Missouri Family E-News

January 20, 2015

                 
Christian Cakemaker Compared to Slaveholders   

A Colorado bakery owner who declined to participate in a same-sex union ceremony has been compared with Nazis and slaveholders by a state civil rights official.

Transcripts from a meeting of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission reveal that Commissioner Diann Rice charged baker Jack Phillips with "using his religion to hurt others."

Phillips is the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado.  In 2012 Phillips declined a request by two homosexuals to bake a "wedding" cake for their same-sex union ceremony because of his religious beliefs. 

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission subsequently found Phillips guilty of "sexual orientation" discrmination.  The Commission ordered Phillips to bake such cakes in the future and to undergo sensitivity training on the acceptability of homosexuality.

Now attorneys for Phillips are charging the Commission with unconstitutional hostility toward religion.  Lawyers for the Alliance Defending Freedom have obtained transcripts of Commission proceedings in which Phillips was slandered for his faith.

"Freedom of religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery or the Holocaust...It is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use--to use their religion to hurt others," says Commissioner Rice during the proceedings.

Jeremy Tedesco, senior legal counsel for ADF, says that Commissioner Rice's comments calls into question the integrity of the Commission's review of the complaint filed against Jack Phillips.

"The Commissioner compared a private citizen who owns a small bakery to slaveholders and Holocaust perpetrators merely for asking that the state respect his right to free speech and free exercise of religion."

"Such alarming bias and hostility toward religion in general has no place in civil society, let alone on a governmental commission that sits in judgement of whether a man may follow his faith in how he runs his business."

ADF is appealing the Commission's decision in state court to the Colorado Court of Appeals.  Nicolle Martin is one the attorneys representing Phillips.

"The First Amendment plainly forbids this type of religious bias," Martin points out.  "But it's worse when an official justifies coercing the speech of a private citizen by citing their own personal hostility toward religion."

In the brief filed before the Court of Appeals, ADF emphasizes that freedom of speech encompasses the artistic license of a master cake decorator.

"Jack Phillips has dedicated his life's work to honoring his God.  As a devout follower of Jesus, he cannot use his gifts and artistic talents to create messages contrary to his religious convictions."

"The commission's final order compelling Phillips to make same-sex 'wedding' cakes forces him to abandon his life's work or violate his conscience and celebrate same-sex 'weddings' in order to make a living," the brief continues.

"This is no choice at all but a shameful and hostile use of the public accommodation statute that this court should condemn,"  the brief concludes.

Efforts are under way again in the Missouri Legislature to pass a law similar to that in Colorado which would prohibit so-called "sexual orientation" discrimination in public accommodations.

State Senator Joseph Keaveny of St. Louis has introduced this year's version of the bill, which is deceptively called the Missouri Non-Discrimination Act.

The terms of the bill would authorize the same kind of persecution and prosecution of Christian business owners that is now occurring repeatedly in states and communities that have such laws.

Senator Keaveny's bill is Senate Bill 237.


  

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Religious Liberty
Allies to Defend
 Atlanta Fire Chief

Religious liberty advocates are making plans to take the City of Atlanta to court over the recent dismissal of the city's fire chief.  Attorneys for the Alliance Defending Freedom are evaluating litigation choices to defend the constitutional rights of Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, who was fired because he is a Bible-believing Christian.

"Chief Cochran served the city of Atlanta with distinction," says ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot.  "The city fired him for nothing other than his faith, and that's not constitutional.  We are currently assessing the legal options available to vindicate his rights to free speech and freedom of religion."

Chief Cochran was suspended, and then discharged from his post as Atlanta Fire Chief by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed following a campaign of vilification by homosexual rights activists.  Cochran came under fire for authoring a book on Christian discipleship designed for men's Bible study groups.

