Three prominent Orthodox rabbinic organizations came out with official statements supporting the recent Supreme Court ruling in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop, a Christian baker in Colorado who refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.
In a narrow decision published on Monday, Justice Anthony Kennedy handed down a 7-2 ruling in favor of Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado. The supreme court ruled that Phillips was within his rights to refuse to provide creative services, such as a custom wedding cake for the marriage of a same-sex couple, on the basis of the his religious beliefs. The case pitted First Amendment claims of free speech against free exercise of religion, allowing the business to be exempt from laws ensuring non-discrimination in public accommodation.
The Orthodox Union (OU), one of the oldest and largest Orthodox Jewish organizations in the US, came out in support of the ruling.
“Too many pundits and politicians have lately engaged in rhetoric that seeks to paint religious liberty in a negative light, especially as they seek to advance policies to which some have sincere dissent,” Nathan Diament, the OU’s executive director for public policy, said in a statement. “Today, the United States Supreme Court sent a clear message: that the demonization of religious beliefs – especially in policymaking – is constitutionally unacceptable.”
“It’s crucial for Jews and for other minority communities that religious freedoms be given the strongest and widest scope,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “The intent of the policymakers is going to be taken into consideration when they’re evaluating a policy.”
The Rabbinical Alliance of America (RAA) (Igud HaRabonim), a national rabbinical organization, with over 950 Orthodox rabbis as members, also came out with a statement praising the Supreme Court ruling.
“Since its inception in 1942, the RAA has consistently championed the protection of our first amendment rights of freedom of speech and freedom of religious choices,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Hecht, presidium chairman of the Today’s decision, said. “Today’s decision, rendered by the highest court in the land, clearly demonstrates that our constitutional rights have not been quashed in favor of political correctness.”
He added: “In this historic decision, religious choice and religious conviction have been preserved and honored by the distinguished jurists of the Supreme Court, whom we wholeheartedly applaud. Everyone who cherishes religious liberty and the freedom of religious expression should take pause at this moment to thank God for the multitudinous rights conferred upon us in this great nation.”
The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), representing over 1000 traditional rabbis in matters of public policy, today welcomed the US Supreme Court Decision.
“The premise of the case was patently absurd,” said Rabbi Yaakov Menken, Managing Director of the CJV. “Bigotry has always been understood as discrimination against individuals. Leftist groups attempted to elevate same-sex marriage to be a fundamental matter of identity, such that not baking a wedding cake would be akin to refusing service to blacks or Jews. That would not enhance civil rights; it would have trampled them, sacrificing religious freedoms ensconced in the First Amendment on the altar of political correctness.”
“This case created a situation uniquely dangerous to Jewish Americans,” said CJV Vice President Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld, “Because our religion is one of observance. The Constitution does not speak merely of freedom of worship or belief, but underscores free exercise, free religious practice. The wrong decision would have prohibited free exercise of religion for business owners, rendering the First Amendment devoid of meaning in a way that affects every aspect of our lives. It could have made Jewish observance a target of potential lawsuits by those seeking a new form of persecution.”
“The people who sued Jack Phillips were not opposed to discrimination, but, as the Supreme Court determined, expert practitioners of the craft,” Rabbi Menken concluded, “and that was not what the Founding Fathers envisioned as American values. False accusations of bigotry demonstrate intolerance for those of different views and limit their freedoms. Those who tried to punish Phillips for expressing his religious beliefs in practice must ask themselves: is that the America in which they would want to live?”