Jack Phillips was taken before Colorado Civil Rights Commission for refusing to design a custom cake for a same-sex wedding. The case went to the Supreme Court and his side won. In this interview, Sean asks Jack to share his reasons for not designing the cake, but also his journey to faith and why he started the bakery in the first place. Jack shares how his faith informs everything he does. This interview was first recorded on Sean's YouTube channel, which is in partnership with the Talbot Apologetics program.

Jack Phillips opened Masterpiece Cakeshop in 1993, where he, his wife, Debi, and their adult daughter, Lisa, continue to serve the community of Loveland, Colorado.

Episode Transcript

Sean McDowell: Welcome to Think Biblically, a podcast brought to you by Talbot School of Theology, Biola university. I'm your host, Sean McDowell, professor of Christian apologetics. Today we've got an interview for you I think you're going to find really interesting and we are here with Jack Phillips, author of a new book called the Cost of My Faith but you probably recognize him because he has been at the heart of a Supreme Court case and really what might be called a cultural battle over religious freedom, owns a cake shop in Colorado and refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding and to put it bluntly, all hell broke loose, so to speak culturally speaking. And Jack is with us today, as well, Jonathan Scruggs from ADF to weigh in if any legal issues come up. Jack, I'm so honored you would be on this call. And let me just ask you a question. I'm so curious.

Jack Phillips: Sure.

Sean McDowell: Just tell me the backstory before we get into some of the issues of the case and culture, what's going on, how did you become a baker and why did you want to do this in the first place?

Jack Phillips: Well, in the Cost of My Faith, I tell about that story. I grew up with just... I loved art. So I was always drawing and painting and sculpting and things. And then in my senior year of high school, we had to sit down and talk with a career counselor. He asked me, "What do you want to do?" I told him I'd like to be an architect. And he looked at my transcripts and he says, "You don't have the math for it."

Sean McDowell: Okay.

Jack Phillips: I thought that would be handy information a couple of years ago. And then he said, "What's your next choice?" "I'd like to be an artist." "There's no money in it." So I ended up getting a job as a laborer, I guess. But a man that lived across the street from me owned a large wholesale bakery and he was gracious enough to hire me and soon enough fell in love with baking. So put the two together.

Sean McDowell: That's awesome. That makes perfect sense. Now this book is titled the Cost of My Faith. So your faith is at the heart of your decision to fight this cake-

Jack Phillips: Yeah.

Sean McDowell: And also open Masterpiece Cakeshop. Will you tell us just the story, I found it so fascinating in the book, of you coming to faith?

Jack Phillips: Yeah. I was coming home from work. I worked at this bakery, still the wholesale bakery, like a hundred employees. And I worked the night shift. So I'd get off at anywhere between six and 10 in the morning. And one morning, my buddy says, "You want to run over to the bar with us?" And I said, "Oh, no, thanks. I think I'll just head home." So I hopped in my car and I was driving home and I was like five minutes from home and suddenly I felt that there was a person in my car, a presence in my car. Oh, I wasn't alone and I knew immediately it was the Holy Spirit.

Sean McDowell: Wow.

Jack Phillips: And as I drove down the road, on a road that's like 40 miles an hour, this whole thing takes like seconds. And the Holy Spirit convicts me that I was a sinner. And I'd grown up in church and Sunday school and none of it made any sense. I quit going to church like five years before.

Sean McDowell: Okay.

Jack Phillips: And suddenly the whole plan of salvation, Christ dying on the cross, paying for my sins, all those things, my guilt before Holy God just was so clear from all those Sunday school stories, everything. And I realized I was a sinner, I needed a savior. There was no other possibility but that it was Jesus Christ. This is the Holy Spirit rescuing me. And so I tried to negotiate, said, "Let me clean up my life a little bit and you'll get a better deal." He says, "Yeah, you can't." And I realized, "You're right. I can't. I'm yours." So just like that, I became a follower of Christ and never looked back. So my faith then has had an impact on everything that I do, the way that I raise my kids, on my business, all of those things.

Sean McDowell: There's so much about your marriage and your back story and your experience that we're skipping over here that you go through in the book.

Jack Phillips: Yeah.

Sean McDowell: And honestly, I couldn't put it down. I really hope people will pick up the Cost of My Faith because it's well written, it's fascinating, it's timely.

Jack Phillips: Oh, good.

Sean McDowell: But let's jump to you starting Masterpiece Cakeshop. I'm curious, why did you start it and what's significant about the name?

Jack Phillips: Well, shortly after I started working in the bakery, I thought, "This is a job that I can do long-term." There were people working at this wholesale place that were like 50, 60 years old and still enjoying the job. I can enjoy doing this too, but eventually I'd like to own my own bakery. And then the owner of the bakery bought out another shop that had cake decorators. And when I saw how they could employ their art on a cake, turn a cake into a canvas, that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to open my own bakery and it'll be a cake shop. And I knew the name immediately would be Masterpiece Cakeshop because masterpiece says art, cakeshop says cakes so you're not going to go in looking for a loaf of bread. And also then a masterpiece is a follower of Christ, the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, "No man can serve two masters."

Sean McDowell: Wow.

Jack Phillips: And so I wanted to use that part of masterpiece to remind me every day when I come to work who am I going to serve, so all those things came together.

Sean McDowell: That's a brilliant double name, that masterpiece tells people they're getting something of the highest quality, but also kind of subtly in there is the master that you serve so people understand from the beginning opening this bakery always has been an expression of who you are and who you are is tied to your faith. Is that true?

Jack Phillips: Absolutely. Every decision I make, the way that I treat my employees, as I said, the way I handle my marriage, my money, raise my kids, all of those were based on my relationship with Jesus Christ.

Sean McDowell: Now I don't have a clue how to bake a cake. I was interested reading through your book how. I really don't. I was more athlete background and really I can't cook anything. But I was reading through you describing your backstory. Some of the cakes that you've made, just pick maybe two or three over the decades of doing this, that were just the most special or fun or meaningful cakes that you made for some event or some person.

