Glenn K. Beaton: We will not worship the Colorado Civil Rights Commission
The Aspen Beat
The bigotry of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission earned it a spanking from the United States Supreme Court this month. Here’s the story.
A born-again Christian named Jack Phillips ran a bakery. Aware of Phillips’ heartfelt religious beliefs, a gay couple demanded that he violate those beliefs by designing and creating an artistic cake to celebrate their marriage. This was even before Colorado had legalized gay marriage.
Phillips politely told the couple that they were welcome in his bakery and that he would be happy to sell them anything off-the-shelf. But he could not violate his faith. He even offered to find them an alternative bakery for their cake (which is easy).
But the couple weren’t satisfied. They didn’t really come to Phillips for a cake; they came for his scalp.
The couple had one of their moms telephone Phillips to complain. Then they reported him to the commission. During the years that the case was pending, Phillips lost 40 percent of his business and was the frequent target of anonymous threats.
A little background about this commission: According to its website, it “is a seven-member board whose mission is to … conduct hearings regarding illegal discriminatory practices.”
Note that this language in the commission’s own website assumes at the outset that the practices they investigate are illegal. The purpose of the hearing, therefore, is not to hear. It’s to lecture and punish. It’s a kangaroo court.
The commission website boasts that “At least four of the commissioners are members of groups who have been or might be discriminated against because of disability, race, creed, color, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, marital status, religion or age.”
Back to Jack Phillips’ case. Consistent with the commission mission to discriminate in favor of the favored groups of which the commissioners are members, and against disfavored groups of which the commissioners are not, they crucified the Christian.
To Phillips’ face, the commission slammed his religious beliefs as “despicable.”
It gets worse. The Supreme Court explained in its decision that one particular commissioner “even went so far as to compare Phillips’ invocation of his sincerely held religious beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust.”
None of the other commissioners and none of the Colorado courts that heard the case objected to this commissioner’s slander.
But the Supreme Court did. They held that the commission’s hateful rhetoric “cast doubt on the fairness and impartiality of the commission’s adjudication of Phillips’ case.”
The Supreme Court’s 7-2 decision for Phillips which I quoted was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy. He’s no right-wing ideologue. In fact, he’s the author of the Supreme Court opinion a few years ago that established gay marriage as a Constitutional right.
Like Kennedy, I don’t share Jack Phillips’ belief about gay marriage. I’d bake a cake for any couple. I don’t care if someone wants to marry a person of the same sex, or, for that matter, marry one or more persons of the other 63 purported genders, or even marry animals, plants or minerals. I do draw the line on marrying someone younger than 14.
But like Phillips, I’m also a born-again Christian. Phillips and I are in diverse and mostly good company. Other Christians include Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Isaac Newton, Galileo, Martin Luther (and Martin Luther King), Pope John Paul II, George W. Bush, Nelson Mandela, Elvis Presley, Hillary Clinton, Tom Hanks and probably some of your friends.
Apart from one important point that unites us as Christians, our beliefs are varied. Faith also of course extends beyond Christianity. It includes Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and many other religions.
A common thread in faith is the search for a creator of this creation — a cause for this effect — that we call the universe. Our journeys in that search are all over the map. Some find Christ on a Road to Damascus. Others find something else on a different way.
Phillips is tolerant of the different ways. He simply didn’t want to use his God-given artistry to create an expression contrary to his religious beliefs about his own personal way.
The gay couple wanted to force him to do precisely that. In effect, they wanted to outlaw his religion.
Although I differ from Phillips about gay marriage, I don’t think Phillips’ beliefs should be outlawed, just as I don’t think the beliefs of Augustine or Hillary or Gandhi or Golda Meir should be outlawed. This is religion, not science. The First Amendment is specifically for the purpose of allowing each of us to find his or her unique way.
That’s why as a person of faith, I deeply resent unelected bureaucrats characterizing faith as “despicable” and equating it to the horrors of Nazism and slavery. They evidently see faith as competition to their own governmental omnipotence.
And that’s why as a lawyer and citizen, I’m incensed that the courts of Colorado charged with protecting religious liberty under the First Amendment would endorse that bureaucratic bigotry.
I want them all to apologize to Jack Phillips, to Christians in Colorado, to all persons of all other faiths in Colorado and to all other citizens of Colorado.
And I have a message for those little dictatorial bureaucrats: We will not worship you. We will worship the God that each of us finds on our own chosen way.
Correspond and subscribe at theAspenbeat@gmail.com.
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Two Rivers Unitarian-Universalist Church, in conjunction with the Roaring Fork Valley’s Interfaith Council and Sanctuary Unidos, is showing a Zoom presentation of the documentary “Welcome Strangers” at 10 a.m. Sunday.