Franklin Graham is urging prayers as the Supreme Court prepares to hear oral arguments in a landmark case regarding a Christian baker who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding - a case Graham says "has huge repercussions for freedom of expression and religious liberty in our country."
"I've written about Jack Phillips before-He's the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado who refused to custom design a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage ceremony because of his strongly held convictions about the biblical definition of marriage," the Samaritan's Purse CEO wrote in a Facebook post on Monday.
"TOMORROW morning--Tuesday, December 5th--Jack's case will be coming before the Supreme Court," he continued. "This is a very significant case and has huge repercussions for freedom of expression and religious liberty in our country, so I ask you to pray. Pray for Jack, pray for Kristen Waggoner at Alliance Defending Freedom who will argue the case, and pray for our Supreme Court Justices."
In 2014, Phillips, who has also refused to make Halloween cakes and anti-American cakes in the past, was found guilty by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission of discriminating against same-sex couple Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig in 2002 for refusing to participate in their same-sex marriage by baking a cake for their wedding.
Phillips subsequently appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the case - Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission - "could determine if the First Amendment to the Constitution will continue to protect the freedom of artists who wish to act in a manner consistent with their sincerely held beliefs," according to Michael Farris, head of the Alliance Defending Freedom. He argues that the case is simply about Phillips' "basic liberty" to "live his life and operate his business consistently with the values that he holds dear."
"It belongs to him as a dissenter from the prevailing views on marriage, just as it belongs to those in the majority," he writes.
"If the Supreme Court recognizes that in its decision - if it affirms that Phillips is part of our community and that he has a rightful place in the public square - we as a society will move toward a more tolerant position on the deeply divisive moral issue over the meaning of marriage," he says.
Phillips has maintained that he doesn't hate gay people, but cannot use his artistic talents for an event that contradicts his deeply-held religious views.
"What I design is not just a tower of flour and sugar, but a message tailored to a specific couple and a specific event - a message telling all who see it that this event is a wedding and that it is an occasion for celebration," he writes in an op-ed for USA Today.
"In this case, I couldn't. What a cake celebrating this event would communicate was a message that contradicts my deepest religious convictions, and as an artist, that's just not something I'm able to do, so I politely declined."
"But this wasn't just a business decision," he says. "More than anything else, it was a reflection of my commitment to my faith. My religious convictions on this are grounded in the biblical teaching that God designed marriage as the union of one man and one woman."
Phillips said his family has received endless "hate mail, obscene calls and death threat" since he was sued, indicating "a lot of other people don't see tolerance as a two-way street."
"We live in a big, diverse nation. We don't all have to agree on religion. We don't have to agree on questions of sexual morality. We don't even have to agree on the meaning of marriage," he writes.
"What we should be able to agree on is our mutual freedom, as Americans, to live out the ideals that are most important to us," he continues. "Just as I shouldn't be able to use the law to force others to design something that promotes my beliefs, others shouldn't be able to force me to design a cake that celebrates theirs.