The evangelical Christian who owns Colorado’s Masterpiece Cakeshop has paid a high price for standing on principle and for his faith.
Jack Phillips made national news in 2012 when he refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. He was called a bigot and dismissed as a religious fanatic but he refused to back down.
On Monday, the Supreme Court announced that it would decide whether that fateful action was based in discrimination or freedom of religion.
In a recent interview with Fox News, Phillips says he continues to be attacked for his religious convictions. He’s lost revenue and customers while receiving death threats and chronic poisonous reviews on social media.
But for Phillips, the worst thing about his notoriety are the hateful remarks that his wife and daughter receive.
“In all of this, the threats against me or disparaging comments, the worst part is that I have to answer the phone so they’re not threatening my wife or my daughter when they pick it up,” Phillips said. “They don’t wait to see who’s on the phone. You pick up the phone, they’re already talking.”
With the controversy reaching the Supreme Court, Phillips remains adamant that he never refused service to the couple; rather, he invited them to select anything in his store. But Phillips says he had to say no to becoming personally involved int he couple’s wedding because he opposes same-sex marriage and the Bible proscribes homosexual relations
The case is likely to be first heard in the fall of this year.
Philllips’ gay opponents remain hostile in their position. “This has always been about more than a cake,” David Mullins, who went to Phillips for the wedding cake, told Fox News. “Businesses should not be allowed to violate the law and discriminate against us because of who we are and who we love.”
Mullins’ husband, Craig, says the couple is “disappointed” that the nation’s top court will hear the case.
Phillips is more than disappointed with the behavior of people who forget all about “who they love” when they regularly harass his family with crude remarks delivered over the phone or via email. Even that can’t compare to death threats or comments that he doesn’t “deserve to live.” Or the person with the penchant for telling Phillips that “Christians should be thrown into the Roman Colosseum with lions.”
One death threat occurred before Phillips Christian objections were nationally known. Some man called about Phillips’ daughter, Lisa. The man on the other end of the phone said he knew Lisa had a job a the bakery. He then proceeded to describe how he was going to drive to the cakeshop and kill everyone there.
“It could have just been somebody calling and they knew the area, and it could have been someone in Connecticut looking at a map,” Phillips notes. “But they knew that Lisa was there.”
There have been less murderous threats. Phillips said he was deeply wounded when his Christian opposition to same-sex marriage was somehow construed by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission as being morally equivalent to a Holocaust criminal.
It was perhaps the ultimate irony in the assault on Phillips’ battle for religious liberty. His father was not only wounded fighting the Nazis during the Second World War, he participated in the actual liberation of a concentration camp.
“For her to compare standing for my faith and not making a cake to Hitler’s atrocities just is unspeakable,” Phillips said.