Jack Phillips: There's a picture in my book of a warehouse cake that we made. A new grocery store distributor or food distributor was opening up a brand new warehouse and so we made a cake that was on a board that was 10 feet long and six feet wide or eight feet wide, whatever. We had to transport it in sections to get it to the site, bought the trees, but we made everything out of icing and that was a lot of fun. Or just simple cakes like I did one recently for a woman who just turned 103 and just like, what is she like? And so I did a cake that we do quite often, but a beautiful flower basket. Sometimes the cake is simple, sometimes it's really dramatic, but it's always who you're making it for and what the event is that really makes it special sometimes.

Sean McDowell: Jack, one of the things that jumped out to me in your book is how you talked about your bakery brought your family together.

Jack Phillips: Yeah.

Sean McDowell: I'm close with my parents, with my kids, the McDowell's, we are family-oriented people. So when I read that, because I haven't owned a bakery and been there, I had not really thought about it on that level, but you talk about how this brought you closer to your dad before he passed away-

Jack Phillips: Right.

Sean McDowell: And how it's brought you closer to your daughter. Would you share a little bit about that?

Jack Phillips: Well, with my dad, my dad was a meat cutter and he worked in retail. He worked in like packing houses and different things when he was young but while I was growing up, he worked in meat markets and he just hated working with the public and he said, "I don't care what you do, son, just don't work with the public." And then I've got this brilliant idea to open a retail bakery and I wasn't afraid to tell my dad because my dad and I get along great.

Sean McDowell: Good.

Jack Phillips: I was like, "Dad, this is probably the dumbest decision in my life you're going to think. I'm going to open up a bakery." "Really? When? Where?" And he came in the very first day and helped me.

Sean McDowell: Oh wow.

Jack Phillips: Built out the store and he was there virtually every day until he passed away back in '96. But that was a really special time getting to meet my dad, sit down and talk and have breakfast and he befriended everybody that came in.

Sean McDowell: Wow.

Jack Phillips: It was always fun.

Sean McDowell: That's special. Now your daughter works for you too, is that right? Or she did for a while?

Jack Phillips: Yeah. I have three kids and they all worked there at different points and one of my daughters was all excited that I was going to be on your show because she watches your show all the time so she's watching today.

Sean McDowell: Oh my goodness. Tell her... Actually, I'll just say hi right here, give her a shout out. What's her name?

Jack Phillips: Jennifer.

Sean McDowell: Jennifer, thanks for watching. You have a great dad and a great family. You are more blessed than you know.

Jack Phillips: Yeah.

Sean McDowell: In a second, I want to jump to the day that changed everything for you when David and Charlie came in and asked you to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. But I'm curious, do you remember the very first sale that you had at the bakery? Do you remember that?

Jack Phillips: I do. I write about it in the Cost of My Faith because we were up, spending weeks trying to get the cake shop ready to open and then the night before I'm pulling cakes out of the oven and I get up in the morning and ice the first one and I'm ready to put it in the store. It's not an order or anything. It's just hopefully somebody will come in and sell it or buy it.

Sean McDowell: Sure.

Jack Phillips: And so this gentleman walks in, he says, "Yeah, I need a cake." And, "Well, I have this one right here." "Great. Can you write something on it for me?" "I sure can." So I write on it, hand it to him, box it up, and say, "You know, you're my first customer." "Really, like the first one today?" "No, my first one ever."

Sean McDowell: Wow.

Jack Phillips: "We just unlocked the doors." And this man still comes in. He was in probably in February. So that's so cool.

Sean McDowell: What a great story. You served for years, talked about how the love of Christ motivated the way you treat your employees, people that came in, but on a specific day, a gay couple came in, David and Charlie, asked you to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding, you said no. And in the book you say there was 20 seconds that changed everything.

Jack Phillips: Pretty much.

Sean McDowell: Describe that scenario for us, if you can.

Jack Phillips: Yeah. So it was a beautiful July afternoon. It was Thursday, July the 19th, 2012. And it was about 4L00, 4:30 in the afternoon. And I had two girls working in the store and I was working in the back and the protocol was that one girl would take care of the customers that came in, the other would answer the phone. If they're both busy, then I would pick up the phone or wait on whoever. And as it happened, these two men came in, sat at our wedding desk in a special area we have designed just for wedding cakes on display. And I looked out because both of them were busy and I want to make sure. And they were both busy and one of them motioned to me, my other daughter, Lisa, that there were two guys over there, so okay. And so I went around to the wedding desk and I sat down and said, "I'm..." You know. One says, "I'm David." "I'm Charlie," And I didn't hear what he says. I said, "Excuse me? Oh, Charlie. Oh, okay. I'm Jack, what can I do for you?" David said, "We're here to look at wedding cakes." And Charlie says, "It's for our wedding." And right away, I knew what my answer was going to be. I just didn't know how I was going to phrase it or how they would accept it. But I was like, "Sorry, guys, I don't do cakes for same-sex weddings." They just stare at me like what? "I'll make you birthday cakes, shower cakes, cookies, brownies. I just don't create cakes for same-sex weddings." David immediately jumps up and he flips me off. He storms out of one door and he's just yelling all the way. And the other guy, Charlie, picks up his folder that he had with him and walks over to one of the tables. There was a woman sitting there that I hadn't noticed. It turns out that that was his mom. And so they gathered up their stuff and went out the other door. Wow. That's not what I expected. The whole conversation was like 19 words, 20 words and 20 seconds. And I was stunned.

Sean McDowell: Now you make this clear in your book, but you emphasize because it feels like people misunderstand this, that you were not denying them service because of their sexual orientation.

Jack Phillips: Oh, right.

Sean McDowell: You had served gay people. It was about the message itself. Is that fair?

Jack Phillips: Yeah, absolutely fair and accurate. If you look at a wedding cake, think about a wedding cake, say you were on a business conference and you're headed down to the room at the hotel and you don't remember which one it is and you open up door number one and you see a cake standing in the corner on the table over there. You don't think it's a business meeting, it might be yours. It could be something else. You know instinctively it's a wedding because of that cake. That wedding cake is a message in and of itself. It's very iconic. So when they asked for a cake that was to represent a wedding that was against the biblical teaching that I believe, that was just something that I couldn't create. And I tried it in those few sentences to tell them, "I'll sell you cookies and brownies. I'll make other custom cakes for you. I just can't do that one."

