Colorado decides bakers can discriminate - against Christians

by Will Hall, |
The Civil Rights Division of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies ruled Azucar Bakery did not violate the state's anti-discrimination law when she refused to bake cakes with images of Bibles with verses about sin and homosexuality and a depiction of two men holding hands with a "prohibited" sign over them (red circle and slash). The administrative body called the decorating scheme "derogatory language and imagery." | FACEBOOK/Azucar Bakery (posted by Amy Michelle Photography)

DENVER (Christian Examiner) – The Civil Rights Division of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies has ruled that bakers in the state can discriminate - against Christians.

The state's civil rights watchdog decided that Azucar Bakery in Denver did not violate the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act when owner Marjorie Silva refused to bake a cake decorated with Bible verses about sin and homosexuality. Conservatives claim the decision sets a double standard because the same regulatory body ruled against a Christian baker who declined to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.

In 2013, William Jack, founder of the Christian ministry Worldview Academy, requested the local confectionary bake two cakes with an open Bible on each—decorating the facing pages on one cake with "God hates sin - Psalm 45:7" and "Homosexuality is a detestable sin - Lev. 18:22" and doing similarly on the other with "God loves sinners" and "While we were yet sinners Christ died for us - Rom. 5:8."

Jack also requested a depiction of two men holding hands with a red "prohibited" symbol (circle and slash) over the couple.

Silva refused saying the requested decorations would violate her conscience because of the anti-gay message they carried. She also claimed she offered to bake the cake with Bibles and provide the piping materials so Jack could write the messages himself.

Jack subsequently filed a discrimination complaint based on his "creed" which is a qualifying criterion.

The determination in this case is a reversal of sorts from the 2012 case involving Masterpiece Bakery. Christian owner Jack Phillips declined to provide a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage, but offered to make other baked goods for the couple including birthday cakes and even a shower cake.

The Civil Rights Division said then that Phillips violated the law because of his discrimination against the couple due to their "sexual orientation," which is a protected class.

Moreover, despite Phillips' offer to make other kinds of cakes, the administrative judge's ruling was based largely on his notion that Phillips "refused to bake any cake for the Complainants regardless of what was written on it or what it looked like."

In the most recent case, the Civil Rights Division said the Silva case was different because the Bible verses constituted "derogatory language" and the decorating scheme contained offensive imagery.

Its decision letter said the evidence demonstrates she "would deny such requests to any customer, regardless of creed."

Jack plans to appeal.

Phillips is appealing his ruling, too—and his argument seems in line with the rationale Colorado used to find in favor of Silva.

His filing with the Civil Rights Division states he would not create wedding cakes with a "same-sex message, regardless who orders them," explaining that he believes "God ordained marriage as the sacred union between one man and one woman."