Jack Phillips has received the 2017, “Courage in the Face of Power: Daniel Award” while attending the Weyrich Awards Dinner in Washington D.C.
The award is intended to highlight the baker’s courage for standing by his religious beliefs despite the court system in power opposing his viewpoint. Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, is involved in a civil suit filed by two gay men for refusing to create a wedding cake for the couple. The case is now on its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Phillips is a cake artist, and believes strongly that marriage is between a man and a woman. He refused to bake the wedding cake for the couple, as he did not want his creation to be any part of the celebration that goes against his faith. He states that he isn’t refusing to serve the same-sex couple anything else, but did not want to make a wedding cake to celebrate a union he doesn’t believe in.
The same-sex couple, Charles Craig and David Mullins, filed a complaint with the civil rights commission back in 2012. The couple married in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and later had a reception in Colorado where they wanted a cake from Phillips. The couple had a different baker provide a wedding cake, and continue to pursue the case in court because they believe they have been discriminated against.
The case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission is now in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. Phillips is represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, while the same-sex couples are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Phillips was initially held accountable, as the court system deemed his actions discriminatory. Despite his religious beliefs, the court ordered that if Phillips was providing wedding cakes for straight couples, he had to provide wedding cakes for same-sex couples as well. Phillips, on the other hand, argues that his artistic expression cannot be forced.
Instead of providing wedding cakes for all couples, Phillips decided to stop making customized wedding cakes completely. His business has taken a huge financial hit. While wedding cakes were a big part of his business, Phillips feels it is more important to stand by his religious beliefs.
According to the Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner, “Jack is a humble and worthy recipient of this honor”, regarding the award Phillips received Tuesday night. She will be representing Phillips in front of the Supreme Court this fall, and believes strongly that all artists and creative individuals should have the right to work and build creations that allow them to stand by their convictions.
“Jack has taken a brave stand,” Waggoner added. “Even enduring death threats and sacrificing 40 percent of his business because the state won’t let him design any wedding cakes if he won’t design them for same-sex weddings.”
This Supreme Court case has strong arguments on both sides, but Phillips continues to argue that staying true to his faith as a Christian has been his top priority. He receives death threats, lost a lot of business, and deals with slander on a daily basis.
“Not a day goes by where I don’t thank the Lord for his protection over me and my family,” he said during the award ceremony last week.
Phillips clearly believes strongly in the right of everyone to live and work according to their deepest convictions, including those that are based in faith. If the government can punish a creative artist for refusing to create art for an event that goes against their religious beliefs, what’s next? He does not feel that his behavior is discriminatory, but that he expressed his right to refuse to participate in an event that goes against his own beliefs.
Rather than continue baking wedding cakes for all couples, or taking the risk of further discrimination, Phillips took the financial hit and decided to stop baking wedding cakes. It is for this courage and conviction that Phillips was awarded the “Courage in the Face of Power: Daniel Award” last week.
~ 1776 Christian