Sean McDowell: Now talk to me about some of the other cakes that you had decided you wouldn't make. And it sounds like this wasn't a decision when they came in, but when you opened up the shop you had already-

Jack Phillips: Right.

Sean McDowell: Made a decision with your wife about this. So give me some examples of other times you've said no to baking certain cakes.

Jack Phillips: Yeah. When I had the dream to open the cake shop at first, it's not like, "Okay, let's do this," and next week I'm open. It was years in process, planning everything. And one of the things that we had talked about was which cakes we would create and which cakes we could not. And we decided we're not going to create cakes to celebrate Halloween, which is a huge money making part of bakery life. We're not going to make cakes that are anti-American or that are racist or even disparage other people, call people names or insult people, even people who identify as LGBT, wouldn't make cakes with profanity on them. So there were a number of cakes. The media kind of tries to make it look like, "He picked out these two guys and he won't serve gays," but it's the message of the cake and there are a lot of cakes that we can't create.

Sean McDowell: So if there was another Christian baker who started their bakery, called it something else, but similar vision and said, "You know what, I don't have a problem baking a cake for a same-sex wedding."

Jack Phillips: Right.

Sean McDowell: Would you say, "No, you shouldn't," or would you say, "Then make it according to your conscience?"

Jack Phillips: I would say the latter.

Sean McDowell: Okay.

Jack Phillips: It's up to each person and it's up to our government to protect the rights that God's given us, that we have written down in our constitution, the right to free speech and the right to freely exercise our religion. So for that person, I'd say, "That's up to you." I have to answer to God for my own actions.

Sean McDowell: Fair enough. So you say no, within 20 seconds later, get flipped off, yelled at.

Jack Phillips: Yeah.

Sean McDowell: Talk to me about some of the ensuing things that happened over a few days, the response, positive and negative, that you received.

Jack Phillips: Yeah. Well, the first couple days, it was entirely negative, starting 20 minutes after the two men left my shop.

Sean McDowell: Wow.

Jack Phillips: The phone rings. And I said earlier, that two girls working for me, one would answer the phone, the other would be waiting on the customers. They were both busy. So I grabbed the phone. "Are you the guy who just turned away the gay couple?" It's like, "What in the world are you talking about? Nobody was here, but the three of us and the two men." Said, "I would never turn away anybody. And well, actually I would never turn away..." "But you did refused to make a wedding cake for them." Trying to explain everything, and the man spews out a bunch of profanity and hangs up on me. I was stunned at that as I was for the two men storming out of my shop.

Sean McDowell: Sure.

Jack Phillips: And then the phone rang again and then it rang again and it rang again. And by the time I closed up just like 45 minutes later, I'd probably taken six phone calls like that. What in the world's going on? And then the next morning, Friday morning, I came in and I was here before seven. We open at seven, but I was here like an hour before that and the phone was already ringing and I decided I wasn't going to answer the phone. It stopped ringing. I stopped answering the phone that night, on Thursday night at six when we closed. And for me normally, if I'm here at 10 o'clock at night, the phone rings, I'm going to answer it.

Sean McDowell: Sure.

Jack Phillips: You come up to my door, I'm going to let you in. But that night I thought, "I'm not answering the phone tonight." And in the morning it was ringing at seven o'clock. I picked up the phone and it was the same thing, continued all day long. There was profanity and threats and just hateful phone calls. It was crazy.

Sean McDowell: Now you talked-

Jack Phillips: I continued.

Sean McDowell: You talked-

Jack Phillips: I continued all Friday and Saturday and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.

Sean McDowell: Oh my goodness. So it just kept going for a while, nonstop.

Jack Phillips: Yeah.

Sean McDowell: Now you told a couple specific stories that frankly I stopped, and I was reading it last night, I told my wife, I'm like, "Can you believe what happened here?" And one was about a man who threatened you with a gun. Explain what happened there and how you responded.

Jack Phillips: Yeah. So this was early. I'm thinking it was probably the first week that this all started and the phone calls just kept coming. And I decided, "While I'm open, I'll answer the phone and I'll also open it and I'll be polite and I'll be as charming as I can be to whoever calls. And if I have a chance to share the gospel, I'll do that." And I pick up the phone and his man says, "I'm on my way to your shop." Okay. "And I've got a gun."

Sean McDowell: Wow.

Jack Phillips: "I'm going to blow your head off."

Sean McDowell: Holy Cow.

Jack Phillips: And then he hangs up and then he calls back and he called back, he called back. He says, "I'm on this street," "I'm on that street," "And I'm about 10 minutes away."

Sean McDowell: Gee.

Jack Phillips: I don't know what to do. I'm not afraid to die but I don't want to do it with my daughter in the back and my three year old granddaughter with her.

Sean McDowell: Gosh.

Jack Phillips: And so I went back and told her, "I just got this phone call. I'm not sure what to do, but you guys stay in the back. I'm going to go call the police." So I call the police and I explained to the dispatcher, "I just had this man threaten to come kill me. Could you send an officer out?" And so he showed up pretty quickly-

Sean McDowell: Yeah.

Jack Phillips: And I explained to him what was going on, the story of David and Charlie coming in. And then the phone keeps ringing and caller ID just showed a series of numbers. It didn't give a name or anything like that. And I say, "You want to take the call?" He said, "Sure." So he tries to pick it up and there's nobody there. Hang up, call again, hang up, call again, hang up, call again. And I don't know if maybe it was just a crank call or if he pulled by the parking lot, saw the police car up front and thought better of his decision. But to my knowledge, I never heard from that man again. That was a wake up call.

Sean McDowell: Now all of this you're talking about is negative, but you did receive some positive feedback of people who appreciate the principle. And you tell one story about, if I remember correctly, a big guy, muscles everywhere, tattoos, served in military. Tell about this guy.

Jack Phillips: Yeah. And he could be 150 pounds, I don't know. But in my mind, knowing his background, he was just one tough guy. He was my age and he came in and he was in Vietnam.

Sean McDowell: Okay.

