Jack Phillips Dragged Back to Court

It may be easier to just bake the cake, but Christians have a higher calling.  


John Stonestreet

Jared Hayden

This past month, cake artist and business owner Jack Phillips was back in court. After a Supreme Court win and 12 years of legal battles, an LGBTQ activist has continued to harass Phillips for his Christian convictions and his presumption to act upon them. 

Jack was first taken to court by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission in 2012, when he respectfully declined to bake a cake for a same-sex “wedding.” The couple pursued legal action against Jack despite his offer to serve them anything in his store and his recommendation of other cake shops that would gladly take their order. The case ended with a 7-2 ruling for Jack in the United States Supreme Court with a strong condemnation of the state of Colorado for its “clear and impermissible hostility” toward his faith.   

However, the state went after Jack again soon after for refusing a request to design a cake in celebration of a “gender transition.” This time, the Alliance Defending Freedom filed a countersuit on behalf of Jack against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. They backed down.  

Though that should have been the end of Jack’s troubles, it wasn’t. After months of repeated harassment and increasingly bizarre and perverse cake requests, the trans activist who had requested the “gender transition” cake filed a civil suit against Jack Phillips. The request to dismiss was denied by a progressive judge, and a lower court ruled against Jack. The Alliance Defending Freedom appealed the decision in the Colorado state supreme court.  

I attended the oral arguments, which were heard earlier this month, and the press conferences afterward. The contrast between Jack and his opponent was palpable and stark. Despite this 14-year ordeal and the last several years of harassment by a man who is committed to, in his own words, “correct the errors of [Jack’s] thinking,” Jack is at peace. His trans-identifying activist opponent is not. 

During the course of his legal trials, Jack has become an example of how to live like a Christian in a world that is increasingly hostile to our beliefs. He is fleshing out what “a theology of getting fired” should mean. 

First, Jack has refused to live by lies. While he probably did not anticipate that his court battles would last over a decade when he made that fateful initial decision, he did. And, he has remained steadfast in his convictions since. It would have been easier, and less costly, to just bake the cake. Yet, Jack refuses to say something with his creative gifts that is not true. 

Jack has also learned to trust God. As was apparent at his press conference outside of the Colorado Supreme Court, Jack’s joy and confidence have only grown over the years. His life models what it means to “count it all joy … when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2).  

Finally, Jack and his family seem to understand that this is not ultimately about him. Because of his faithfulness, others are pointed to Christ. In her recent WORLD article, ADF CEO and General Counsel Kristen Waggoner revealed that Jack has played a role in a story the world has been watching since last year, the journey of faith of “Somali-born human rights activist, author, and podcast host, as well as a former leader of the New Atheists” Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Waggoner asked,  

What exactly woke her up to the rising wave of intolerance? In her own words: “It was the cake-baking story.” Jack Phillips. A man she described as an “obscure baker” in an “obscure place.” 

Of course, Jack is not obscure and unknown to God. And, from homeless shelter managers to graphic designers, Jack’s story has inspired countless Christians to stand up for their convictions even in the face of hostility. Sherrie Laurie, the manager of a women-only homeless shelter in Alaska, drew courage to protect the women she served from a male trying to gain entry simply by telling herself, “Remember the baker.” As Waggoner wrote,  

Jack’s example has spurred countless Christians to bear joyful witness to Christ in the place God has called them, no matter the headwinds they face. 

These are, of course, the kinds of things that the Apostle Paul meant when he spoke of “God working all things together for good.” Though Christians can repeat that truism to those who suffer and struggle in a way that is too dismissive and glib, it is nonetheless true. Jack Phillips is evidence that it is. 

This Breakpoint was co-authored by Jared Hayden. For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to 


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