Home | About | Donate

The Christian and the Cake


Jack should go find Jill, and be required to close his bakery. After all this has become the Fascist States of Amerikkka.


NYC is right, Jack should post a terms of service or right to refuse service at this bakery based on his stated belief system. In this way he can avoid the appearance of discrimination. Patrons could then decide if his services meet their requirements without exclusion.


I don’t know what the source of all your knowledge about the artistic angle might be, but it certainly wasn’t part of the OP article. Religion was, though the writer misrepresented the issues somewhat by couching his argument in an area of which he was ignorant.

I guess we’ll all see what the SCOTUS makes of it.


Mr. Brauchli, it might behoove you to get your facts straight about the religion you wish to critique if you desire anyone who holds to that religion to actually pay attention to you.

The greatest commandment to love God with all your heart and the second which is like unto it, to love your neighbor as yourself, are not part of the ten commandments. The ten, as Protestants understand them, are:

  1. Have no other Gods before Yahweh
  2. Don’t use images of Yahweh to worship Yahweh
  3. Don’t use Yahweh’s name in vain
  4. Keep the Sabbath
  5. Honor your parents
  6. Don’t kill
  7. Don’t commit adultery
  8. Don’t steal
  9. Don’t give false witness
  10. Don’t covet what others have, including their wives

The two great commandments are summations of the entire 10 commandments mixed with interpretation. That is the idea that having no other Gods and not using images, plus not misusing Yahweh’s name and keeping Yahweh’s Sabbath are really specifics about loving God. The other commandments are specifics about loving our neighbor.

So get your facts straight.

It would help to do this to make the argument to Christians, as Jesus places the two great commandments as not just ways to understand the ten, but as the real heart of religion. So loving your neighbor as yourself should take precedence over everything else and it is HOW we love Yahweh. You might actually convince a conservative Christian to rethink things if you get your facts down right.


That was very well put, thank you. I stand corrected, and I appreciate your taking the time to explain something that I evidently was missing.


As far as I can tell from the link, the only artistic expression here is that the cake would be used by a gay couple instead of a heterosexual couple.

It doesn’t seem his object is the decorations were promotions about gay marriage but the typical decorations for a wedding cake, which meant he was, in his view, using his artistry to create a wedding cake that would be used in a gay wedding. But the cake itself would be no different than one made for a het wedding.

I definitely understand why a couple want a custom cake. They wanted a cake baked fresh for them to use for their wedding.

If Jack’s arguments holds then couldn’t photographers, tux renters, florists, wedding dress makers, printers, and anyone else involved in a wedding make the same argument? If it works for a wedding of gay people, what about inter racial weddings? What about weddings of people who worship more than one god? What about some strange, conservative Catholic who thinks only Catholic weddings are real marriages because it’s a sacrament, so they won’t make cakes for Baptists? If it’s true for weddings, why isn’t it true for anything that in some sense might promote a gay life?

No, I won’t paint your house because I’m an artist in my painting and painting your house would promote a gay family. No, I won’t mow your yard because I’m an artist.

Why stop there? No, I won’t teach your children because you are pagans and I’m an artist in my teaching. No, you can’t eat in my restaurant because you’re a child of Canaan (that is Black) and cooking is my art. No, I don’t have to operate on your hernia because you’re a woman and you got the hernia by working outside the home and my surgery is my art.

What if the design included the names of the couple and that’s his objection? Well does he realize that almost every name one sex has could be the name of another sex?

So he wouldn’t bake a cake that said “Bill & Bob” if both Bill and Bob are male, but what if Bill is female, like in the last season of Dr. Who? Then he’d bake it and design it? It’s not what he designs but WHO uses it that disturbs him.

That is discrimination by definition.


So go write your own article about the artistic argument, or maybe just listen to the oral arguments on Tuesday. But this article is about the religion angle, and it’s misinformed. It is not a platform for you to talk about other issues.


Phillips’ process involved extended interviews with the couples, hours of design work and usually a rendering in watercolors before he even starts the physical cake. He considers himself a full participant in the event, and in his view, a crucial part of the process is being moved and inspired by his spiritual Master. I don’t have to agree with his beliefs in order to recognize that they are sincere, and I can see how he would see it as a corruption of his process, a misuse of his gift, and an affront to his very source of inspiration to be a part of anything that goes against the Bible, as he understands it. (He also will not do works themed for other religions. He faces losing that option as well.)

“the cake itself would be no different than one made for a het wedding.”

The cake the couple ultimately obtained, from another source, was a flamboyant rainbow cake. Presumably they bought the sort of cake they were wanting. You can try to claim rainbows have no special significance, meaning, or message where gays are concerned, but I think pretty much everyone knows that’s not the case.

