Bakery Religious Freedom Case Is a Slam Dunk—In a Sane World

The Supreme Court made several monumental rulings yesterday and agreed to hear another that will decide whether religious freedom is still a core principle in the United States. The long-awaited showdown on religious freedom --- as it applies to Christian bakers, florists, photographers and owners of wedding venues providing services for same-sex weddings --- will finally have its day in court.

"Here's why you should care about this story. Freedom of religion, the freedom to exercise the dictates of your own conscience is at stake. You may have to participate in compelled speech. That's not good. You may have to participate in things that you have a deep feeling and a deep belief that it is wrong. We are talking about at the level of, if you're a pacifist and you're a Quaker, do you have to go and fight?" Glenn asked on radio Tuesday.

Unless the high court upholds the First Amendment as written, services providers will be forced to violate their deeply held religious beliefs to serve customers.

"How can you possibly violate the First Amendment by forcing the baker to participate in something that is a violation of his religious convictions? This is a slam dunk in a sane world," Glenn said.

We'll know in due time. The justices are expected to rule on the appeal case from Colorado baker Jack Phillips in 2018.

Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:

GLENN: I'm going to start with some really good news. The Supreme Court made some monumental rulings yesterday and agreed to hear another that will decide whether religious freedom is still a core principle in the United States, but let's look at what they did do yesterday.

The long-awaited showdown on religious freedom as it applies to Christian bakers, florists, photographers, owners of wedding venues and others who have been forced into participating in gay wedding ceremonies, we have a quick recap on this first ruling. There have been several of these incidents around the country, but the one that is going to be decided by the Supreme Court involves a case in Colorado.

Now, in Colorado, the lower court ruled that Jack Philips, he is the owner of a place called the Masterpiece Cake Shop, violated Colorado's public accommodations law.

Now, the public accommodation law means that you can't refuse service to customers based on things like race or sex or marital status or sexual orientation.

Here's why you should care about this story. Freedom of religion, the freedom to exercise the dictates of our own conscience is at stake. You may have to participate in compelled speech. That's not good.

You may have to participate in things that you have a deep feeling and a deep belief that it is wrong. We are talking about at the level of, if you're a pacifist and you're a Quaker, do you have to go and fight? Well, yes. You do. Because it's for the country, and we're all citizens.

Well, but that goes against the dictates of my spirit, my conscience.

You lose conscientious objector. You lose the right of your own conscience. And you are no longer in control.

Now, let's look at the facts. Here are the things that we absolutely know: A gay couple, David Mullins and Charlie Craig visited the Masterpiece Cake Shop in 2012, along with Craig's mother. They wanted to order a cake for their upcoming wedding reception.

Now, Mullins and Craig planned to marry in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriages were legal at the time and then hold the reception in Colorado. But Philips said, "I'm sorry. My religious beliefs, I can't make your wedding cake for same-sex marriage." He said, "There are other bakeries that will be happy to accommodate you. I just have these religious feelings that I cannot move past." Now, here is something important in the fact category: Gay marriage was still prohibited by Colorado law in 2012, meaning that the Colorado civil rights commission determined that Philips' action violated state law, even though gay marriage violated Colorado state law at the time.

So they're both apparently breaking the law. Even so, the ruling was upheld in Colorado state courts. Now, those are the facts of the case.

The contested facts are Jack Philips is a bigot. We don't know. He's a homophobe. We don't know. He's violating the rights of the gay couple because he's a religious zealot. Well, when did religiosity become something that you had to shed?

His -- he believes his religious sensibilities and his conviction are being violated. He believes it is against his religion to participate in their ceremony, and that is a clear violation of the First Amendment. Now, here's what I believe: This is what this story means to me. What you should take away. If this were the other way around, if a gay baker were being asked by a Christian couple to make a wedding cake that said marriage can only be between a man and a woman, there is no way the state of Colorado would be forcing the gay baker to make that cake. No way.

If the baker were Muslim, try to imagine the scenario where the court would be forcing him to deny the tenets of Islam. But because Christianity is our major religion, it seems as though it is perfectly acceptable to limit, discriminate against, and totally disregard the convictions of those who practice it. Why?

Because Christians have been the oppressor. Forget about the oppression that is happening in Islamic states. We are a bigger oppressor, as Christians.

Now, how can you possibly violate the First Amendment by forcing the baker to participate in something that is a violation of his religious convictions? This is a slam-dunk in a sane world.

The Supreme Court needs to rule in favor of the First Amendment and every American citizen's right to free expression of religion.

