Tuesday, July 12, 2016

ADF goes to the well again with Masterpiece Cakeshop

Monday, Emily Conley writes “Brushstrokes of a Masterpiece: Behind the Scenes with Jack Phillips” at Alliance Defending Freedom's blog. Apparently Phillips, the proprietor of Masterpiece Cakeshop, is still a client of ADF which means that a gratuitous federal suit is in the works at taxpayer expense. In the way of background:
  • In July 2012, David Mullins and Charlie Craig visited Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood Colorado to order a wedding cake. Their plan was to marry in Massachusetts and then celebrate with family and friends back home. The owner of the bakery refused service claiming that his religious beliefs preclude him from baking a cake for a same-sex wedding.
  • On May 30, 2014, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission determined that Masterpiece Cakeshop unlawfully discriminated against the couple by refusing to sell them a wedding cake.​ In doing so they affirmed previous determinations that Masterpiece’s refusal to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple constituted discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in violation of Colorado law.
  • On April 25, 2016 the Colorado Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the case.
Cynical Evangelical Christian economics at work. This is all settled law; Over 26 years ago the Supreme Court ruled that there are no religious exemptions to otherwise valid laws in Employment Division v. Smith.  The majority opinion was authored by Scalia. It's really pretty simple. We prevent people from taking the position that “Lord Xenu's engrams preclude me from paying income tax.” ADF knows that this is a futile enterprise. Their calculus is that they can raise more money off the ginned up outrage than they expend. With each appeal, taxpayers end up with the bill for court costs and for defending the decisions of the lower courts.

Getting back to Monday's polemic:
…two men asked Jack to bake a cake for their same-sex wedding. He told them he’d sell them birthday cakes, cookies, brownies…but he doesn’t do cakes for same-sex weddings.
Every time they tell this story they repeat the idiocy that Phillips offered to sell them cookies instead of the wedding cake that they wanted to order. It is to say: “See—I serve gay people, just not their weddings.” This is comparable: “I serve Jews every day—just not wedding cakes when they marry a Christian.” Does that make the issue clearer?
But within 20 minutes of the conversation with the couple, Jack answered the first of what would be thousands of angry phone calls. The business that had been a respected pillar of the community for over twenty years was now a target for protests, calls and emails filled with vitriol.

“But, are there other bakeries nearby?” I asked. Yes, as it turns out. There’s one quite literally across the street.
They received the opprobrium they deserved for their bigotry. ADF keeps trotting out the idea that other bakeries in the area absolve Phillips of his responsibility to comply with the law. The law does not include that exception and, as a practical matter, a gay couple should not have to shop around to find a willing vendor. Why have the law in the first place if it so easily flouted?
“People speculate that maybe they set us up,” Jack says. “But even if that is what [the same-sex couple] were doing, they didn’t realize that it was all part of God’s plan for us. God was using them to grow our faith.”
What “people?” The couple brought one of their mothers with them. The intent was to purchase a cake. They were not “set up” (just upset) but even if they were, and the couple's intent was to test compliance, it is irrelevant. And if this was all part of “God's Plan™” then what is he complaining about?

God chose a gay couple to cause Phillips to break the law? God caused several judges to rule against Phillips? I wish that Phillips would explain what it is that God has control over and what he or she does not. God's plan is the Swiss Army Knife of evangelical conviction. If your kid is dying of cancer “it's all part of God's plan.” “God does not test you beyond what you can withstand.” God's plan doesn't seem to include a reduction in either gun violence or global warming. And if things don't work out you can always invoke “God is punishing us for our transgressions.” My favorite is “God gave us free will.” God gave a criminal the free will to shoot your spouse which is then part of God's plan. Aren't those mutually exclusive. End of God's plan rant—for now. Or, maybe not:
Long before this test of faith, Jack has seen God’s work throughout his life… God’s handiwork has been evident.
So this whole thing is a test of Phillips' religious convictions? God caused the gay couple (in spite of their free will) to visit this test of faith upon him? It is just me or does this not make a whit of sense? Keep in mind that this BS is designed to keep the dollars flowing which means that people lack the critical thinking skills to ask some questions.
“God has always provided for us,” Jack says. A few examples: prior to the lawsuit, 40% of Masterpiece Cake Shop’s income came from wedding cakes. As a result of the lawsuit, they had to stop making cakes for any weddings. …
So God provided for Phillips by causing a test of faith that whacked 40% off of his top line? Phillips' god has a personality disorder.
In addition to the emotional cost of not being able to participate in one of the most important events in their customer’s lives, they’ve had to cut back on staff, and Jack’s mother began helping out on a volunteer basis. And yet, so far, with the support from people across the state, and the country, their sales of cookies, brownies, and bars have been able to keep the doors open. When their story aired on a local radio station, supporters lined the sidewalks outside the bakery, waiting two hours just to get a cookie or brownie.
So God caused these people (with free will) to provide? Would it not have made more sense to simply not engage in this supposed test of faith to begin with. If God is omniscient then he knows that Phillips is devout. What was the point? By the way a crowd funding site has been around for a couple of years. So far people have donated $38,000. I strongly suspect that these funds are going to ADF.
And on the day opposition had planned a protest at the bakery and Jack had jury duty, he was mysteriously dismissed due to a “glitch” in the computer system, which allowed him to be present at the bakery to reassure his family and employees.

“A lot of things like that have happened through this situation. You don’t not trust this God,” Jack says.
So God could not cause Phillips to not get the summons in the first place? I'm convinced. Look at all that God has done for Phillips over the last four years because he needs to test devout believers. Sure.
Thinking of the protests, the boycotts, the months of answering angry phone calls all day, the threats made against him and his family, I ask, “If you could go back to that day in the bakery, what would you do differently?”

“Nothing,” he says immediately. “I’d still be picking up my Bible once in a while with a mediocre faith, but God designed this to grow my faith.”
So with “mediocre faith” Phillips was sufficiently self-righteous to turn away a gay couple? It is clear that Phillips has learned nothing from this episode. Take God and the law out of the equation and we are still left with how people should treat each other in a polite society. Phillips has grandchildren. Suppose one of them turns out to be gay. How would he want him or her to be treated? Whatever happened to the Golden Rule?

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