Charlottesville, Virginia: Demonizing Thomas Jefferson and Continuing to Foreclose Education and Free Speech

THOMAS JEFFERSON - statue at U-VA

by Diane Rufino, July 6, 2019

On July 2, the Charlottesville (Virginia) City Council voted to no longer recognize Thomas Jefferson’s birthday, April 13, as a celebrated a paid holiday. Charlottesville is the hometown of our country’s most renown Founding Father. It is the home his sprawling hilltop estate, Monticello. In fact, it’s hard to think of Charlottesville, Virginia, without thinking of Jefferson. He was born there in 1743 and he died there, and Monticello was always the place he called home and the place where he found his greatest inspiration and greatest comfort.

Monticello draws almost half a million visitors annually and the town benefits greatly from that tourism.

According to local news, “city officials voted to scrap the holiday in honor of the slave-owning third president of the United States and instead adopt Liberation and Freedom Day, to be celebrated each March 3.” The city council’s decision came just days after James Fields Jr., the 22-year-old driver convicted of killing a woman and injuring dozens of other people at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017, was sentenced to life behind bars.

Jason Hill, a professor at DePaul University in Chicago, said: “I think this was a great man that helped found this country. If we start by retroactively looking at the sins of great figures who have made enormous contributions to western philosophy, we are going to be left with a decimated history.” Professor Hill is an African-American who is not one of those who is unable to review history except thru the lens of slavery. While he refers to slavery as a “birth defect” of the United States, he acknowledges that Jefferson’s legacy, the Declaration of Independence in particular, was ultimately used to freed people from its bonds.

Hill accuses Jefferson of being a flawed man, as evidenced by his ownership of slaves, but his legacy which includes enormous contributions to America far outweighs that single flaw.

It should be mentioned that since slavery was an established institution in the states, and since it was recognized and protected by the Constitution, that almost all of our Founding Fathers from the more southern states and tied to an agrarian economy can be accused of practicing something that was perfectly legal and acceptable at the time. We will be hard-pressed to find any of our Founding Fathers or leading historical figures from any of the southern states who either didn’t own slaves or who didn’t say even something that might be taken as insensitive by today’s civil rights standards. The fact is that today’s hyper-sensitivity to our pre-13th Amendment past prejudices southern historical figures. We cannot judge our forefathers by the social norms of our current times.

What disturbs me, intellectually, aside from the very public snub of the man who gave us our “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” and who gave us the notion of inalienable rights, as opposed to government-granted rights, thereby establishing our American system that values the protection and security of those rights over the longevity of government, is that Charlottesville choice to observe a far more offensive event. The Charlottesville City Council voted to substitute March 3 – that day in 1865 when Union General Philip Sheridan’s troops entered the town and found a population that was majority African-American (most of them being slaves) – as the new “official holiday.”

Why do I say this event is offensive? First of all, the act of the Northern states, having control of the federal government, attacking, invading, and subjugating the Southern states back into the union was the ultimate act of government tyranny. It was unconstitutional on every single level, including an outright violation of paragraph two of Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. The Southern states had duly and lawfully left the union and established an independent and sovereign new nation. The invasion of the South had nothing to do with slavery, as an honest historian and researcher well knows. It was about the North deciding that the union needed the southern states and that an independent Confederate States of America posed great threats to the interests of the North. Virginia did not secede to protect slavery or to maintain slavery; when Virginia finally voted to secede, it was because Abraham Lincoln demanded the state send its share of 750,000 troops to fight its southern neighbors. Virginia, respecting the principles in the Declaration and respecting the understanding the states had when they adopted the Constitution and agreeing to be loosely-held in a union, knew that the Constitution would never sanction the government demanding that one state take up arms against another state. Jefferson, as it turned out, was the most vocal proponent of the proper remedies states are entitled to when they simply no longer get along or find enough common interests – with the most fundamental being secession. After all, the colonies seceded from Great Britain with the Declaration – a secessionist document. [The first paragraph opens up: “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them…” (ie, It becomes necessary to secede from the government it has been associated with and establish an independence). And the last final paragraph reads: “We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.”]