Jack Phillips: He was in Black Ops and he said, "You're my hero."

Sean McDowell: Wow.

Jack Phillips: I was just overwhelmed. We had a long conversation. We've had many conversations since, but he brought a special medallion, not a war medal like a purple heart or anything like that, but a medallion that his company had created for each other and he gave me one. And so I got that in a special place in my office, but I'm talking to him and I don't know if you can see with the camera here, but it chokes me up when I think about that.

Sean McDowell: Sure.

Jack Phillips: That conversation and this man. Black Ops, Vietnam, behind the lines doing all the crazy things and he's in tears telling me that I'm his hero.

Sean McDowell: Jack, because of what I do, I receive a good amount of criticism, pretty much daily-

Jack Phillips: Sure.

Sean McDowell: On whether it's this YouTube channel or it's on social media. But when I was reading your book, I thought, "I have 2% at best of what you've received." How did you just emotionally or spiritually even cope with this?

Jack Phillips: Well, we were just talking. My daughter just is reading the book and she's like, "I'm on chapter 15," and telling me different things. But the night after David and Charlie came in, I closed up the shop and I stopped at the grocery store on my way home and I'm just stunned. I don't remember what I was thinking. It was probably on autopilot, but it was just not a normal run into the store, pick up something and go home. I'm thinking, "Everybody here knows what just happened and everybody hates me and I don't know what's going to happen." And I walked through the double doors and then into the store and suddenly the Holy Spirit, the Word of God comes to me from Timothy, it says, "God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of love and of power and of a sound mind."

Sean McDowell: Wow.

Jack Phillips: And suddenly I realized, the sound mind part came through, "Nobody here knows. This is just something that happened to me. Maybe it'll blow over, I don't know." But suddenly all the fear was gone and I've never had any concern or worry since then. But it was just from the time that David and Charlie left, got the first phone call till I walked through that grocery store, and like, "Oh, okay. God's in control. Nothing can happen outside of his permission and command."

Sean McDowell: That's powerful, Jack. Now you told about when this couple came in, tell me about the first time you realized you were being prosecuted by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

Jack Phillips: Oh, well, shortly after, like a week or two after, they had a protest out in front of our store and some news media came by and I did an interview with one of the newsmen. And then they said that they were coming back for another bigger protest the following week. And during one of those protests, when there was more media that came to interview me, one of the reporters said, "Do you know that you've violated Colorado Civil Rights...?" He gave me the wrong number. He said, "301, 601, 284," whatever.

Sean McDowell: Okay.

Jack Phillips: Who knows all these things? Said, "No, I didn't know that." So I knew that there was a possibility and-

Sean McDowell: Gotcha.

Jack Phillips: Then we finally got the paperwork from the state, filing the complaint and then went to the Colorado Civil Rights division. They run it through the commission, the commission checks it out and said, "Yep, we have probable cause to pursue this complaint." And so I think we got the actual paperwork and John knows exactly the date, but it was-

Sean McDowell: Sure.

Jack Phillips: Probably October. So they came in July. It's three, four months later that we were actually serving papers.

Sean McDowell: Now, what was this? Not so much the legal details, but if this was true and you violated it, would you have to shut down, would you go to prison? Would you be fined?

Jack Phillips: Yeah.

Sean McDowell: What would've been the repercussions for you?

Jack Phillips: At the time, the statute said that I could be fined $500 per charge and up to a year in jail.

Sean McDowell: A year.

Jack Phillips: And there were two charges. Yeah.

Sean McDowell: Wow.

Jack Phillips: So conceivably a thousand dollars fine. That's not that big of a deal, but two years in jail? Yeah. The bakery shuts down. And then the commission also ruled that I had to either stop creating wedding cakes or that I had to create wedding cakes for everybody, same-sex couples, whoever. By the way they wrote it, my understanding is that I wouldn't be able to participate in what the order looked like. If somebody came in and they wanted a pornographic wedding cake or whatever, I couldn't say, "No, I can't create that." I would have to create what they asked for. So it was a point where, not just the wedding cakes, but any cake order that came in, I would be subject to either making it or face the wrath of the commission again.

Sean McDowell: So I'm sure you thought of it this way, I think you maybe phrase it this way. So let me play a skeptic. Jack, why not just bake the cake? It's just ingredients. How much money and time, and we have Jonathan on here, would've saved his effort, Alliance Defending Freedom? Why not just bake the cake and get it over with?

Jack Phillips: Because it's not just butter and eggs and sugar. It's something that I put my heart into. God's given me an artistic talent, he's put me through a lot of training, different bakeries that I've worked at, different things that I've learned, and the reverence that I have for marriage itself, this cake is not just a cake. It's a cake that speaks volumes they said. A wedding cake is an iconic symbol of a marriage. And this is a marriage that goes completely against my understanding of the Bible's definition of marriage, God's creation of marriage. So it's not just a cake.

Sean McDowell: Jonathan, maybe weigh in here for a second and tell us legally kind of what's at stake here behind the cake? Because part of me looks at this and goes, "It's just a cake. I can't believe we're making such a big deal about this," but it represents something more, doesn't it?

Jonathan Scruggs: Absolutely. I mean, these cases are so vital because it goes to the heart of whether we as citizens have the right to choose what messages we celebrate and support. And it's so important to stress that, as Jack has repeatedly said, that he's not just fighting for his own freedom, but for all of our freedoms, even for those who disagree with him, because if the government can force him to create a cake that expresses a message that he disagrees with, the government can force an LGBT artist to say a message that they disagree with or a different Christian or a Muslim or a Jewish person. And these principles should protect everybody. The government shouldn't have the power to step in and force someone to convey a message that violates their core convictions.

Sean McDowell: It's really powerful to hear you say that a part of this case is you actually want to defend the rights of LGBTQ bakers to not bake a cake with a Bible verse on it that would say something they find offensive or a Muslim who doesn't want to bake something that's offensive to their faith. So this is not just about your Christian faith. It's about religious liberty and freedom as a whole and freedom of speech. That's huge. Tell the story about when you went on the Megyn Kelly Today show and she asked you a question and your response, I don't know if she was speechless, but she didn't expect it and was taken off guard. Share that story with us if you can.