But even if some of Jack Phillips’ custom cake designs have made no overt reference to the gender (or religion) of the couple, the process by which he arrived at those was infused with and guided by his deeply held Christian beliefs. So that brings it back to the question at issue. Do artists who accept custom commissions retain their rights of free expression and rights of association, or is their artistry a public accommodation in the same way a grocery or hardware store is?

“I definitely understand why a couple want a custom cake. They wanted a cake baked fresh for them to use for their wedding.”

They could have bought a fresh off-the-rack cake from Jack’s bakery shortly before the event, but what they wanted was his signature custom wedding cake artistry that he had earned a reputation for–one made specifically for their occasion according to their tastes and preferences.

“If Jack’s arguments holds then couldn’t photographers, tux renters, florists, wedding dress makers, printers, and anyone else involved in a wedding make the same argument?”

Photographers who offer a standard wedding package–no. Art photographers who work on a custom commission basis, yes. A specialty baby photographer, for example, might have to discontinue engaging in age discrimination if her custom work is ruled a public accommodation.

Businesses that rent tuxes off the rack, no. There’s no artistic expression in that. Florists, for their general arrangements, no. Custom floral artists, yes. Dress vendors and dress manufacturers, no. Custom fashion designers, yes. Printers, no. Calligraphers and graphic design artists, possibly.

“If it works for a wedding of gay people, what about inter racial weddings?”

If there is some germane reason it would infringe on artistic freedom, yes, that could happen. And I have heard of portrait artists who specialize in certain races. They don’t do other races, not out of bigotry, but because they don’t feel they can do justice to races outside of their oeuvre. Clearly some instances of racial discrimination will not be justifiable on artistic or free expression grounds, but I think some could be.

Or going the other way, a ruling against Jack would require that custom art, as a public accommodation, would have to be created on equal terms for inter-species weddings. Zoophilia, after all, is a recognized sexual orientation. And it wouldn’t matter that inter-species marriages aren’t legal. Same sex marriages were not legal in Colorado either when this cake incident occurred. (Which means the state of Colorado has held that Jack Phillips violated the law for discriminating in the same way Colorado was doing at the time, and for not holding his private custom cake design services to a public accommodation standard more stringent than public government itself was doing.)

“What about weddings of people who worship more than one god?”

Yes. There are definitely artists who do only Christian-themed artwork, and some of them do custom work on commissions. A ruling against Jack could mean that if they accept custom Christian-themed art commissions, they could be legally compelled to accept art commissions themed for other religions.

“If it’s true for weddings, why isn’t it true for anything that in some sense might promote a gay life?”

It would be. Could also be be some other sexual orientation, or a specific subset. Homosexual incest for example. (And yes, for whatever reason, there are gays who are vehemently opposed to gay incest. Go figure.) Could also be about religion. So long as it concerns custom commissions of artistic expressions, it would cover any representations or associations the artists find objectionable or contrary to their views or values, or outside their artistic purview, or incompatible with their artistic process.

“No, I won’t mow your yard because I’m an artist.”

A topiary artist, perhaps. But a ruling in favor of freedom of artistic expression here will not mean that all standards of art will go on the trash heap and that any activity would therefore have to be accepted as an art form. There’s no way any ruling here could have that effect.

“Why stop there? No, I won’t teach your children because you are pagans and I’m an artist in my teaching.”

A teacher or tutor could certainly decline a private position which required them to teach things contrary to their beliefs, because that’s already the case right now. And that, too, is based on free expression grounds.

“No, you can’t eat in my restaurant because you’re a child of Canaan (that is Black) and cooking is my art.”

That also is never going to fly. You are trying to find far-fetched examples to stretch it to the breaking point of absurdity, but that could just as easily be done in the other direction. But the absurd examples are mostly irrelevant, and we aren’t going to throw away our standards of artistic expression and standards for reasonable discrimination. The case here is important because it is right at the collision point between civil rights and freedom of expression, and whichever way the ruling goes, it will have some far-reaching implications. And it is compelling and interesting because both sides have strong arguments in their favor. And there are going to be some bad outcomes either way. A ruling in favor of artistic freedom of expression will mean that some people will have to do some more shopping around to find the custom art services they want, and a ruling that custom art is a public accommodation will mean that some artists will have to do work contrary to their values, standards, beliefs, or conscience if they want to continue in business, some artists will go out of the custom commission business altogether, or not go into it in the first place, there will be an increased burden to provide acceptable justification for declining any commission, and there will be a chilling effect as all custom artists have to consider all the possible kinds of obligations, liabilities, and legal exposures offering any custom art service could incur.

“It’s not what he designs but WHO uses it that disturbs him.”

It is not the who, it is what they are doing. He feels that goes against the Bible.

“That is discrimination by definition.”

