SCOTUS Strikes Down Hostile Intolerance Toward Christian People


Prof. William Wagner

WFFC Distinguished Chair for Faith & Freedom at SAU

The Supreme Court today struck down an act of hostile intolerance against a Christian cake baker.

The Facts

Here a Colorado State commission enforced a pro-LGBTQ+ regulation against the local baker. The baker, Mr. Phillips, offered to provide baked goods to anyone shopping at his bakery, including to the same-sex couple filing the complaint against him.  The same-sex couple demanded that Phillips design a pro-LGBTQ cake for their same-sex “marriage” ceremony.  Phillips, a devout Christian man, compelled by religious conscience, refused to participate. Thereafter, the Colorado government attacked his religious conscience, upholding draconian fines against this Christian man.

Standing Against Hostile Government Conduct in the Supreme Court

Phillips’ case eventually made it to the United States Supreme Court.  Salt & Light Global’s Justice Center therefore filed a Supreme Court brief in the case. In the brief we represented business owners throughout the USA where government entities acted with hostility toward their sincerely held religious beliefs.  The Court agreed with our arguments that the First Amendment protects a person’s exercise of their religious conscience.

Moreover, the Court held governments cannot impose regulations:

  1. hostile to the religious beliefs of affected citizens;
  2. in a manner that pass judgment upon religious beliefs and practices;
  3. in a manner that presupposes the illegitimacy of religious beliefs and practices.

Colorado failed to meet the above Constitutional standard. The Court, therefore, invalidated the intolerant government action.

To cut through the fake news, click here for an excerpt of the Court’s holding

The Limited Nature of the Decision

While the decision is an important statement on the importance of religious liberty, the scope of this protection in the future is unknown. Here the Court struck down an governmental act of hostile intolerance against a Christian person. The limited nature of the decision though, leaves open to question what the Court might do in other cases with different facts. The Court did, however, draw one line.  If the government goes after a pastor who, based on religious conscience, refuses to marry a same-sex couple, that action undisputedly violates the First Amendment. Other factual circumstances though, still place Christian people at risk. Stay, therefore, vigilant.

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About the Author

Prof. William Wagner
WFFC Distinguished Chair for Faith & Freedom at SAU
Professor Wagner holds the WFFC Distinguished Chair for Faith & Freedom at Spring Arbor University. He has a special interest in building and preserving environments where Christians may share the Good News of Jesus, free from persecution and oppression.

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