Jack Phillips: Yeah. If it's what I'm thinking of, Megyn Kelly came to Kristen Waggoner who represented me at the US Supreme Court, she was on the show with me, just before we went on and said that the two men, David and Charlie, couldn't be on the show today so she'd have to kind of take their side. And so I'm thinking, "Well, so this suddenly turned into a media hostile interview." And it was a short interview so I wanted to make every point that I needed to right away. And so she asked me her first question and I said, "Well, first of all, let me explain that at Masterpiece Cakeshop, we serve everybody that comes in. We just don't create every cake that people ask us to." And I explained to her that we had decided not to make Halloween cakes or anti-American cakes or those things.

Sean McDowell: Sure.

Jack Phillips: Or even cakes that denigrate somebody who identifies as LGBT. And she said, "Oh, okay. What? Somebody would ask you for that?" "Yeah. People have asked me to make cakes that say, "God hates gays," using the other word." I'm like, "I'm not going to do that because it's the message of the cake. It's not the person asking for the cake. It's a cake that I can't do." And I really think it did catch her off guard because she had her next question ready to go and stopped and backpedals. Gave me the opportunity to make that point again.

Sean McDowell: That's such a powerful response. I want you to both weigh in on this from your perspectives, but at the heart of this is free speech, as I understand it. So Jack, tell me why making a cake in your mind is an act of speech?

Jack Phillips: When a client comes in, a customer comes in, like this grandmother that's like 103, I sit and I talk with the client. I say, "So what do you need? When do you need it?" We go through all the basic points and, "Okay, so who's it for?" "Well, it's for my grandmother, she's going to be 103." "Okay, so this has to be a very special cake. This is not just flour, eggs, and butter. What do we want to do to really impress upon your grandma that you love her, that she's really special and this is a special time?" So we sit down and we design it. I'll make sketches. I'll take all the time that I need to make sure that I've got the colors and the idea that they want. And then I'm going to go back, with my hands and my tools, and I'm going to create something very artistic. Well, it'd be very artistic, but hopefully something that satisfies their desire in the final product. And it's always art to me. That's why I came up with the name or God gave me the name Masterpiece because I want it to be an artistic expression and the US Supreme Court has protected art as speech. We even have a picture hanging in the store in the showroom of an article that came out shortly after we opened, and the newspaper article said that, "Walking into Masterpiece Cakeshop is like walking into an art gallery of cakes."

Sean McDowell: Wow.

Jack Phillips: That's what I want.

Sean McDowell: Interesting.

Jack Phillips: This is art. This is speech.

Sean McDowell: So the government has protected art as free speech, baking a cake is art at Masterpiece Cakeshop. You should have that free speech. That makes sense. Jonathan, do you want to add anything legally to that?

Jonathan Scruggs: Yeah. I mean the US Supreme Court has a pretty broad definition. They protected video games as free speech. And as Jack has noted, when you walk into a room and you see a three tier white cake, everyone knows, "Hey, this is a wedding cake." And the message it's communicating is, "There's a wedding going on, there's a marriage, and let's celebrate." That's what weddings are all about. So to force someone to handcraft that piece of artwork really does send a message that, "This isn't about my wedding, this is a marriage that should be celebrated." And to force Jack to do that for a definition of marriage that he disagrees with really does force him to violate his beliefs, his core convictions. Like I said, no one should be forced to do that, whether it be the LGBT artist or anyone else.

Sean McDowell: That's really helpful. We're going to jump to the Supreme Court and your experience being in the court, the arguments, what it felt like. But one last question for me that really jumped out to me in your book. Again, those of you who've just joined us, we're here with Jack Phillips who's written a book, the Cost of My Faith, and you will recognize him because he's been at the heart of a Supreme Court ruling that now has been weighed on, tied to whether or not a baker would be forced to make a cake for an issue that the baker disagrees with. We're here with Jonathan Scruggs who's helped defend him from the ADF. And one of the things you say in your book, Jack, is you say that you believe you showed a loving attitude to Dave and Charlie through this. Now I'm sure they would interpret it differently-

Jack Phillips: Right.

Sean McDowell: Probably because they have a different understanding and definition of love, but from your perspective, tell me why that's important to you and what that looked like?

Jack Phillips: Well, it's my faith and my relationship with Jesus Christ that drives my relationships with other people, including David and Charlie. And like I said, the conversation was 20 seconds long so I didn't get to sit down and explain my opinions and my beliefs or anything like that. Although, Charlie's mother called me up the next day and I had a short conversation with her about those things.

Sean McDowell: Okay.

Jack Phillips: But if we did, I would really want to impress on them that they are two men that I would love to serve, I'd love to get to know them, and serve them cake for every other occasion that I could, but there are some messages that I just can't create. And so in the 20 seconds that we had, the media wants it to sound like I just told them, "Get out of my shop. I won't serve you." But that's the farthest thing from my mind. My faith compels me. It's not a rule. The Holy Spirit living inside me wants me to treat everybody the way Jesus Christ did through love. And if I would've had more time, we could have maybe gotten past this, but we didn't. So as gently as I could, "Sorry, guys, I can't create that cake." "What?" "I'll serve you in every other way that I can, but I can't create that cake." So I tried to express it gently and compassionately with love, but two sentences, it's difficult.

Sean McDowell: Okay.

Jack Phillips: But at least it wasn't a text. It was face to face and they could see-

Sean McDowell: Okay.

Jack Phillips: What I meant.

Sean McDowell: Good. I love that. Now tell me a little bit, this is in your book, how you personally suffer because of this? You mentioned relationally, your reputation, your time, your finances. Just walk us through a little bit of how this personally affected you and your family going through this case for years.

