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Supreme Court hears case of Colorado baker under fire for marriage view

By Roger Drinnon

Oral arguments were heard Dec. 5 in the case of Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips, sued by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for sexual-orientation discrimination for refusing to make a custom cake for a same-sex wedding ceremony.

The contentious case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission likely will determine whether the government can compel Americans to use their abilities and vocations to perform services that violate their faith and conscience. Arguments were extended from the scheduled 60 minutes to 90 minutes to accommodate both sides of the case.

“I am here at the Supreme Court today because I respectfully declined to create a custom cake that would celebrate a view of marriage in direct conflict with my faith’s core teachings on marriage,” said Phillips at a rally following the oral arguments.

He spoke amid chants of “We got Jack’s back!” from a crowd of supporters.

“For that decision, which was guided by an established set of religious beliefs, I’ve endured a five-year court battle. It’s been very hard on me and my family,” he said. “There have been tears and many difficult days for us.”

Phillips said he and his family have faced death threats and harassment, and he has been forced to stop creating the wedding art that he loves while also losing much of his business, as the family struggles to pay bills and keep the shop afloat.
“It’s hard to believe that the government is forcing me to choose between providing for my family and employees and violating my relationship with God. That is not freedom. That is not tolerance,” Phillips added.

The LCMS joined an amicus brief for the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Phillips earlier this year with seven other organizations advocating for religious freedom in the case. The LCMS brief was one of approximately 50 briefs that included scores of religious organizations filed in support of Phillips.
Download amicus brief

In July 2016, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorneys and allied attorneys petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case. According to ADF case details, an administrative-law judge ruled in December 2013 against the cake artist, saying that designing cakes for same-sex wedding ceremonies is not speech protected by the First Amendment.
The commission also ordered Phillips and his staff to design cakes for same-sex wedding celebrations; take “corrective action,” including comprehensive staff training; implement new policies to ensure compliance with Colorado anti-discrimination laws; and file quarterly “compliance” reports for two years to show that Phillips has implemented the changes and to document any patrons denied service.
ADF attorneys indicated that when the U.S. Supreme Court rules in this case, it will have a major impact on religious freedom in America, collectively stating, “It could very well be the most important decision in our lifetime” in terms of religious liberty.

ADF also has appealed a related right-of-conscience case to the U.S. Supreme Court. In the case involving Arlene’s Flowers, the Washington Supreme Court upheld a ruling against florist Barronelle Stutzman, who declined to create custom flowers for a longtime customer’s same-sex wedding.

The U.S. Supreme Court could consider this case along with Masterpiece Cakeshop or hold it until its Masterpiece decision is made, and then send the case back to the lower court for reconsideration in light of the new opinion. Last year, the Synod also joined an amicus brief for Stutzman’s case, State of Washington v. Arlene’s Flowers.
Read about Barronelle Stutzman

Although neither Phillips nor Stutzman is an LCMS Lutheran, the outcome of each case may pose significant ramifications for the Synod, its agencies, affiliated institutions and members of LCMS congregations.

“Tolerance should be a two-way street. Phillips gladly serves anyone who walks into his store, but, as is customary practice for many artists, he declines opportunities to design for a variety of events and messages that conflict with his deeply held beliefs. In this case, Jack told the couple suing him he’d sell them anything in the store but just couldn’t design a custom cake celebrating their wedding because of his Christian faith,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner after filing an opening brief with the high court in August.

Waggoner represents both Phillips and Stutzman.

“The First Amendment protects Jack’s right to create artistic expression that is consistent with his core convictions,” she said. “Individuals can support both same-sex marriage and Jack, and people should have the right to disagree on critical matters of conscience. The same government that can force Jack to violate his faith and conscience can force any one of us to do the same.”

The U.S. Supreme Court now must decide, in effect, whether Christians who do not support same-sex marriage have the same liberty as others to live consistently according to their religious beliefs and whether Christians can be compelled to express messages or promote events that violate their faith.

If the high court rules against Phillips (and Stutzman), the ADF says potential ramifications include lawsuits against other creative professionals and Christian business owners who express themselves through their business activities, a rule of law that would not support First Amendment rights for all people.

“I’m profoundly thankful to the Supreme Court of the United States for taking my case. I hope and pray it will affirm the freedom of artists to peacefully express themselves in ways consistent with who they are,” said Phillips.

Last year, the Synod in convention adopted Resolution 14-01 to encourage intentional leadership in matters of religious freedom.


To learn more about what the Synod is doing regarding religious liberty, visit its “Free to be Faithful” webpage.

To read about other amicus briefs the LCMS has joined, go to

Roger Drinnon ( is director of Editorial and Media Relations for LCMS Communications.

Posted Dec. 6, 2017

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# Not 4 Sale

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

We logged on to the Internet and Facebook yesterday only to be hit with a sickening story: undercover video footage seemingly implicating Planned Parenthood in the sale of the body parts of aborted children.

In the video, Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Senior Director of Medical Services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, discusses how she adjusts abortion procedures to procure certain parts of a child’s body, even as she notes that “we’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver.”

Listen long enough, if you can handle it, and you’ll hear her suggest that such items could eventually be listed on a Planned Parenthood “menu” for affiliate organizations to purchase for a price.

Later in the day, Planned Parenthood released a “nothing to see here” kind of statement, asserting that the discussion was merely one revolving around a patient’s right to donate tissue, as with any medical procedure. But why does Nucatola then mention the costs of body parts (“Thirty to one hundred dollars,” she says)?

Lord, have mercy.

If what Nucatola says is, in fact, the truth, we as Christians cannot allow this story to go untold or be buried by the media. We simply cannot remain silent while the reprehensible act of killing a child in the womb is made even worse by selling portions of that child’s dismembered body simply because there is a market for them.

Speaking up about the shameful act of killing children — as well as harvesting their body parts — may be uncomfortable. We may lose friends and create awkward tension at work. Our professors may mock us, and our family may roll their eyes at us. If that is the case, so be it. Because as Lutherans, as Christians, we are for life, no matter the cost.

As Lutherans, we confess that every life has value, that it has worth, that it matters … from the moment of conception until natural death occurs. We confess that what Nucatola calls “17-weekers” are actually children — with beating hearts and little moving fingers and toes.

We confess that even the tiniest of humans are just that — regardless of what scientific term the culture uses to make them seem like something less. We confess that they are created in the image and likeness of our Lord Himself. And we confess that because of Him, their hearts and lungs and livers matter, no matter how small they might be.

We also admit our own failings in this regard. Where we have failed to speak and act for life, we repent. Where we have not cared for mothers in crisis-pregnancy situations, we ask for forgiveness. Where we have thought more of ourselves than giving to an organization that can assist those moms and babies, we are sorry. Where we have been apathetic to this pandemic of death, we grieve.

But we are not without hope, because our Lord is for life too.

He is so pro-life, in fact, that He has given His own life for us, even as He has laid it down for these tiniest of children. Where their short lives are taken, He offers up His willingly. Where their little bodies are sold, He gives His freely to us at His holy table for the forgiveness of our sins.

Today let us confess life with renewed vigor — to our friends over supper, through letters to the editor of our local paper, by writing our congressmen, in tweets and emails to Planned Parenthood, on our Facebook pages.

Let us pray that our Lord would bring an end to abortion altogether and that He would stop the horrible sale of infant bodies.

And let us pray that He would forgive us, renew us and bolster us to make a good confession in season and out of season: one that is always, no matter what, for life.

Rev. Bart Day


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