Second, Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation, by executive order, on January 1, 1863. It did nothing to free any slave in the southern states because the southern states had seceded from the union and therefore dissolved its association with the federal government. It was intended as a war measure to incite slave rebellions in the South, and particularly against the women and children who were left home on the farms/plantations (while the men were off fighting). It was an insidious war measure but Lincoln hoped the men fighting would leave the battlefield and go back to their homes and their farms/plantations. What the Emancipation did allow, however, was the freeing of slaves in any territory that the Union forces captured and took control of. This certainly would have been something, right? But the truth is that essentially not a single Union general exercised his discretion to free the slaves. And this was what happened in Charlottesville. While some of the slaves may have used the Union occupation to try to escape their condition, it was not Sheridan who granted them freedom. It was not the Emancipation Proclamation which freed them. Sheridan was a cold killer. After the Civil War, he was given the task of slaughtering the American Indians and moving them off land that the federal government wanted.

So what exactly did the Charlottesville City Council vote to endorse while impugning Thomas Jefferson? They chose to endorse slavery. They chose to endorse the view by the Union that slaves should not be freed, even when agents of that government (Union generals) had the discretion to do so. They chose to endorse the notion that the federal government has the absolute right to order one state to invade, wreak violence, and subjugate another state with whom it disagrees with. They chose to endorse the notion that the federal government is supreme and has the right to subjugate the states to its views and to its whims, including as dictated and coopted by an absolute tyrant.

Charlottesville not only voted to reject Thomas Jefferson but it voted to reject the Declaration of Independence as well.

Virginia sure has come a long way. An how utterly shameful it has become.

In March of this year, some students at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. called for the removal of a Jefferson statue from the campus, claiming he represented racism and slavery. I find it troubling that they would associate Thomas Jefferson with racism and slavery rather than as the author of the Declaration of Independence or the father to the liberties and rights that they obviously take for granted. I find it troubling that college students are that unintelligent and that uninformed as to our country’s history, although after listening to college students speak these days, I am not surprised.

I am sorry that our country has a checkered history. I am sorry that the British imposed slavery on our colonies and that the colonies embraced the ownership and forced labor of fellow human beings. I am, however, grateful that several of our founders tried very hard to abolish it early on – before we formed our union of states. Truth be told, the very man that modern liberals like to demonize, Thomas Jefferson, had several plans to abolish slavery or at least to minimize it and to transition to freedom. Even prior to the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Thomas Jefferson proposed (in 1779) a policy of gradual emancipation, education and training, and possible re-location and colonization as a practical solution to end the legal enslavement of human beings (ie, chattel slavery). He believed education and training were absolutely necessary and must be part of the plan to abolish slavery because liberating people who were unprepared for total freedom would be a recipe for disaster. They would need to be able to support themselves and live in dignity. He wanted Africans to be successful and to build successful black communities. In 1784, Jefferson proposed federal legislation that would ban slavery in the New Territories of the North and South after 1800, which ended up failing to pass Congress by only one vote. In his Notes on the State of Virginia, which he published in 1785, Jefferson expressed the beliefs that slavery corrupted both masters and slaves alike and promoted the idea that African-Americans were inferior in intelligence. Again, Jefferson seemed to be looking out for Africans and not looking to keep them in bondage. In 1807, President Jefferson signed legislation to finally abolish the slave trade to the United States.