Jack Phillips: Yeah. When the commission ruled that I had to start making every wedding cake that came across my thing and actually, they required me to report to them quarterly for two years for any cake I turned down for any reason. If I didn't have enough flour or my schedule is full, I would be forced to report to them. And then when we had to make the decision, do we keep making wedding cakes or do we stop? Wedding cakes were a huge part of our business. And I had employees just specifically for wedding cakes, a delivery man who gives up every Saturday of the year, basically, because you never know when a wedding can come in. And he comes in at seven in the morning on Saturday and be running cakes from one corner of the city to the other all day. And then on Friday and Saturday, whatever weddings or other deliveries we had. And then part-time people working for me out front to do the wedding consultations and I jump in and make sure that we got everything right. But they would handle all the samples and everything. The bookkeeping, there were just so many aspects to this. And when they took away the wedding business, we went from 10 employees down to four and I was one of them. My daughter was a full-time employee and the other two were part-time. So it was really hard, not hard to say, "What's God doing?" I know what he does is good and right and I just want to be obedient and follow what he asked me to do.

Sean McDowell: Sure.

Jack Phillips: I know that if we have to close down the bakery, I'd be fine with that so as long as I did it for a reason that was honoring to him and if he got us through this, that'd be all the more reason to say, "Look what he did. He got us through all this," and he has. There were some really hard times through that, financially, my wife was afraid to come into the shop just because you didn't know what the phone was going to be like.

Sean McDowell: Sure.

Jack Phillips: Early on, I pull up to the shop and she was talking to me on my cell. "So is there any graffiti there?" "No, but Channel 2 is outside."

Sean McDowell: Wow.

Jack Phillips: So we just didn't know what to expect. It was especially hard for them.

Sean McDowell: Yeah. I can imagine. That would be just difficult and painful on a lot of different levels. Let's jump to the SCOTUS case and I forget what chapter it is, but you start describing that ADF... In fact, let me ask one more question for Jonathan.

Jack Phillips: Yeah.

Sean McDowell: Jonathan, why did the Alliance Defending Freedom take this case?

Jonathan Scruggs: Well, I think we saw that across the country, people like Jack, other creative professionals, were really being targeted in this type of environment by these types of laws and that's actually proven even after Jack's Supreme Court case that people are using these laws almost as an arm of cancel culture, right? To isolate people that hold certain religious views, particularly about marriage, and to target them, come after them. And it is really unfortunate because if that happens, then where are the Christians going to be involved in these industries to live out their faith, to love and serve the people they interact with? So we need this as a vital principle to say, "The government shouldn't have this power and that people of faith should be able to bring their faith into their works, into their jobs, and into the public square." That's the best thing in a pluralistic society, that we learn to live with each other and to disagree with each other with tolerance.

Sean McDowell: So very quickly, were there other bakeries that would have designed a beautiful cake for this same-sex couple proximate to where your shop is, Jack?

Jack Phillips: There is one. I could walk there in two minutes, a wonderful cake shop. They do beautiful work. You just go out of my parking lot, through the intersection to the next parking lot, and they're right there. And I think the Supreme Court briefs said that there were 67 or 87 bakeries that advertised in gay-friendly magazines that they would create a wedding cake.

Sean McDowell: Okay.

Jack Phillips: So it wasn't like I'm the only game in town. They could have gone pretty much anywhere. And then they actually did get their take given to them for free.

Sean McDowell: Oh wow. On top of that, very interesting.

Jack Phillips: Yeah.

Sean McDowell: Okay. Describe for me the day, you're waking up and you are going to the Supreme Court of the United States. I'm reading this in your book and I'm putting myself in your shoes going, "My alarm goes off, I'm putting on a suit presumably and I'm going into the most powerful court in the world."

Jack Phillips: Yeah.

Sean McDowell: What were you thinking and what are some of the things that stand out that you saw during that day, going into the court? And then we'll get to some of the oral arguments.

Jack Phillips: Yeah. Yeah. We went in through a side door, but out on the sidewalk in front of the court, there was a rally going on. I don't know how many people, just hundreds of people, maybe, I don't know, dozens.

Sean McDowell: Okay.

Jack Phillips: But more people than I was expecting. Three quarters of them were support us, they were holding signs and banners and yelling and screaming. And then there were people who hated us, holding the opposite signs, and just going into the court. And once we get into the court, you have to go through one hallway, down this hallway, over here, and wait here. And the hallways were full of people and you don't know which ones are on your side, which ones aren't. And so the attorneys, "Follow me, go over here, go over here." And then there were federal marshals, court marshals there in the hallways maintaining absolute silence. "We'll be quiet in here." And then the noise drops down and nothing and then people start murmuring again and the volume builds up. "It will be quiet in here. You'll be moving..." Just to make sure that you understood that this is not traffic court. This is United States Supreme Court. So then you go through security a couple of times and you're not allowed to take anything in there, but a pencil and a paper, no cameras, no phones, no anything. When they lead you into the room, we were there quite a while before the justices came in and before it started, I'm thinking 45 minutes to an hour before where we had to sit there. Again, an absolute silence, because there were marshals in there too. And I looked from one corner to the other and I realized that not only was I the center of the arguments here, I was actually seated in the very center of the room.

Sean McDowell: Wow.

Jack Phillips: That was kind of cool.

Sean McDowell: Wow.

Jack Phillips: But then when the justices come out, "All rise," and we all stand up and there's Ginsburg and there's Thomas and Roberts and Kennedy. And it's like I've been reading about all these people and here they are and they're going to rule on my future, but not only my future because I'd realized before this that this isn't just Jack and making wedding cakes, this is every American's right to live and work according to their conscience, without fear of punishment. And they're going to listen to the arguments today and then they're going to retire and then they're going to make their decision. And people ask me, "What's it like to testify there?" And there was no testifying on my part. It was just-

Sean McDowell: Yeah.

Jack Phillips: Kristen Waggoner. The attorney goes to the podium and the nine justices just start asking questions and she has to feel them and answer every question accurately, quickly, compellingly, go to the next question, go to the next one, and go to the next one. You don't know what the subject's going to be, but she was completely absolutely stunningly prepared for these arguments. It was pretty cool.

Sean McDowell: Jonathan, I'm going to ask you to paint the picture so we understand legally what's going on. But one of the things in your book I didn't know is, I think you said about 70 seats for the public, it's first come, first serve, and people camped out for five days, brought their own food to get in. That's amazing to me. Now, Jonathan kind of give us a sense of how long does this go, who testifies, what are the judges trying to accomplish as if we are viewing this. What would it be like if we were sitting there, watching this take place?

