Is There Hope for Religious Freedom?

Yesterday’s United States Supreme Court decision brought hope that religious freedom in America may indeed continue.

You probably know the particulars in the case. In 2012, a gay couple asked a Colorado baker to prepare a cake celebrating their same-sex wedding. The baker declined on the basis of his deeply held religious belief that same-sex weddings violate the teachings of Scripture.

The baker did not refuse the couple service in any other aspect of his business. He simply refused to bake a cake celebrating a same-sex marriage. The couple filed suit and the case went to several courts in Colorado. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission first heard the complaint and ruled against baker Jack Phillips. The Commission determined that Phillips must either change his views or quit baking cakes. Phillips chose not to bake cakes. The Commission also demanded that Phillips educate his employees on anti-discrimination laws. Phillips appealed to Colorado courts which upheld the state commissions’s ruling.

When the Supreme Court overturned the ruling, it mentioned the bias held by the Colorado Commission on Civil Rights against Phillip’s religious beliefs. The majority opinion (a 7-2 ruling) led by Justice Kennedy described an anti-religious bias on the Commission. Kennedy said that comments by a commission member seemed “neither tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips religious beliefs.” The Commission also commended other bakers who refused to bake cakes opposed to same-sex marriage.

The ruling for now gives hope that the freedom to hold religious beliefs will be upheld and that First Amendment freedoms will continue to be a bedrock of American hopes and dreams.

What does this case show?

First, the case makes our freedom clear. We have been granted freedoms by our Creator, and we should hold those freedoms dear. We must never give them up.

Second, the 7-2 decision, while not unanimous (Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor dissented), is a strong decision which shows the clear understanding concerning the freedom to practice our religious beliefs without the interference of government.

Third, this reminds us of the strategic importance of those who will be appointed to the court.

Fourth, I am reminded to pray for all those in authority and to seek elected leaders who love the country and its constitution.

Fifth, we must be strong and courageous in our understanding of holy Scripture and its power for our society and our world.

Sixth, we must be caring and kind to those who disagree with us, always being ready to always give the reason for our hope in Christ but with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).

Finally, this reminds me to bow humbly before God and seek His mercy.

 

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About Waylon

I am the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington, Louisiana, a position that I have held since 1989.

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A person finds joy in giving an apt reply— and how good is a timely word! — Proverbs 15:23 (NIV)