When Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in suburban Denver, tried to deny Charlie Craig and David Mullins, a gay couple, service for their wedding because of his religious beliefs, he was ordered by a Colorado court to create cakes for other same-sex couples and charged with anti-gay discrimination. Then, in a reversal of the lower court’s decision, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Phillips, stating he was a victim of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s anti-religious bias, which resulted in the violation of his First Amendment rights. But the jury is still out on gay rights. Due to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s ostensible lack of religious impartiality, the Supreme Court did not rule on the broader issue concerning anti-discrimination laws, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech.
And even though the Supreme Court sided with Phillips, let me be perfectly clear. The Supreme Court ruled Jack Phillips’ First Amendment rights were violated but in no way was his religious freedom impaired.
“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”
So written in the Bible are the red-letter words of Jesus Christ (Matthew 22:21). And this short and hotly contested passage reflects an early, divinely sourced version of the secular values we now find enshrined in our Constitution. They are values that guarantee both our religious and personal freedoms––values that are slipping away far too quickly.
Today, “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” means that when our government issues a business license, the business owner automatically agrees to operate according to our government’s laws. For United States citizens, this includes the separation of church and state––debate over. Accordingly, for-profit businesses and nonprofit organizations should not be allowed to refuse service to gays, lesbians, or anyone else within a protected class. Why? Because Caesar’s law, in this country, is constrained by the 14th Amendment, which states that “no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” The Colorado court had it right when they held that Philips discriminated against Charlie Craig and David Mullins and infringed upon gay rights.
So, what’s the solution? First, instantly revoke the business licenses from those who refuse to recognize the supremacy of the 14th Amendment when it comes to questions of discrimination. The minute a business decides to discriminate in any way, shape, or form, its license should be immediately withdrawn.
George Freeman, Chaplain
Universal Life Church