I am sorry that today’s liberals are so fragile-minded, so fragile psychologically and emotionally, so intellectually stunted, and so intolerant that the sight of Thomas Jefferson or even the mention of his name shatters their fragility and reduces them to absolute moron-ity. I’m sorry that today’s liberals have taken a position to move our notions of civility backwards in the United States. Modern Americans are the very examples of what our Founders hoped could be avoided by giving individuals a country devoted to freedom (and finally, to equality) and instilling in them the responsibility to defend it. Today’s liberals are mental midgets, more obsessed with a long-dead institution than with the health and stability of our country. I’m sorry that slavery continues to dominate our national discourse and taint our ability to come together to celebrate shared values, shared ideals, and shared dreams. I’m sorry that the history of one particular race continues to dictate what can be discussed, celebrated, acknowledged, taught, or included on plaques, memorialized in statue form, inscribed on buildings, in this country. I’m sorry that certain individuals are completely incapable of seeing things without looking at them through a lens of color.

I wish these individuals, these loud-mouths, these trouble-makers and rubble-rousers, would exercise the same tolerance that they demand of others.

Nowhere in the Bill of Rights does it guarantee that individuals have a right NOT to be offended or to feel offended, or the right NOT to be confronted by events in history that happen to offend them. In fact, these rights are not even included in the progressives’ version of the Bill of Rights (authored by FDR who referred to it as “The Second Bill of Rights). This “Second Bill of Rights,” pushed so strongly by FDR, then Truman, then LBJ, then Nixon, then Clinton, and then, to some extent George Bush was an attempt by liberal/progressive-minded presidents to mitigate the “evils” that naturally arise in a free market, capitalistic society – one based on competition and ambition and hard work. The results of our American system (the “evils”), as FDR believed, are primarily economic inequality and to a lesser degree, social inequality. This “Second Bill of Rights” includes the “right” to a job, food, a home clothing, healthcare, a good education, and recreation, and the freedom from the “fear” of unemployment, old age, sickness, and unfair competition.

The First Amendment guarantees the right of FREE speech – not sensitive speech, not politically-correct speech, not sanitized speech… but FREE speech. The First Amendment guarantees that every spoken word, every written word, every historical event, every statue, every plaque, every painting, every work of art is an opportunity for discussion and debate. It is an opportunity for more speech. It is always a learning or teaching opportunity – something to sharpen our minds and our understanding, and NOT to foreclose it to views that others, including government, want to dominate.

The sad thing is that there is a group of individuals – a group much larger than the current liberal snowflakes I am referring to above – that has no connection to slavery, has no part in any efforts to discriminate or any past action of discrimination, and has no discriminatory mindset or discriminatory heart, but who absolutely loves this country, recognizes its history (both good and bad), and values the lessons we had to learn as a fledgling nation predicated on the equal rights of man. Our entire history has made us the country we are today, for good or for bad – but always as a subject for discussion and political views. I am a second or third generation American, depending on whether you look from my mother’s side of the family or my father’s. My family came to the United States from Italy prior to WWI, with little money in their pockets and with no safety net or entitlements to help them. Italians in the day were not a popular ethnic group and as our immigration laws in the 1920’s showed (set limits on the number of immigrants from Italy to limit their population in the US) and as employment signed showed (“No Italians need apply”), they were generally not welcome. But Italians don’t languish over their mistreatment; rather, they quickly became one of the most patriotic and loyal of ethnic groups

The people that I know and that I associate with (mostly white since I am a white woman) do not possess the thought process that says that just because a person has a different skin color, he or she is of a different worth or has less dignity as a human being. We often don’t possess the thought process that directs us to review and scrutinize everything we write and say to make sure that absolutely nothing can be misconstrued, mistaken, or twisted into showing us to be discriminatory or to be otherwise insensitive to others. It’s because we come from a place where we don’t discriminate and we don’t set out in any way, shape, or form to be insensitive to others. Most of us are like this because of our deep foundation in religion. We respect one another because we are taught to love one another; strong communities are founded on mutual respect and a fondness for one another. The problem is that our current culture of racial divide, the constant flinging of the terms “racist” and “white supremist” are imputing on well-intentioned white people a tendency – always a tendency, as President Obama, Michele Obama, and Hillary Clinton publicly stated – to be these terrible things and to inherently look down on black people. It’s not fair to the vast majority of white persons and this problem needs to be addressed. Something needs to done to protect white people and their free exercise of the First Amendment, without the automatic presumption of discrimination.

