SCOTUS Decision Fails To Protect Religious Americans and Free Speech

Unique skills of artistic expression come packaged in many forms and in different ways. Some people possess unique skills relating to music. Many others have the ability to draw, and some have the ability to paint pictures with words. I know many who are creative with their hands and can virtually make something with very primitive materials in a relatively short amount of time. Artistic expression is the skill of an individual to create things that reflect what they value most. Most artistic expression comes from what people are most passionate about, what means the most to them. Oftentimes, artistic skill is used in business to create wealth, other times it is used for leisure. I do not have to agree with the artistic expression of another, nor the values portrayed in the art or the thing created. However, I must respect everyone’s right to have their creative expression influenced by what they value most as well as their right to express it. Most people would agree that I have no right to tell the song writer that he must write songs that reflect my values. On the contrary, the musician creates music that reflect his worldview and value system and I as a consumer, choose whether I want to listen in. I tend to listen to musicians who reflect my values and beliefs, and I tend to stay away from musicians that offend my worldview. This is how a free society works. The artist has the freedom to create, I have the freedom to engage or disengage.

All of this applies unless you’re a Christian attempting to live out your conscience before God and men, applying your Christian values to your business practices. In 2012 a same-sex couple visited Masterpiece Cakeshop, a bakery in Colorado, to make inquiries about ordering a cake for their wedding reception. The store owner, Jack Phillips, told the same-sex couple that he would not create a cake for their wedding celebration because of his religious opposition to same-sex marriages—marriages that Colorado did not then recognize—but that he would sell them other baked goods, e.g., birthday cakes. The couple filed a charge with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission (Commission) pursuant to the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA), which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in a “place of business engaged in any sales to the public and any place offering services . . . to the public.”[1]

The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of the cakeshop owner, however, there are some things that need to be highlighted:

  1. The Colorado Courts and Colorado Civil Rights Commission Possessed Anti-Religious Bias.

Justice Robert Kennedy exposed this bias in his opinion, explaining that the CCRC violated the Free exercise clause, “When the Colorado Civil Rights Commission considered this case, it did not do so with the religious neutrality that the Constitution requires.”[2]

Some of the commissioners at the Commission’s formal, public hearings endorsed the the view that religious beliefs cannot legitimately be carried into the public sphere or commercial domain, disparaged Phillips’ faith as despicable and characterized it as merely rhetorical, and compared his invocation of his sincerely held religious beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust.[3] The continued opinion of the SCOTUS states, “One commissioner suggested that Phillips can believe “what he wants to believe,” but cannot act on his religious beliefs “if he decides to do business in the in  the state.” In other words, keep your Jesus in your home, heart, and pew, but don’t bring that Nazi trash into the public arena or the marketplace. What was once considered the morally superior view just 10-15 years ago now is equated with Nazism. The Supreme Court was right to recognize the unconstitutional, religious hostility possessed by those who are supposed to be the guardians of civil rights.

  1. SCOTUS Made a Good Decision with A Bad Argument.

The argument provided by the court that resulted in the decision was not necessarily a win for religious liberty. The court ruled in favor of the Phillips because of the CCRC failed to be religiously neutral and because Phillips at the time was lawfully declining to participate in what was illegal activity. Conveniently, the evidence of anti-religious bias went unnoticed by the Lower Courts of Colorado. Same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states in the U.S. So, what now? The Court ignored the primary issues of the case, whether non-discrimination laws could violate free-speech. Whether, for example, a gay song-writer could be forced to perform for a Christian Evangelical, or whether First Amendment free association rights could be completely overthrown by reference to nondiscrimination laws — whether any business could be told to serve anyone for any reason at any time.[4] As Ben Shapiro put it, “…The court ruled that the baker didn’t have to bake the cake because the members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission were unduly mean.”[5]

In any case, in order for any person to use their skills to create things that reflect what they value most, the First Amendment must exist. Without the First Amendment, the ability to have meaningful art and creative expression will be lost to a society that prizes utilitarian oneness and political correctness over individual freedoms and liberty. It is on the basis of the First Amendment that creative freedom and religious expression falls or stands. Unfortunately, the recent Supreme Court Ruling in MASTERPIECE CAKESHOP v. COLORADO CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION did not protect religious Americans nor freedom of speech.

 

[1] https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/16-111_new_d1of.pdf

[2] IBID

[3] Ibid.

[4] https://www.dailywire.com/news/31508/supreme-court-be-polite-when-you-violate-others-ben-shapiro

[5] Ibid.

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