These remarks were delivered by Rabbi Yaakov Menken at a rally held by the Centennial Institute, the public policy institute of Colorado Christian University, on behalf of Jack Phillips and the Masterpiece Cakeshop, on November 8, 2017. The Masterpiece Cakeshop was found to have engaged in discrimination because Mr. Phillips refrained from designing a cake on behalf of a same-sex couple. His case is being appealed to the US Supreme Court, which will hear arguments on the case in December.
I am so grateful for this opportunity to be with you today, with my thanks to Mr. Jeff Hunt, to Dr. Sweeting, to Amy Smith and to Staci Holt, and to everyone I don’t know — the efforts that you’ve all put in to making this event, and to making sure that my voice was part of it.
Because, for those who haven’t figured this out or noticed this yet, I’m Jewish. Who knew, right?
But… so besides being part of this incredible panoply of religious movements and denominations represented here … or should I say “rainbow?”
Don’t boo… Someone in the media will be broadcasting it, “Christian University boos Rabbi,” can’t do that!
There’s another very good reason for me to be here, which is that Jews have spent thousands of years being on the wrong end of discrimination and bigotry.
Think of Pharaoh in the book of Exodus, as Mr. Hunt mentioned. The Book of Esther, where Haman decides to exterminate the Jews. And for those who don’t believe those stories reflect history, let’s talk about expulsions, pogroms, massacres and the Holocaust.
Yes, we are very sensitive to discrimination, because we are very familiar with being hated for who we are.
CNN tells us that this case is about a “license to discriminate.” They are right, but not in the way that they think.
Jack Phillips says that he can only celebrate unions that accord with his beliefs. That is a positive statement, not a negative one. That is not discrimination, but discernment.
Refuse to prepare me a wedding cake because I’m a Jew, and that’s bigotry.
But if you can only celebrate a Southern Baptist marriage, I understand and respect your religion, and I would never imagine that I could somehow coerce you to violate your precepts. And that’s called tolerance.
And let me point out that if Mr. Phillips were to offer me a cake when one of my children G-d willing reaches this milestone, I would say thank you very much, Jack, but since you’re not running a Kosher bakery I can’t eat your cake.
And my desire to keep Kosher is in no way discriminatory against Mr. Phillips or anyone else. And neither is his desire to honor his own faith. Although if you do want to go Kosher I have people you can talk to.
You know what Jack’s problem is? He’s not discriminating enough. If he really did only bake cakes for Evangelicals celebrating their union, you couldn’t call it discrimination. He wouldn’t bake for Jews, he wouldn’t bake for Catholics, and no one at the ACLU would be able to jump up and try to call it something that it’s not.
But no, Jack had to simply follow what it says in the Bible. This is not in Leviticus, by the way. This is about the Book of Genesis. It’s very simple.
In the Book of Genesis it says that man and woman He created them, and then it says the man will cleave to his wife and they shall be one flesh, a reference to having children. The Bible connects marriage to “be fruitful and multiply.”
And Jack says, as long as it’s a man and a woman who are capable of becoming one flesh, I’m down with that. Because that’s what the Bible says.
You know why the Courts are confused? Because there are only two genders.
Because there are only two genders the Courts can pretend to be confused between favoring what the Bible calls matrimony, and discriminating against what the Bible calls abomination.
If space aliens were to land tomorrow, they would solve the problem.
Now some of you probably think I’m nuts, but let me explain.
Let’s imagine that ET comes to earth tomorrow. And someone falls in love with ET and decides to get married to ET. Trust me, in 2 years the Supreme Court would decide that under the US Constitution ET and Sally — or Bill — can get married.
But because aliens are not human beings, then despite what you’ve seen on Star Trek, it would be impossible for aliens and humans to have children together. That wouldn’t be the Biblical definition of marriage, and Jack Phillips would not be able to bake them a cake.
And then it would be obvious that he’s not discriminating against anyone. He’s not singling out same-gender couples for exclusion. On the contrary, he is saying he can only celebrate a Biblical marriage that involves a human man and human woman. And the ACLU would have to pack up and go home.
Are your lawyers taking notes, Jack?
I hope they are, because guess what’s coming next. If they can do this to the baker, well, the ADF already knows, they’re doing this to Arlene’s Flowers in the state of Washington. They might even do that to the minist… Oh wait a minute, they already did that in the fine state of Idaho. And now that the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel has re-incorporated, thanks to the ADF, as providing only “Christian religious services,” don’t I feel excluded, the ACLU says they can’t even sell flowers.
The courts are saying that religion is limited to how we talk and where we worship, and there is no protection regarding how we act and what behaviors we support. Now some of you may feel differently, but if free exercise of religion means running off at the mouth… hey Doc, the Supreme Court say I am exercising.
Need I tell you that this is dangerous to no one more than Jews; because our religion is all about action. The way we tie our shoes in the morning is a religious act. The fact that we dress and look differently is exercise of our religion. And we have libraries of books on how to do business in accordance with our faith. And our legal codes tell us that we are to give up our lives rather than buckle to government pressure to change the color of our shoelaces.
The Colorado Civil Rights Division and the lower courts have decided to force Mr. Phillips to change the way he practices his religion, or give up his business. If “exercise” of religion does not include exercise, then government can tell Jews whether we can do kosher slaughter or circumcise a child, because both of those are also done by trained professionals.
So no. If you tell us that we have freedom of speech and freedom of worship, but we cannot let religion guide how we do business, that is not religious freedom.
And we Jews have seen this before. We have long, bitter, deadly experience with governments trying to force us to follow earlier versions of political correctness. What is new and profoundly disturbing is the misuse of the language of civil rights to trample civil rights.
Just a few weeks ago, members of Abolish Human Abortion were ejected from a coffee shop operated by a gay man. They were denied service with prejudice and with profanity.
They did nothing inside the shop except ask for coffee. The owner deduced that if they opposed abortion on demand, they were probably in favor of Biblical morality in other areas as well.
So let there be no doubt about what’s really going on. The owner claimed that they were, quote, “trying to stir up hate,” though their literature talked about human rights and targeted no one. The owner projected his own bigotry onto them, to justify denying them their civil rights.
A writer for LGBTQ nation said, quote, “right wing blogs are enraged that a gay coffee shop owner kicked out a group of anti-choice religious nutjobs.” Listen carefully. Only right-wingers are bothered. Everyone else knows that anti-choice religious nutjobs don’t deserve a seat at the counter.
And at out.com they made it explicit, praising the store owner for denying the group service — and I quote — “based on their religious beliefs.” That’s right. It’s not about tolerance. It’s not about treating everyone with human dignity. And it’s certainly not about opposing discrimination. On the contrary, the people who are doing this are not against discrimination; out.com celebrates bigotry and discrimination against people of faith.
And yet for some reason, we all know how far the members of Abolish Human Abortion would get were they to decide to sue. In the current environment it’s only people of faith who can be described as bigots.
That is why this case is so important, and why the wrong decision would be so dangerous. Because the people who sued Jack Phillips are not opposed to discrimination, but expert practitioners of the craft.
And if they can do this to Christians, you can be darn well sure they’re gonna do it to Jews.
Jack, you’re fighting for all of us. You’re fighting for every American who tries to be guided by conviction and faith. And that is why it is so important that you win, and we wish you Godspeed, and good luck.
Thank you very much.