Hollman: Religious liberty does not mean that religious beliefs provide blanket exemptions to nondiscrimination laws that protect our neighbors

For Immediate Release: June 4, 2018
Media contact: Cherilyn Crowe / ccrowe@BJConline.org / Office:  202-544-4226 / Cell: 202-670-5877

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop, finding that actions of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated the Free Exercise Clause.

The following statement is from Holly Hollman, general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty:  

“Rather than determining whether the business owner’s refusal to provide a service violated the law, the Court decided today’s case based on the actions of the administrative body charged with enforcing the law. 

Religious liberty protects beliefs and actions related to marriage. It does not mean that religious beliefs provide blanket exemptions to nondiscrimination laws that protect our neighbors. Religious objectors, like all Americans, have the right to be treated with respect and not to have their religious beliefs denigrated. 

As we consider these difficult issues in future cases, we all will fare better when we acknowledge the legitimate interests on both sides of these disputes and approach each other with civility and respect.”

The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty filed a brief in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission on behalf of the state of Colorado, explaining that a commercial bakery should not be able to refuse service to a same-sex couple based on the baker’s sincerely held religious belief about marriage. The brief explains how nondiscrimination laws like Colorado’s protect religious liberty in the commercial marketplace. It is available at BJConline.org/Masterpiece

The United Church of Christ, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Chicago Theological Seminary also joined the brief.

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Based in Washington, D.C., the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty is an 82-year-old religiously based organization working to defend religious freedom for all people and protect the institutional separation of church and state in the historic Baptist tradition.