My Faith Votes recently had the opportunity to catch up with Jack Phillips, a cake artist and the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado. Phillips gained national recognition as a result of his Supreme Court case, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which originated when Phillips refused to create a cake for a same-sex wedding in 2012.
This conversation has been edited for clarity and length. You can watch the full conversation with Jack Phillips here.
My Faith Votes: Your book, “The Cost of My Faith: How a Decision in My Cake Shop Took Me to the Supreme Court,” is a powerful look at what has transpired over the past nine years for you and your cakeshop. First, I would love for you to share your testimony and what ultimately led to people knowing you as the “Christian baker.”
Phillips: I grew up going to church, but around 17 years old, I stopped going because it just didn’t interest me. It never stuck with me. A few years later, I’m married with a couple of kids. I’m working hard at a good job, but I’m still living without God. When God got ahold of me, I wasn’t a drug-dealing alcoholic who woke up in a gutter saying, “God, if you save me, I’ll serve you!”
It happened out of the blue on my way home from work after working the night shift. It was a sunny morning in the spring of 1987, and the Holy Spirit came to me in my car and convicted me of my sinful nature. I needed a savior, and that savior was Jesus. At first I tried to negotiate, “Let me clean up my life first, and you’ll get a better deal.” But the Holy Spirit made it clear that I couldn’t do that. A few more blocks down the road and I had given my life to Jesus.
My Faith Votes: Jumping ahead in your story, in 2012 you’re still following Christ and you’re now the owner of Masterpiece Cake Shop. Take us back to that day in July 2012 when a conversation with two potential customers changed your life forever.
Phillips: One July afternoon, two men came into my store in Lakewood, Colo. I went over to the men who were sitting at the wedding desk to discuss how we could help them. They gave me their names and said they were looking at cakes for their wedding. I replied, “Sorry guys, we don’t do cakes for same-sex weddings.”
They stared at me blankly. I told them we would do their birthday cake, cookies, brownies, anything like that. I just don’t do cakes for same-sex weddings. Immediately they jumped up, started swearing at me and then stormed out of the shop.
I thought to myself, “What in the world just happened?” Twenty minutes later, I get a call and someone asks, “Are you the one who just turned away the gay couple?” I replied that I would never turn anyone away, I just told them we wouldn’t create that specific kind of wedding cake. Things just took off from there.
My Faith Votes: What ultimately led to the Supreme Court case?
Phillips: In the weeks that followed the two men coming into the shop, they staged two protests right outside the store. Media came, and there were a lot of people on both sides. One of the reporters asked me if I was aware I had broken an anti-discrimination law. As it turns out, the two men who came into the shop filed a complaint through the Colorado Civil Rights Division, and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission found probable cause to pursue and took me to court. This eventually led to us petitioning the case to the Supreme Court and, against incredible odds, they took the case.
It was through this process that I realized this case was not about me; every American’s freedoms were at stake. We were fighting for the right to exercise freedom of speech and religion. Before I ever opened the shop, my wife sat down and decided on the kinds of cakes we could not create because of our religious convictions. This was one of those cakes, and we never waivered.
My faith compels me to serve everyone that comes into my shop, but I can’t create every message. Every American should be free to live and work according to their conscience without fear of punishment from the government. And that’s what was at stake.
My Faith Votes: We would love to hear if there was a particular verse that helped you stay grounded in your faith.
Phillips: The verse that comes to mind is 2 Chronicles 16:9, “The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” (NLT). The Lord truly has shown us his strength continually throughout this experience.
Jack Phillip’s book, The Cost of My Faith: How a Decision in My Cake Shop Took Me to the Supreme Court, is available on Amazon.
Today, the “Equality Act” poses one of the most severe threats to religious freedom in America. This federal legislation cloaked in positive rhetoric seeks to destroy sex and gender as defined by God (Genesis 1:26-28) and it will cost people of faith the ability to freely live out their convictions.
Jack’s story should encourage us to stand strong in support of biblical truth and to oppose the “Equality Act” so that other people do not have to endure persecution for their religious beliefs like Jack did in Colorado.
My Faith Votes is a nonpartisan movement that motivates, equips and activates Christians in America to vote in every election, transforming our communities and influencing our nation with biblical truth. By partnering with national faith leaders, My Faith Votes provides resources to help Christians Pray, Think, and Act to create an America where God is honored in the public square. Learn more at MyFaithVotes.org.