Black Pastors Reject LGBT-Civil Rights Comparison, Defend Baker's Religious Freedom to Reject Gay Wedding
On Monday, a group of black pastors and Christian leaders sent a message to the baker whose refusal to serve a same-sex wedding will come before the Supreme Court in December: "We've got your back, Jack!" The pastors and ministry leaders — including an ex-lesbian — firmly endorsed religious freedom, rejecting the Left's comparisons between the LGBT movement and the civil rights movement.
"Those standing with me today do so because they understand that no person should be forced by the government to violate his or her conscience," the Rev. Dean Nelson, chairman of the Frederick Douglass Foundation and senior fellow for African-American affairs at the Family Research Council (FRC), told reporters. "No one should be forced out of business and have his livelihood destroyed because of what he believes. This is America, people have the right to freedom of expression and freedom of conscience."
Nelson and other black Christian leaders announced a new initiative entitled "We Got Your Back, Jack." The project defends Colorado baker Jack Phillips, owner of the bakery "Masterpiece Cakeshop." On December 5, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in his case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
In 2012, the commission charged Phillips with breaking the state's anti-discrimination law by refusing to provide a cake for Charles Craig and David Mullins. The law stipulates that businesses open to the public may not deny service to customers based on their race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation. State courts upheld the commission's ruling, but Phillips appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing he deserved a religious exemption based on free speech and free exercise of religion. He did not turn away gay or lesbian people from his shop, but he did refuse to bake a special cake for a same-sex wedding, on free speech grounds.
"Colorado cake artist, Jack Phillips, serves everyone, but he doesn't use his creative expression for every event," the "We Got Your Back, Jack" website explains. "When a cake artist declines to design a cake for a Halloween party, the world goes about its business. But if that same cake artist declines a request for a custom cake for a same-sex wedding, he is forced to defend his decision all the way to the United States Supreme Court."
"The government exists to protect those who have diverse opinions and viewpoints, not to punish them," Nelson declared.
"We had to fight for equal treatment because of the color of our skin," the Rev. William Avon Keen, Virginia president of Martin Luther King Jr.'s organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), told reporters Monday, according to Religion News Service. "Christians should not be forced to support sin."
Keen argued that the civil rights movement's efforts against segregation are fundamentally different from the LGBT movement's attempt to crack down on religious freedom.