Jonathan Scruggs: Well, there's no testimony for witnesses, as Jack said.

Sean McDowell: Okay.

Jonathan Scruggs: It's just nine justices up there and asking questions to two lawyers, one from each side. So our attorney, Kristen Waggoner, went first and any justice can ask any question about really anything at any point. So it's really a quick-fire situation. You've got to think on your feet, the justice can ask any type of legal question, any type of factual question.

Sean McDowell: Wow.

Jonathan Scruggs: "What happened on this date?" Or, "What about this case, about this detail?" And there's a lot of time and effort that goes into that in preparation-

Sean McDowell: Sure.

Jonathan Scruggs: To do off the run-throughs and asking question after question to practice. The whole thing lasts about an hour and it is a very intense session as you can imagine. Kristen did a great job and I think it showed in the result that, ultimately, end the day, the Supreme Court ruled seven to two, two away from a unanimous verdict, that the state of Colorado showed hostility towards Jack's faith. And that's really unfortunate that it came to that. That's the reason we have this constitution is to protect people of different faiths, different views, and the government doesn't have the right to show hostility, to single out Jack, just because of his religious beliefs.

Sean McDowell: Jack, one of the things that seemed to be most biting to you from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission was that they compared your refusal to bake this cake to the Holocaust, those who perpetrated it. Now you share a personal story about, if it was your father, grandfather, I forget. When I read that-

Jack Phillips: My father.

Sean McDowell: Share that story, if you don't mind.

Jack Phillips: Yeah. And again, because of opening the cake shop and my dad coming down pretty much every morning, I got to know him better, but one of these commissioners called religious freedom a despicable piece of rhetoric, and then compared my faith to perpetrators of the Holocaust and slavery. And it's like you either have no understanding of the Holocaust, or... I don't know, but my dad served in World War II and he landed on Normandy and he fought in France and he fought in Germany and he took a terrible wound in his back in a mortar attack. And they shipped him back to England and patched him up and sent him back into combat. And he ended up being part of a group that liberated Buchenwald prison concentration camp. And he talked about the smells and just the horror of that. You can look up pictures of Buchenwald, it's not just like a county prison. It was one of the horrific prison concentration camps of the Nazis. And for this woman to compare my decision not to create a cake that violated my faith to that horrible situation was just ludicrous.

Sean McDowell: Oh my goodness. That seems to bite as deeply as it could, that you almost wouldn't be here-

Jack Phillips: Yeah.

Sean McDowell: Presuming you were born after that. Maybe that's not the case.

Jack Phillips: Much after that, yeah.

Sean McDowell: Much after that. Yeah. Actually, that makes no sense mathematically for me to pause, of course much.

Jack Phillips: Yeah. There you go.

Sean McDowell: Got it. God, I can't believe that that comparison would be made. I'm sorry you had to go through that. Now, so that case is done. It's all in one day, you don't come back. Was it about six months until you heard? Is that the time span?

Jack Phillips: Yeah. We went to the Supreme Court, December the 5th, 2017. And we were in there for about an hour and a half. They extended our argument time and that was pretty cool. Then we went out and did the rally and did some things in DC and then headed home and waited for the decision and the decision didn't come until June of 2018. And I really expected the decision to come on the last day of the session, had our case granted on June, 2017, on the very last day. The last thing that they were doing that day was announcing the cases they would take and releasing the opinions. So I was expecting it to be the last day this time too. And one of my sisters called me up and said, "Are you keeping track of SCOTUS blog?" And SCOTUS is Supreme Court of the US.

Sean McDowell: Right.

Jack Phillips: And there's a blog site that tracks the United States Supreme Court. I said, "Well, no, I really hadn't." Because I'm not expecting to hear anything till next three or four weeks. But I turned on my computer that morning and I was watching the SCOTUS blog and I see the blog and it says, "Looks like we have..." I can't. I lose my voice even now, a couple years later, but that morning I could not speak. "We have Masterpiece Cakeshop and it looks like they win seven to two."

Sean McDowell: Wow.

Jack Phillips: I can't call anybody because I can't talk so I'm texting people and then the phone starts ringing, cars are driving by our shop. They're honking, they're waving, the newspapers are calling. It was just a crazy day. And I think that God gave United States 200 years ago some very brilliant people to put together this government that we have from scratch, including the judicial system and it worked. It worked well that time. Unfortunately, it's populated by people so it doesn't always work, but I know God was gracious to our country to give us this wonderful system that we have. And to be there that day and know what was going on and how powerful this court is and what that meant, again, not just for me, but for all Americans was just overwhelming.

Sean McDowell: Jonathan, what was your impression of this case? Were you surprised in any fashion? What did you expect going into hearing the ruling?

Jonathan Scruggs: Well, I mean, we were confident in our arguments. We were hopeful that we were going to win whether on free speech as we talked about or the free exercise of religion. And we were just excited, not just that we won, but it's a seven to two thing. This one was a close call in some ways, and again, to get the vast majority of the court on the same page, it's saying the government can't sing well, but there's people, even when they're expressing their views on marriage, because in our day and age, some people dislike this and some people consider them controversial. And to get that clear statement from the US Supreme Court, it's so vital. Freedom of speech should go both ways. It shouldn't just be for those who hold certain opinions, should be for those who agree with the government. It should protect people of faith across the board and so that was just such an important decision to get reaffirmed in Jack's favor.

Sean McDowell: Now, Jack, presumably you think this is done, you can go back to baking cakes, but there was Masterpiece Cakeshop II.

Jack Phillips: Yeah.

Sean McDowell: Can you tell me what happened with the follow up?