That much isn’t in question. The issue is whether it is allowable discrimination. There are many kinds of discrimination that we endorse because they have good reasons (eg. discrimination against people with disabilities when their disability would substantially hinder their ability to do certain jobs) there are discriminations we accept even they don’t have very good rationales (naturalized citizens cannot be U.S. President) because we don’t see them as a burdensome infringement on anyone’s rights, and there are some that we tolerate (eg. discrimination against zoophiles) because we feel they have a social justification which outweighs any infringement on personal liberties. We sometimes change our mind about what is acceptable discrimination, but there will always be some forms of discrimination we will deem allowable and justified.


I don’t need to. There have already been many done about that. It is the core issue so that is naturally what most reporting about this case has centered on.

“But this article is about the religion angle, and it’s misinformed.”

And one of the ways it is misinformed is suggesting this is about the religion angle. The lower court ruling was based on free artistic expression. The Supreme Court case will therefore also have to center on that issue. And the Justice Dept. brief filed on this case was also about free expression.

“It is not a platform for you to talk about other issues.”

It is not about other issues. I’m talking about the central issue here, not rambling about irrelevant mitzvot that has nothing to do with this case. And I’m pretty sure I’ve been fully within the commenting guidelines, so unless you have some specific authority to speak on behalf of CommonDreams in dictating how this platform may be used, I’m betting I have as much right to post my comments here as you do yours.


A while ago (today) I heard the couple (yes, on MSNBC) describe what happened. It appears both I and @Trog were a bit misinformed. As they described the encounter, they’d made an appointment at the bakery, while one of their mothers was visiting, to discuss cakes. They’d been recommended by their reception planner. They arrived with a “thick binder” of ideas of their own, but never got to open it. Jack Phillips opened the conversation by asking which two of the three were the ones getting married, and when he found out it was the men, he closed the conversation by stating that his religious convictions precluded him from contributing to a same-sex couple’s wedding. He sent them away, gasping. It was about religion, not art.


Jack Phillips’ religious beliefs provided the motive and context for his refusal, but the legal case centers on the issue of free expression. And the ruling on this case would have implications that extend to cases that have other, non-religious, motivations.


Looked at objectively, this post points out the hypocrisy.


The supremes court has proven itself to be a traitor to the people. Yes, supremes court. I don’t expect the judges to protect my rights.


This case is about a conflict of rights. The Supreme Court is not being treacherous by accepting it because they have been asked to accept it. And their ruling is going to decide which principle of rights will take priority–the right to free expression (or abstention from expression), vs. an equality claim on private custom art services. Whichever way the court rules, one set of rights will be strengthened and another will be eroded, and both principles of rights will apply to everybody. Some people will gain because they care more about their rights which were strengthened, and some will lose because they care more about their rights which were diminished, but either way, a ruling here will deliver clarity, which is better than what we have now.


A ruling in this case for Phillips’s claim of free expression will clarify nothing. We have clarity now, in Colorado’s nondiscrimination law. There is no real conflict between true rights.


It will decide whether rights of free expression (and abstention) or rights of equal public accommodation takes precedence when it comes to providing custom creative and artistic services.

“We have clarity now, in Colorado’s nondiscrimination law.”

Well, first, Colorado law isn’t binding on the rest of the United States. And second, really? CADA prohibits discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation, religion, disability, race, creed, color, sex, age, national origin or ancestry. Colorado itself violated that statute back when the state refused to legally recognize or register homosexual marriages. There are still age restrictions for drinking, driving, voting, and sexual consent. There are all kinds of jobs people with certain disabilities are disqualified to do. They still have affirmative action programs in state universities which discriminate on the basis of gender and race. If that is clarity, it is clarity of a particularly murky kind.

“There is no real conflict between true rights.”

The rights we have in practice are routinely in conflict. If “true” rights are something different from our rights in practice, that just means they aren’t the rights we actually use. Rights are the privileges and permissions we collectively recognize and extend to each other. Rights conflict when incompatible rights overlap. We try to minimize such overlap by setting boundaries such that one set of rights ends where another set begins, but different groups will try to maximize different sets of rights, so there is a constant push, back and forth, at the boundaries. And setting the boundaries takes place in the public sphere, in legislature, and in the courts.


The Colorado law is exactly what’s at issue in the case before SCOTUS. Lower courts found that Phillips violated it, and Phillips and his lawyers took it up the way, trying to get the law declared unconstitutional. How likely do you think that is?


I would be surprised if the Supreme Court strikes down CADA as unconstitutional. It has problems of being vague, ill-defined, and inconsistently applied, but I think that calls for a remedy of refinement and clarification, not one of wholesale eradication. But even if they do strike it down, they will have to explain why, and the equal rights law which will undoubtedly replace it will be crafted to circumvent their objections.