Maybe we’ve dwelled on slavery and on past discrimination for too long. Maybe we’ve retreated to political correctness for too long to avoid honest conversations about the state of race relations and the effect of history on our current status. Perhaps we’ve allowed African-Americans, too fragile to think outside the “slavery and discrimination” box, to control the dialogue for too long. Thomas Sowell once said: “When people get used to preferential treatment, equal treatment seems like discrimination.” Maybe for once we should really trying treating everyone as equals rather than as special.

It is a true denial of the free speech rights of others and an exercise of true intolerance when certain individuals refuse to see things without looking at them through a lens of color. How far can it go? I think the Charlottesville city council vote is one example. In their myopathy, they chose to discard Thomas Jefferson in favor of another form of acceptance of slavery and in favor of government tyranny. Of course, the war against Confederate monuments and leaders is another example.

In closing, I want to emphasize again that I wish today’s liberals and race mongers would exercise the same tolerance that they demand of others.

 

- 0000 (3)

 

Reference: “Charlottesville Will No Longer Celebrate Thomas Jefferson’s Birthday in His Virginia Hometown,” FOX News. Referenced at: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/charlottesville-will-no-longer-celebrate-thomas-jeffersons-birthday-in-his-virginia-hometown-report

Advertisements

Religious Liberty is Still Under Attack

jack phillips - with his cakes, masterpiece cake shop (photo credit - matthew staver for the new york times)

(Photo Credit – Matthew Staver for The New York Times)

by Diane Rufino, January 11, 2019

GREAT NEWS !!

But first the bad news:  Religious liberty continues to be in jeopardy in Colorado, the home of Christian baker and cake artist, Jack Phillips, and his Masterpiece Cakeshop.

But here is the good news:  The judicial system has once again ruled in its favor. A federal district court in Denver has ruled that Christian cake artist and baker, Jack Phillips, can proceed in his lawsuit against the State of Colorado for its alleged continued harassment of him on account of his religious beliefs. The district court, in allowing the case to go forward, found there is evidence that there continues to be hostility against Phillips on account of his religious beliefs which is responsible for the unequal treatment against him.

You may remember that Phillips was censured by the state of Colorado (the Colorado Civil Rights Commission) for declining to create a cake for a same-sex couple back in 2012. The couple had asked for a 7-layer cake, representing the colors of the rainbow, with two men in tuxedos being married on top. Phillips declined the request, explaining that the message he would be sending through his design would offend his sincerely and deeply-held religious beliefs. The couple filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission claiming Phillips and the Masterpiece Cakeshop discriminated against them in violation of the state’s public accommodations law, the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA). The Commission agreed and ordered the cakeshop owner and his staff to undergo a rigorous re-education program (teaching “tolerance”), as well as to invoke certain serious restrictions on them [by requiring that he bake cakes for same-sex couples (ie, he cannot discriminate for any reason) and requiring that he and his staff record, subject to regular state audits, every customer who requests a custom cake and the reasons when a request is denied]. Phillips appealed but was denied, and then finally appealed the Commission’s decision to the Colorado appellate court. The court upheld the Commission’s finding and decision. Phillips chose to stop creating wedding cakes rather than cave to government coercion. He lost a significant portion of his income and could no longer support the staff he had working for him. He, with help from the pro-First Amendment legal team, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.

In June 2018, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in the case (Phillips v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission), ruling that Phillips was wrongfully prosecuted for declining to bake the cake. Rather than address the actual issue of “compelled speech” or religious liberty (see below), the decision rested on the obvious hostility towards religion that clearly motivated the Commission to take action and penalize the Christian baker. For example, in 2014, Commissioner Diann Rice makes the following comment just before denying Phillips’ request to temporarily suspend the commission’s re-education order:

“I would also like to reiterate what we said in…the last meeting [concerning Jack Phillips]. Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust… I mean, we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use – to use their religion to hurt others.”

