Colorado baker slammed with hostile reviews, protests after Supreme Court victory
Colorado baker Jack Phillips received a standing ovation Saturday at the Western Conservative Summit, which came as a change of pace after a week of protests and negative reviews following his Supreme Court victory.
Since the high court ruled Monday in his favor, the owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood has been faced with protesters and a deluge of one-star reviews on Yelp, but he’s not complaining.
Far from it. “It’s been quite a week, but God is so good,” Mr. Phillips told the friendly crowd at the Colorado Convention Center.
He thanked those at the annual “rally on the right” hosted by the Centennial Institute who supported him during the six-year court fight over his refusal to create a wedding cake for a gay marriage ceremony.
“I’ve heard my faith described as despicable and my efforts to defend my religious freedom have been compared to Nazis,” Mr. Phillips said. “And I’m profoundly grateful that the court saw the injustice that our state government inflicted on me. This decision is great for my family, for our shop, and for people of all faiths who should not have to fear government hostility or unjust punishment.”
The legal battle ended Monday with the high court’s 7-2 decision that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission discriminated against Mr. Phillips on the basis of his religious beliefs when it ruled against him.
Conservatives hailed the ruling as a victory for First Amendment rights, while critics held a protest hours after the decision’s release featuring Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper at the state capital in Denver.
Meanwhile, the Masterpiece Cakeshop’s page on Yelp has been slammed with hundreds of politically motivated one-star reviews accusing Mr. Phillips of “bigotry,” some with photos of same-sex marriage ceremonies.
“Giving a one-star review because the menu doesn’t include ‘hatred and bigotry’ as options,” said one commenter.
Said another: “Food made with hate does not taste good. This establishment is homophobic.”
The traffic prompted Yelp to post an “active cleanup alert,” saying that “we will ultimately remove reviews that that appear to be motivated more by the news coverage itself rather than by the reviewer’s own customer experience with the business.”
A band of activists turned up at the cakeshop Friday for a protest called “Gay Party at Bigot Bakery,” backed by groups including the People for Bernie Sanders and Millennials for Revolution, but they were met by dozens of counter-protesters in support of Mr. Phillips.
Those in the pro-Phillips group waved signs with messages like “Justice for Jack,” “Love Free Speech” and “Stand up for Religious Freedom,” as shown on footage by Fox31 in Denver.
Mr. Phillips responded by speaking to the opposing parties — and handing out cookies.
“The court’s decision makes clear that tolerance is a two-way street,” said Mr. Phillips at the summit. “If we want to have freedom for ourselves, we have to extend it to others with whom we disagree. Even about important issues like the meaning of marriage.”
He’s accustomed by now to the criticism. His shop lost 40 percent of its business after he stopped making wedding cakes following the commission’s ruling.
“The government’s hostility directly impacted my shop, our ability to make a living,” he said. “We also faced death threats and harassment, all for choosing not to design a cake that celebrates one particular event.”
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