Several progressive denominations and religious organizations submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the highly anticipated Masterpiece Cakeshop case. Amici curiae (“friends of the court” submitting the brief) claimed that Christian baker Jack Phillips, proprietor of Masterpiece Cakeshop, should be forced to create cakes for same-sex weddings, in defiance of his religious beliefs.
These liberal “friends of the court” argued that “particular religious perspectives may not be accorded special privileges” or otherwise “undermine” non-discrimination laws. They asserted that forcing Phillips to create cakes designed specifically for same-sex weddings “poses no threat to religious liberty” in any way.
“Traditions that run the gamut of American religious expression oppose allowing small business owners to deny service to gay or lesbian customers on religious grounds,” they argued.
Filed on October 30, nearly 1,300 faith leaders and organizations signed onto the brief. These featured LGBTQ-activists from mainline Protestant denominations. Notably, two activist United Methodist groups were among amici curiae: Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA) and Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN). Focusing their efforts on ignoring or rewriting ecclesiastical law in the United Methodist Church to become more permissive of LGBTQ behavior, these organizations extended their reach into matters of civil government through this brief.
Other Mainline activist organizations included Covenant Network of Presbyterians, More Light Presbyterians, ReconcilingWorks: Lutherans For Full Participation, and Open and Affirming Coalition of the United Church of Christ.
In addition, the United Church of Christ’s Rocky Mountain Conference added its voice, as well as the post-Christian denomination Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). Several progressive Jewish, Muslim, and other religious organizations also contributed:
- The Central Conference of American Rabbis
- Muslims for Progressive Values
- Religious Institute, Inc.
- Women of Reform Judaism
- Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns
- The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
These progressive religious groups denied that “their religious views should be accorded any more weight under civil law” than those of Phillips. But they simultaneously painted themselves as morally enlightened thinkers: “Any suggestion that ‘religion’ or ‘people of faith’ as a whole reject LGBT equality is false and, frankly, insulting to millions of Americans of faith.”
Meanwhile, the progressive authors of the brief ignored the biblical principle to “do unto others.” They took insulting swipes at their theological and political opponents. They implicitly suggested that religious conservatives denied the dignity of individuals identifying as LGBTQ:
Undersigned Amici respectfully submit that the starting point for any discussion of the treatment of LGBT persons – as a matter of religious doctrine or civil law – must be the fundamental dignity that such persons share with all other members of the human family.
This narrative fails to jive with the fact that Phillips, like many other religiously conservative individuals, has no objection to hiring and serving LGBTQ people. (While the liberal HuffPost Queer Voices noted this fact upfront, the brief failed to afford the same respect to Phillips.)
“If gays come in and want to order birthday cakes or any cakes for any occasion, graduations, or whatever, I have no prejudice against that whatsoever,” Phillips told CBS News regarding Masterpiece Cakeshop. “It’s just the wedding cake, not the people, not their lifestyle.”
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the organization representing Phillips, reinforced this point:
Jack has never discriminated against anyone, and he certainly didn’t refuse to serve the couple that filed a discrimination complaint against him. When they walked into his shop, he offered to sell them cookies, brownies, or anything pre-made from his shelves. But that was not enough. The government wants to force him to use his artistic talents to celebrate events that violate his faith.
When it comes down it, the moral stands taken by religiously orthodox Christians like Jack Phillips at Masterpiece Cakeshop don’t stem from prejudice, hate, or ignorance. Their courageous actions are rooted in genuine belief, conviction, and faith.Google+