On June 26, 2017, the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Jack Phillip’s appeal, an attorney, Autumn Scardina, called Masterpiece Cakeshop and requested a birthday cake. During a discussion of the customer’s preferred specifications for the confection, Scardina revealed that she wanted the cake to have a pink interior and a blue exterior. Then she added that the colors were to celebrate her coming out as transgender on her birthday, some years earlier. At that point, Debi Phillips (Jack’s wife, and the co-owner of the cake shop) declined to create the cake because of the Phillips’ belief that gender is biological, and immutable.

Scardina later asked Phillips to design a cake with satanic themes and images—a request that Phillips also declined because of the message the cake would communicate. Scardina then filed a civil rights complaint against Phillips and his Masterpiece Cakeshop with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, charging discrimination on the basis of gender identity, a protected status under Colorado anti-discrimination law.

Less than a month after the Supreme Court ruled for Phillips in his first case (June 2018), the state of Colorado surprised him by finding probable cause to believe that he violated the CADA by declining to create the requested gender-transition cake. The Commission concluded that the statute includes transgender individuals in its prohibition against discrimination based on gender.

As with his decision not to create a cake celebrating gay pride and same-sex marriage, Phillips’ decision not to make the pink/blue cake which clearly was intended to express a message celebrating Scardina’s transgender status was based on his connection to (and what outsiders might view as his acceptance of) that message and not based on the identity of the customer.

In response to this renewed attack against him, Jack Phillips and his lawyers with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed their own suit, in the US district court in Denver, against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and specifically, Aubrey Elenis, the director of the Colorado Civil Rights Division. It was Elenis who issued the finding that that there is “sufficient evidence” to support a claim of discrimination against Phillips. ADF argued that “the state of Colorado is violating Phillips’ First Amendment free exercise of religion rights by continuing to treat him differently than other cake artists and by acting with hostility toward him and his faith.”  District court Judge Wiley Y. Daniel issued a ruling on January 4, concluding that Phillips may proceed with a second lawsuit claiming the state of Colorado is again wrongly prosecuting him. Judge Daniel said there is evidence of unequal treatment against Phillips, given that the state of Colorado, through the Commission, allows other cake artists to decline requests to create cakes “that express messages they deem objectionable and would not express for anyone.” This “disparate treatment,” the court said, “reveals” the state officials’ ongoing “hostility towards Phillips, which is sufficient to establish they are pursuing the discrimination charges against Phillips in bad faith, motivated by Phillips’ religion….” The ruling further added that Phillips “has adequately alleged his speech is being chilled by the credible threat of prosecution.”

A commissioner set to decide the state’s new case against Phillips has publicly referred to him as a ‘hater’ on Twitter, which was just one of several clear indications of the commission’s ongoing bias against him, the bad faith motivating its continued harassment of him, and its outright hostility towards his beliefs.

ADF also argued that Colorado is infringing Phillips’s due process rights, and that the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Commission’s adjudicative process is flawed because the same commissioners act as both accusers and adjudicators in the same case, an arrangement that the Supreme Court condemned in a 2016 decision. There is probably a 14th Amendment challenge as well, alleging arbitrary treatment under its Anti-Discrimination statute.

It is important to understand the issues at the center of this continued hostility towards Jack Phillips. It is not simply the case of one person claiming another violated his civil rights or aggieved him in some way. It is not simply the case of an employer being sued because he offer a job to someone else instead of the minority candidate. This situation is one where the state itself has taken a formal position that anti-discrimination rights and the rights of groups like the LGBT and transgender community are more important than the historic and founding right of religious freedom. Today it may be the state that is trying to take away our religious liberty right, but tomorrow, it may be 30 states, and then the federal government itself. The landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Phillips v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission stemmed from the baker’s refusal, on the basis of his faith, to design a custom cake celebrating a same-sex wedding. The Colorado government then attempted to compel him to do so, and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission treated Phillips with open hostility, even comparing his invocation of sincere religious beliefs to defense of the Holocaust. Additionally, they treated him differently from other cake artists who had declined to design custom cakes because of the images they would have conveyed.

