If Hobby Lobby doesn’t have to go against its convictions, neither should anyone else.
Over two years ago, a small business owner’s life was turned upside down by seemingly simple request:
“We’d like you to bake us a wedding cake.”
Despite turning down financial gain and simultaneously setting himself up for legal woes, Jack Phillips declined—stating that his religious convictions prevented him from condoning the couple’s gay marriage by baking the cake.
In the months and years that followed, Phillips indeed did face national legal scrutiny, as state officials in Colorado and nationally-known institutions like the ACLU got involved.
- Bake wedding cakes for gay couples,
- Submit himself and staff to state-run sensitivity training and
- Present reports on a quarterly basis to the state, proving his compliance.
Phillips did not commit a hate crime. Phillips did not ask the couple to leave his shop. In fact, Phillips offered to bake them anything else they wanted. He simply declined to provide a specific service (a wedding cake) based solely on staying true to his religious convictions.
Phillips is not alone. Take Elaine Huguenin, a New Mexico photographer who similarly declined to provide her services to a same-sex couple that wanted to hire her for their commitment ceremony based on her beliefs—and was likewise persecuted. Huguenin and her husband were ultimately ordered to pay the same-sex couple $7,000 dollars.
(It’s also worth noting that though it became legal in December of 2013, gay marriage wasn’t even legal in New Mexico at the time of Huguenin’s refusal to provide services.)
Oregon resident Aaron Klein of Sweet Cakes by Melissa also turned down a request to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding. After protests, death threats, and an anti-discrimination lawsuit filed by the lesbian couple with the state, the couple finally collapsed under the immense pressure—closing the doors of their bakery permanently in January of 2013.
Stephen Beale of Crisis Magazine listsother similar cases, including Jack Phillips and Elaine Huguenin, and ranging from wedding venues to flowers to more bakeries.
In the midst of these and other battles over a business owner’s right to operate according to religious convictions, Hobby Lobby was just dealt a major victory . . . and with it, there’s a chance to rectify the ills that these and so many other businesses have faced for standing up in defense of their faith.
The Supreme Court ruled that Hobby Lobby—a closely held corporation—doesn’t have to provide the four controversial forms of birth control that it deemed contrary to its deeply-held religious belief about their abortofacient properties.
So, why should Jack Phillips, Elaine Huguenin and Aaron Klein—et al—be any different? Why should any business owner be forced to provide a service (whether to its potential customers or to its employees) that runs in direct contrast to the faith that they hold about marriage, life in the womb, or any other tenant when the 1st Amendment (firmly bolstered by the 14th) clearly states that our freedom to believe as we please is to remain entirely protected?
In a day and age in which religious freedom has been under more attack than ever before, we must ensure that our nation looks to the Hobby Lobby case as precedent. What about pastors who refuse to perform gay wedding ceremonies? What about religious schools that teach that marriage exists between one man and one woman, and that ending a pregnancy is bad? What about parents who teach these now socially “uncouth” beliefs? We need the protection that a precedent like this Hobby Lobby decision sets in motion.
The ruling isn’t all encompassing—indeed, as Senator Dan Coats has noted, “the Court’s ruling applies only to a narrow group – family-owned, for-profit companies such as Hobby Lobby – most faith-based organizations, charities, hospitals and educational institutions are still required to facilitate insurance coverage that includes contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs, despite their religious beliefs and moral objections.”
It is, however, a pretty good start.