What Jack Phillips would say differently to gay couple he refused to make wedding cake (interview)

Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop of Denver, Colorado. | Courtesy of Alliance Defending Freedom

In July 2012, when the federal government and most states in the United States did not legally recognize gay marriages, a Colorado baker found himself the subject of an anti-discrimination case for refusing to make a same-sex wedding cake on religious grounds.

Years later, Jack Phillips found himself before the highest court in the land, where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

Phillips details experiences with the litigation, his upbringing and faith background in the book The Cost of My Faith: How a Decision in My Cake Shop Took Me to the Supreme Court, scheduled for release through Salem Books on May 18.

In the book, Phillips documents his multiple legal battles over his decisions not to make a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding or a cake celebrating a gender transition.

Even though Phillips eventually won his legal battle against the same-sex couple with a 2018 Supreme Court victory, he is still dealing with litigation surrounding his refusal to make a cake celebrating a gender transition for transgender attorney Autumn Scardina.

In March, Denver District Court Judge A. Bruce Jones dropped one of the two charges leveled against Phillips, with the other being argued in trial court later that month; a decision is pending.

The Christian Post recently spoke with Phillips, covering topics such as why he wrote his book, the struggle to convey his beliefs to those who disagree with him and how he felt about one conservative activist’s efforts to sue bakeries that refused to make a cake with an anti-gay message. Below are excerpts from that interview.  

CP: What led you to write this book?

Phillips: The first thing that came to my mind about writing this book was that I want my kids and my grandkids to know the true story of what happened back there in July 2012 and what's happened since, as it’s difficult to find all of those kind of facts on the internet, or at least factual facts.

CP: You mentioned in the book about wanting to go back to July 2012 to explain more to the same-sex couple about why you refused to make the gay wedding cake. What would have you said if you could have done it again?

Phillips: The same thing I've been saying to hundreds of people ever since — that I serve everybody who comes in my shop, but there are certain cakes that I can't create because of an inherent message or written message that the cake would contain and that I can't convey.

In their case, it was a cake that had a different view of marriage. I believe the biblical view of marriage. It’s between a man and a woman. I would gladly serve these people, these two men, any other cake, other custom works or sell them anything out of my showcase. [I would tell them] that it was not them that I was not serving. I was just declining to create a cake that went against my core beliefs. But they were welcome in my shop.

That's what I would try and explain to them.

I tried to explain it to this attorney, Scardina, that is suing me this go-around. We had a face-to-face meeting, Scardina and myself, this attorney. And in that meeting, I tried to explain that there are just certain cakes that I couldn't create and that I would gladly create other custom work for this attorney. It was just the particular cake, in this case celebrating a gender transition, that I couldn't create.

Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, on "The View" in New York City, June 29, 2017. | (Photo: Youtube/"The View")

CP: It seems like, again and again, many people are failing to see the nuances of your stance. You willingly serve same-sex couples, but you will not perform services that convey certain messages. You do not hate the members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, but you do oppose their actions against you. Why do you think it is so hard for many people to see these points, even though you have explained them over and over again?

Phillips: A lot of that, I believe, comes from the media's portrayal of me, and that's one of the reasons that I wanted to write the book. They portray me as somebody who's intolerant and somebody who won't serve different groups of society.

But, again, it’s just cakes. I also don't create cakes that celebrate Halloween or cakes with alcohol in them or cakes that denigrate other people, including the people who identify as LGBT.

CP: In the book, you described the experience of watching the oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court in person. You talked about it being a very different environment. What would you say were the most surprising experiences of the arguments in person?

Phillips: It’s just not traffic court. This is the United States Supreme Court. And just watching the nine justices file in, the reverence that everybody had, there are federal marshals making sure that there's no noise, that it’s a very solemn and sobering experience. It was really something that everybody should be able to watch.

To be able to observe and see how our Constitution is supposed to be played out in that regard.

CP: While you did not mention him by name in the book, I noticed that you talked about the actions of Bill Jack, a conservative Christian activist who sued multiple bakeries in Colorado that refused to make an anti-gay cake. What is your opinion of his complaint?

Phillips: With those three bakers, I would agree with their stance that they declined to create cakes that went against their messages because all Americans should be able to live and work freely according to their consciences, without fear of punishment from the government. And so, I agree that they should be able to say, “that's a message I can't create, and I am not going to create it.” And I would agree with them.

Bill Jack, founder of Worldview Academy, in a 2015 video. | (Screenshot: YouTube/Worldview at the Abbey)

CP: Bill Jack told The Christian Post in an interview in 2018 that he agreed with the bakeries he filed complaints against. As he put it, "I believe those bakeries have every right to deny me service for whatever reason they wish. But if they're going to apply the law equitably, they should have applied it against everyone."

Do you believe that certain strategies like those of Bill Jack aimed at proving a point are necessary to help individuals like yourself since it did influence the Supreme Court's opinion?

Phillips: That's not necessarily a tactic that I would take. I just want to run a cake shop and create cakes for my customers, and get to know my customers, and have them come back again and again, and become friends and like family.

CP: What do you hope people take away from your book, especially readers who might disagree with your stance?

Phillips: I admit that there are still always going to be people who will not agree with my stance, and I just want the chance to explain what that stance is.

It’s difficult for someone like me to put it in print, and we've done the best that we could. But like every interview that I have done, all of it has been an occasion to try and explain that I serve everybody, that I can't create every cake and that our Constitution protects that right.

Every American should be able to make those decisions and be able to create or not create things according to their conscience without fear of punishment from the government.

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