The Supreme Court found that Jack Phillips did not act out of animus (hatred) when he politely declined to make the same-sex couple a cake celebrating gay pride and same-sex marriage [which was not allowed, by the way, in the state of Colorado at the time of the suit (2012); in fact, according to the state constitution, the only marriage recognized in the state was between a man and a woman]. He offered them any other cake he had in the shop and offered to bake them any cake they liked, but he just could not “create” an artistic cake to celebrate same-sex marriage.

Animus and blind intolerance form the crux that makes discrimination so offensive. But that is not what happened in the case of Phillips v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. It was a case of a man, a Christian, believing the First Amendment protected him in his right to exercise his deeply-held religious beliefs (Free Exercise of Religion) and protected him from being coerced into expressing a viewpoint that goes directly against what he believes (Free Speech and the Right to be free from compelled Speech).

The Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (or CADA) outlaws discrimination in the area of public services, goods, and accommodations – yet it makes several exceptions for certain groups of people who have particular sensitivities – such as Muslims (can refuse a customer if they feel it offends Allah or the Koran), atheists (obvious; they don’t have to be compelled to make anything with a cross or a bible verse, etc), and African-Americans (don’t have to accept business which they feel discriminates against them, or which represents white supremacy). We all know that discrimination, in many forms, continues to exist in the marketplace. Fashion designers who were outraged over Trump’s election refused to design for our stunning First Lady, Melania (wow, what a stupid decision there!)  Bruce Springsteen and other artists refused to perform concerts for those who hold political views they don’t agree with. Businesses choose states to move to or expand to that are favorable to their political views, and reject those that are unfavorable. The list goes on.

Indeed, over his years as a cake artist, Phillips has declined to create cakes with various messages that violate his faith, including messages that demean LGBT people, express racism, celebrate Halloween, promote marijuana use, and celebrate or support Satan. It was the refusal to create a custom cake for the same-sex couple, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, and the backlash created by the LGBT community, that prompted the Colorado Civil Rights Commission (tasked with reviewing challenges under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act) to file a suit against him. As the ADA continues to explain: “Jack serves all customers…But Jack doesn’t create custom cakes that express messages or celebrate events in conflict with his deeply-held beliefs.”  He will tell you the same thing himself.

Apparently, tolerance is not a two-way street.

In addressing the issues presented in Jack Phillip’s case against the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Commission – Phillips v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (2018 decision), the Supreme Court focused primarily on his claim that CADA, and the Commission itself (ie, the state of Colorado) was forcing or compelling him to engage in speech that he disagreed with.  The creative process whereby Phillips designed a custom cake to represent and mark the particular occasion is a form “expression” or “expressive speech,” which is protected under the First Amendment’s Freedom of Speech provision. Therefore, as his ADF lawyers argued, he cannot be compelled or forced to create a cake that delivers a message that the government demands him to deliver but that he personally opposes.

And the Supreme Court has upheld such a view. In its “compelled speech” rulings, the Supreme Court has protected the right not to be forced to say, do, or create anything expressing a message that one rejects. Its most famous cases are West Virginia v. Barnette (1943) and Wooley v. Maynard (1977). In the Barnette opinion, the Court barred a state from denying Jehovah’s Witnesses the right to attend public schools if they refused to salute the flag, and in the Maynard opinion, it prevented New Hampshire from denying people the right to drive if they refused to display on license plates the state’s libertarian-flavored motto “live free or die.” The justices of the Supreme Court addressed both cases during oral arguments and referenced them in the Court’s opinion as well.