In that book, the Fire Chief urged men to be committed husbands and fathers, and to be devoted to a lifestyle of sexual integrity.  Cochran counseled men to refrain from sexual conduct which would "dishonor God," including sex outside marriage, sex with multiple partners, and sex with individuals of the same gender.  The reference to homosexuality appears on one page of the 160-page book.

Mayor Reed castigated Cochran's book, claiming that it was "inflammatory," and an article of discrimination against the so-called "LGBT community."  Despite claiming to be a Christian,  Reed then canned Cochran for no other reason than that he quoted from passages from the Bible that true Christians believe.

Theriot sharply condemned the hollow hypocrisy and blatant bigotry of Mayor Reed's brutal behavior.  "Tolerance is a two-way street.  That's what a federal appeals court said not long ago about public officials who claim to love diversity while only tolerating views they themselves favor."

Cochran has served as a firefighter since 1981.  He was named Atlanta's Fire Chief in 2008.  He was appointed by President Obama as the nation's Fire Administrator in 2009, and returned to his job as Atlanta Fire Chief the following year.

Mayor Reed's ruthless treatment of a kindly Christian man with a decorated career in the fire service has provoked sustained outrage across the country, particularly in the African-American community.  Hundreds gathered in the Georgia State Capitol Building last week for a rally in support of Cochran, demanding that he be reinstated to his job.

"Chief Cochran has spent a lifetime, ready at a moment's notice, to fight the fires that threaten life and property," said Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, at the rally.  "Today, he stands ready to fight the fire and flame of intolerance that threatens the freedom of every American."

"The naked truth is that the actions against the Chief are designed to send a message that will silence Christians and force them to check their faith at the door of public service," Perkins added.  "We must not let that happen in the United States of America."

Addressing the crowd gathered to support him at the Georgia Capitol, Chief Cochran says the nature of his dismissal sends a message of intimidation to Christians in the workplace. "If you seek to live out the true meaning of our nation's pledge and Constitution through a living faith--if you believe that sex should be between a man and a woman in the bonds of holy matrimony--we have now made a statement that you better keep your mouth shut or you will be fired."
Chief Cochran says he feels he has no choice but to seek legal action against the city.  "There are so many others out there, whether they be police chiefs, fire chiefs, military folks.  When they see this can happen in a large city like Atlanta, they will say 'I've got to put my Bible under my desk and keep my mouth shut about what I believe'...This is a warning to every American that freedom of speech and freedom of religion are hanging by a thread, which will snap if we don't fight to preserve these cherished protections. "

Cochran thanked the crowd for supporting his family, and said he had drawn comfort from the Scripture passage found in 1 Peter 4:12-13:  "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you...but rejoice inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ's suffering that when His glory shall be revealed you shall be glad with exceeding joy."

Supporters of Chief Cochran left the rally and marched to Atlanta City Hall, where they delivered boxes of petitions demanding that the Fire Chief be restored to his job.  More than 100,000 signatures have been obtained in a short time by the Georgia Baptist Convention and other pro-family organizations, and the number keeps climbing.

If you have not already done so, we encourage you to sign the FRC petition in support of Chief Cochran.  You can do so at this link:
Support Chief Cochran

You may also wish to support the Chief by purchasing his book, Who Told You That You Were Naked?  You can find it on Amazon at this link:
Chief Cochran Bible Study

Chief Cochran says he has been miscast by "gay rights" activists as a person of prejudice.  "My spiritual convictions regarding sexuality do not equate to anger, hatred, or malice toward LGBT members," Cochran says. 

"The greatest of my Christian values is a love without condition for all humankind.  In the fire service I have had the privilege to live out this virtue everyday for the past 34 years--to the extent that I would lay down my life for anyone in the communities of which I have had the privilege to serve."

Please be praying for Kelvin Cochran and his wife and three children as they endure this traumatic attack on their character as sincere believers in Jesus Christ.  If Chief Cochran can be chased out of his career simply because he believes in the Word of God, then the religious liberty of every Christian in America is at risk.

Joe's Signature