be able to provide the strongest possible legal defense for people who are—and will continue to be—threatened with the loss of their religious freedom.
Your gift will help further the impact of a $500,000 challenge grant.
A generous family has given a challenge grant to help defend Jack and others like him.These friends have offered a $500,000 challenge grant to inspire you to join with them today and defend religious freedom.
Alliance Defending Freedom has established a record of success in defending your religious freedom. But your help is critically needed now. Because, for Jack and many others, the fight is not over yet. And they cannot fight these expensive legal battles on their own.
God has shown us time and time again that when we stand together to fight for religious freedom, we can be victorious. But protecting religious freedom isn’t “someone else’s fight.” It’s your fight. It’s our fight.
About Alliance Defending Freedom
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, nonprofit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
ADF was launched in 1994 by 35 ministry leaders, including Dr. James Dobson, Dr. D. James Kennedy, Dr. Bill Bright, and Larry Burkett.
With God’s favor and blessing, ADF has grown from the prayers of those godly leaders to become a major force in the legal battle for religious freedom, winning nearly 80% of our cases, including 11 victories at the U.S. Supreme Court since 2011.