The question, of course, was whether the liberal members of the Supreme Court would agree that cake design constitutes “expression.”  It turned out that all agreed that it does.

The main purpose of having a cake “created,” as opposed to buying a ready-made cake, isn’t to satisfy a sweet tooth or to top off the meal; the main purpose is aesthetic and expressive. That is why they are displayed in such a creative way or in a choreographed fashion at receptions or parties, and that is why they are often the center of a live program (such as the feeding of the cake by the bride and groom to one another), much like a prop in a play.  Luckily, the Court was able to distinguish between simple goods and services (not requiring expression) and services like those offered by Jack in creating a custom cake, which involve expression.

In that case, NC Family co-signed a “friend-of-the-court” brief to the U.S. Supreme Court and, in November 2017, led a North Carolina delegation of concerned citizens (including myself and several of my friends) to Washington, D.C. to show support for religious liberty and Phillips. In June 2018, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in Phillips’ favor.

While progressives (like those who sued Phillips in the 2017 case for not baking a gay marriage celebration theme for a same-sex couple, and now those currently suing him, transgenders) believe the First Amendment must remain silent when a person’s views make another feel uncomfortable or hurt their feelings or make them feel undignified, or when a person’s religious beliefs result in what may be viewed as discrimination against a group of persons, the reality is that the First Amendment has no “conditions” on it. And, as the plain language of the Amendment, as well as the Preamble to the Bill of Rights, makes clear, there is no right for the federal government to impose any conditions on it.  Incorporation of the First Amendment on the States (thru the 14th Amendment, or even per the Bill of Rights included in the state constitution) prohibits the state legislature as well from making any law that abridges the right of free speech and the right to exercise one’s religious beliefs. The First Amendment is precisely needed when one’s ideas offend others or when it contradicts the orthodoxies of the reigning social and political majority. In those times, in particular, it protects more than one’s freedom to speak one’s mind; it also guards one’s freedom not to be forced, compelled, or coerced (including by law) to speak the mind of another.

Here is some sobering information:  Since 2014, approximately $9.9 million in grant funding has been collected for the sole purpose to oppose religious liberty and protections for religious freedom.  Welcome to the new America. The grants predominantly come from LGBT groups, backers of the LGBT movement, abortion supporters, and those calling for government-provided contraception coverage. These grantees, in general, hold the position that abortion rights and anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT individuals are equally important, or more important than religious freedom. Next time you hear the LGBT community demand tolerance, keep this in mind.

Again, welcome to the new America.

Friends, the fight continues.  Either we have the Right to Speak freely or we don’t.  Either we have the Right to Believe as we want and to Freely Exercise our Religion or we don’t. In other words, either we are free or we are not.

I will keep you updated as this new case develops.

 

- 000000 (7)

References:

NC Family Staff, “Jack Phillips Can Continue His Fight Against Government Harassment,” NC Family Policy Council bulletin, January 11, 2019.  Referenced at:  http://my.ncfamily.org/site/MessageViewer?em_id=5170.0&dlv_id=9031

Robert P. George and Sherif Girgis, “Opinion: First Amendment Wedding Cake,” New York Times, December 4, 2017.  Referenced at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/04/opinion/first-amendment-wedding-cake.html

“Colorado Loses Bd to Dismiss Cake Artist’s Lawsuit,” Alliance Defending Freedom, January 7, 2019.  Referenced at:  https://www.adflegal.org/detailspages/press-release-details/colorado-loses-bid-to-dismiss-cake-artist-s-lawsuit

“Christian Cake Baker’s Second Lawsuit Can Go Forward, Federal Judge Says,” Catholic News Agency, January 7, 2019.  Referenced at:  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/christian-cake-bakers-second-lawsuit-can-go-forward-federal-judge-says-24315

“Revealed: Colorado Commission Compared Cake Artist to Nazi,” Alliance Defending Freedom, January 12, 2015.  Referenced at:  http://www.adfmedia.org/News/PRDetail/9479