Jack Phillips: Yeah. So the day that the court granted our case back in 2017 was another busy, crazy, chaotic day. And on that day we had a phone call from an attorney here in Colorado and this attorney requested that we create a custom cake and the cake would be blue on the outside and pink on the inside. And the colors were to celebrate the gender transition, the changing from a male to a female. And again, we try to explain to this person, "That's not a cake that we can create. That's a message that we can't promote, but we'll gladly sell you anything in our store or make other custom work for you." But that wasn't good enough so this attorney filed a complaint with the same Civil Rights Commission that attacked us in the first case. Three weeks after we get our victory at the Supreme Court and then United States Supreme Court told the commission that, "You were hostile to Jack in his faith and you can't do that. And you didn't treat him equally with other cake shops and bakeries in town and you have to." And they ignored that and decided that they were going to take up this new case. And so they did, but then that following March, they dismissed the charges and they dismissed the charges because we have a recording of one of their public meetings where they said that they were going to be even more hostile to me and my faith.

Sean McDowell: Oh gosh.

Jack Phillips: And the first issue was that they embraced that. And so the commission dropped the case, but then the attorney who's filed that complaint waited for a certain amount of time, legal window, whatever, and then filed a civil complaint against me. So we're back in court again for Masterpiece III. And just in March, we just finished the bench trial with that case. And during mediation, the mediator asked me one time or asked us all, "Have you two had a face to face conversation?" And we hadn't. It was just a phone conversation asking for the cake that day that the court granted our case. "Would that be something that could be set up?" And so back in November, this attorney and myself went to a cafe in a local community here and Jonathan Scruggs met me and took me over there and we sat for a couple hours and talked about these issues. And toward the end of this conversation, this attorney told me that, "Well, if you win this case or if it's thrown out on any technicality, I will come back the next day with another cake and we'll start all over again."

Sean McDowell: Oh my goodness.

Jack Phillips: And so part of this attorney's reasoning is that filed a lawsuit to correct the error of my thinking.

Sean McDowell: Yeah.

Jack Phillips: The courts back that up. That's a very frightening thought for any American.

Sean McDowell: Yeah.

Jack Phillips: For any person in the world, but for an American where we have these liberties clearly written in our constitution, it's a very frightening thing.

Sean McDowell: Jonathan, on Masterpiece Cakeshop II and III, how was the legal strategy a little bit different than the initial one that went all the way to Supreme Court?

Jonathan Scruggs: Well, it's similar principles, but it is a different, request for a different cake and as Jack noted the facts, I think, of this reading agrees that this attorney had also requested other absurd cakes like cakes celebrating Satan, also had emailed the government and had asked the government to prosecute Jack numerous times. So this was not some happenstance encounter. This is really harassment, pure and simple. Someone using these laws to try to cancel Jack Phillips, not because of what he's done or anything he's done, but because of what he believes and that's why the First Amendment exists. The First Amendment exists to prevent, whether it be a private party or the private party using the judicial system or the government from trying to target someone.

Sean McDowell: Yeah.

Jonathan Scruggs: So we're using the same arguments. We've won in Masterpiece I, we've won in Masterpiece II. It'll work off. We're going to win this case as well.

Sean McDowell: Jack, what have you learned through all this? I mean, this has been years. I can't imagine how draining it is. What have you learned personally, spiritually, relationally, about yourself? Give us a couple life lessons that we could take away from your experience.

Jack Phillips: Yeah. One of the obvious ones is if this can happen to me, because I'm just a small businessman in a small business here in Lakewood, Denver, Colorado, it can happen to anybody. But we knew right from the start before we opened our cake shop is there were cakes that we couldn't create. We discussed that a couple times here, but we drew our lines in the sand. And then one of the things that we decided we wouldn't create was Halloween cakes. So every year people call us up and ask us to create these cakes and we get the chance to explain that we can't. And I believe that God's grace in giving us practice so that when the big event comes up, it didn't catch us off guard. We were already used to, "This is our line and we can't cross it because it would dishonor my God and that wouldn't be faithful." And so when this one came up, we knew where we would stand. So that's one of the main things that I'm so grateful for, that God has provided everything we need. Even those trials leading up to it were practice to get to the big trial and then to watch his provision through all of this, not just supplying ADF, which-

Sean McDowell: Sure.

Jack Phillips: I couldn't afford to take a lawyer to lunch, let alone have a team lawyers working beside me all the way through for almost nine years now.

Sean McDowell: Yeah.

Jack Phillips: He's provided so many things and shown his grace and his love and eventually, he'll show his justice and sovereignty that way too. So it gives us the opportunity to share our faith so many times. We have a joke that we should open a cake shop because sometimes the conversations have nothing to do with bakeries and people just come by to see the baker or whatever. They come to encourage me and we get to encourage them. So just seeing God's provision, his faithfulness, and his love in just the most wonderful thing that has happened through all of this.

Sean McDowell: A final question for you, if you could role play with me, obviously there's people watching this. There's people who see this very differently because they have a different world view and would interpret you not baking the cake as being discriminatory, hateful, and unloving. If somebody says to you, calls and says, "Jack you're a bigot, just bake the cake." What would you say?

Jack Phillips: It depends on how the conversation can unfold, but hopefully I will share that my faith is in Jesus Christ, that I have a strong relationship with him and I want to honor him, but that it's not the person who's asking for the cake, it's the cake itself and try and, if possible, like, "What do you do for a living?" "I paint houses," or whatever it is, and then try and find common ground. "I'm a singer." "Okay. So if you were a singer, maybe a Muslim singer, you would now be required to sing in an Easter service. Would it be loving for me to make you do that?" Or whatever. Just try and find some correlation where they can understand that there's a reason that I couldn't create the cake and it's never, never, never the person who's ordering the cake and I want to show love and grace through the relationship that I have with Christ.

Sean McDowell: Well, Jack, I'm sorry that you have had to go through this, but I've been following this from afar and I'm just grateful that you've tried to honor the Lord through this, tried to be loving towards people as best you can, but also stand up and kind of take the hits, so to speak. You have a line in the book that says, "We lose liberty and freedom when people don't stand up and that's not going to happen on your watch." So I love that. It's a book of courage. It's wonderfully written, just draws you in, the story is fast, and I hope the viewers will pick up the Cost of My Faith. And Jonathan, thanks so much for what you do at ADF.

Jonathan Scruggs: Yeah.

Sean McDowell: This is one of the most important cases today, and we appreciate you coming behind Jack, all the things you do to preserve religious liberty, not just for Christians, but for all Americans, regardless of their worldview, regardless of their faith. That's a good...