At this point, most Americans have heard of Jack Phillips—the man they call “the baker from Colorado.” But Jack is a cake artist. And all he wants is to create one-of-a-kind custom cakes, consistent with his faith. But for over a decade, activists and Colorado officials have tried to punish him for that.
Jack never wanted to spend his days in courtrooms and in the spotlight of the national media. Yet just as God placed Esther where He placed her “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14), Jack has been forced to defend his right to free speech for a decade in courts from Colorado to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Despite his Alliance Defending Freedom victory at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018—he has continued to be attacked and harassed by activists and government officials.
Jack believes that God created men and women to be unique and complementary. This means our sex is a God-given, biological reality, not something we can choose or change. Creating a cake that celebrates any other view of sex would violate his religious beliefs.
Yet an activist lawyer asked Jack to do just that. After Jack politely declined to create a custom cake that would celebrate the attorney’s “transition” from male to female, Jack was sued again.
Just three weeks after the Supreme Court ruled for Jack, Colorado officials pursued him again. But after ADF attorneys uncovered new evidence of the State’s ongoing hostility again Jack and his faith, Colorado officials dismissed the case. The activist lawyer, however, filed a new lawsuit in civil court—over the same cake request. Last summer, the trial court entered an order punishing Jack for declining to create the gender-transition cake. We immediately appealed to the Colorado Court of Appeals on Jack’s behalf.
No one should be forced to create or express a message that defies their beliefs and conscience. Governments don’t have the authority to compel you to speak messages you don’t believe in. That’s been a bedrock American principle for centuries, but it’s under attack now.
Jack isn’t the only one whose free speech is being threatened
Should a government agency or official be able to force a Democratic speechwriter to pen a speech for a Republican politician? Should the Catholic church be able to demand an atheist cake artist to design an Easter-themed cake? Of course not.
Jack has a proven track record of serving all people—his case isn’t about that. It’s about his First Amendment right to refrain from promoting messages he doesn’t believe in.
We praise God that Jack refused to give up his freedom without a fight. He knows it’s not just his own speech on the line—it’s yours too.
But he’s not the only one standing up to Colorado’s attempt to coerce speech and punish Christian business owners who choose to live out their faith in the marketplace.
Lorie Smith is a Christian web designer who has always enjoyed using her talents to support causes she strongly believes in—from veterans to children with special needs, overseas missions, and animal shelters.
|Her passions also included a desire to shine a spotlight on the beauty of God-ordained marriage. She was excited to expand her business to include designing custom wedding websites for her clients, an opportunity to show how each story reflected the beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.|
But the same Colorado agency that prosecuted Jack Phillips would use its power to target Lorie as well, if she created wedding websites celebrating only marriage between a man and a woman.
Like Jack, Lorie serves all types of people, but she cannot design websites promoting every message that’s requested of her. Lorie can’t create art that promotes certain political messages, atheism, or casinos. She also can’t design anything that is un-American, disrespects someone’s faith, or degrades people, including those who identify as LGBT.
Colorado argues that it has the power to control what Lorie can say. That it can force her to say things she doesn’t believe. But Lorie knows that you don’t lose your freedom of speech when you choose to make a living.
|“I left the corporate world to start my own design studio precisely because I wanted to be able to design things close to my heart and consistent with my beliefs. But if the government won’t let me speak and make a living consistent with those beliefs, it could do the same to you.” – Lorie Smith|
That’s why Lorie, with the help of ADF, has taken her case to the U.S. Supreme Court—standing up for the freedom of all Americans to say what they believe without fear of government punishment. Her case will be argued this fall, and could result in a landmark decision for free speech.
Lorie shouldn’t have to stand alone. She’s faced death threats, received unspeakably hateful messages, and her family and clients have been harassed and threatened. All because she simply wants to live out her faith in the workplace.
Just as those of faith and conscience are rallying around Jack Phillips, now is the time for those of us who value freedom and liberty to support Lorie. To commit to praying for her case, for the attorneys who will be working on building the arguments they will present to the Supreme Court this fall. And to pray for the justices, that they will protect Lorie’s constitutional rights and affirm the right of all to say what they believe without threat of government punishment.