Dr. Peter Scaer, recently returned from Tanzania, was on one of our local radio stations this afternoon (WOWO 1190 AM, 107.5 FM) to discuss the Supreme Court decision in the case of Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker being sued for declining to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. He had served this couple before and – even in the course of his refusal – offered to serve them again for any other celebration, but felt that he could not use his artistic ability to condone a union contrary to his beliefs. For more details, see this article from the Reporter Online. It’s an old one, published in December of last year, but still effectively summarizes the case.
The Supreme Court decided in favor of Jack Phillips in a 7-2 decision. However, rather than taking on the larger issues of freedom of religion and how that intersects with refusal of service, the decision focused on the anti-religious bias by the Colorado Civil Right Commission towards Jack Phillips, stating that laws need to be applied to religion in a neutral way. Though many doors into the issue of religious liberty thus remain open, Dr. Scaer celebrated the decision for Jack’s sake. “It’s a huge victory for Jack Phillips,” he said. “He’s one of the kindest people you’ll meet, he’s a humble person, a loving person, the kind of person you want as your neighbor. He could’ve lost everything here.”
As to true tolerance: “[We should] live with one another with our disagreements,” Dr. Scaer explained. “It doesn’t always have to be the destruction of a business, the destruction of a life. This is an agenda thing…this is politically hyped. When you actually get together and talk…face to face, person to person, we get along just great. But you bring in the lawyers, you bring in the politicians, and it sours.
“We can smile at one another,” he said, “even when we disagree.” Meaning we should speak, in the words of Ephesians 4:15, “the truth in love.”
From the LSB section on Prayers, Intercessions, and Thanksgivings:
Almighty, everlasting God, through Your only Son, our blessed Lord, You commanded us to love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, and to pray for those who persecute us. Therefore, we earnestly implore You that by Your gracious working our enemies may be led to true repentance, may have the same love toward us as we have toward them, and may be of one accord and of one mind and heart with us and with Your whole Church; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Pulled from the Reporter Online, the official newspaper of the LCMS, here is President Harrison’s response to the ruling:
“The decision, while a victory for Phillips, is not all that those concerned about First Amendment rights and religious freedom might have hoped. It appears at first glance that Justice Kennedy, the court’s perennial swing vote, did not see the case as a broader First Amendment issue, as his statements in the oral arguments and decision of the Obergefell case might have indicated. We shall continue to work and pray for reasonable laws and court interpretations which find the balance between the protection of religious and ‘free exercise’ rights of Christians over against the civil rights of others.”