Now, if it's a sham, that's something different. And that's why we didn't accept conscientious objectors from everybody. You had to show that that is what your faith taught and you were a good member of your faith.

If this is still America, there is no other way to rule. And the court will rule on this soon.

Yesterday, the court did make four decisions, some of them good, others, not so much. But there's good news here. In religious liberty, the Supreme Court made a ruling yesterday that flies in the face of the nonexistent separation of church and state.

This is a -- this is a big win for people of faith. Until now, Christian-based abstinence organizations have been denied funding, and pro-life organizations have been denied participation in governmental programs. While at the same time, an abortion mill like Planned Parenthood will receive half a billion dollars a year in government spending. Until now.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled 7:2, that the government cannot exclude churches and other faith-based organizations from secular programs simply because they have a religious identity. 7:2. This is a huge surprise. Because it -- it means that reliable progressive judges, Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer, both joined Kennedy, Roberts, Alito, Thomas, and our new judge, Neil Gorsuch. And they join them on the side of the religious organizations.

The case involved the state of Missouri denying a church a partial reimbursement grant for rubberized playground surface material made from recycled tires. And the reason why they rejected it because the church runs the preschool, even though the only purpose of the grant program is to improve children's safety. It sounds like no big deal. But it is actually a very big deal. Thanks to that playground, Christian organizations can no longer be discriminated against. It is a step towards restoring sanity and the constitutional principles. Now, me personally, I have a problem with a tax exempt organization getting tax dollars. But I would say that about any organization, not just churches.

This is, however, in my mind, overall, because it means that if you're Christian, you can get the same services at everyone else. The court has taken a step towards ensuring you, you and your children, will be allowed to continue to exercise your faith the wait you see fit and you are not excluded from the rest of society. This is a rare victory for, not Christians, but the Constitution, and strengthens a core American principle.

There was another case involving a same-sex couple. Two female couples petitioned the Supreme Court to review their case, which fought the Arkansas Department of Health Insurance, or issuance of birth certificates, bearing only the birth mother's name and not the female spouse.

It would have said birth number and then, you know, the spouse of the -- the father. This is something that is always done, even if the father isn't the father. And it's -- it's done for other groups. It's just being held back, not allowing to have a female spouse.

They ruled yesterday and adhered to a provision of the Arkansas law, which was rejected by a trial law. Kept in place by the Arkansas Supreme Court. The high court reversed and remanded the Arkansas high court's judgment. They found that until -- until now, opposite sex couples were being treated differently than same-sex couples in similar situations.

Now, here's what's interesting about this: Neil Gorsuch issued a blistering dissent from the Supreme Court's decision that Justice Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito both joined. So it appears as though Gorsuch is ruling in the way he was advertised to rule, conservatively. We wondered if he would do this on social issues. He certainly did on this one.

Gay rights, an issue that has absolutely now been resolved in America, the battle is over, according to the courts and in large part the mindset of the American people. Gay couples have all of the same benefits and rights as opposite sex partners. There is no longer any differentiation. Your children are growing up in a world now, where it is possible, if not likely, that parts of the Bible could be considered hate speech soon.

Now, gun rights. Strangely, the court refused to hear an important California case, whether the Second Amendment gives people a right to carry handguns outside of their home for self-defense, including concealed carry, when open carry is forbidden by state law. Clarence Thomas, again, Neil Gorsuch, dissented from the court's decision not to hear the case. Thomas wrote, in part, quote, for those who work in the marbled halls, guarded constantly by a vigilant and dedicated police force, the guarantees of the Second Amendment might seem antiquated and superfluous. But the Framers made a clear choice: They reserved to all Americans the right to bear arms for self-defense. I do not think that we should stand idly by while a state denies a citizen that same right, particularly when their very lives may depend on it, end quote.

If you have been holding your collective breath on Neil Gorsuch, wondering if he's going to turn out like Thomas or Scalia or he be co-opted by the leftist on the bench and wind up like Souter and Kennedy. The early results -- we have some interesting facts about this later on in the broadcast -- the early results show that Gorsuch is everything as advertised. This is encouraging news from him. He seems to be the justice that everybody hoped he would be.

But because the court as a whole refused to hear the Second Amendment case -- and I think this one is critical -- not only did they squander the opportunity to strengthen the Second Amendment, but for now, gun owners in California are mostly unable to obtain a permit to carry a gun. So they have no protection. And California is more and more dangerous in the cities.

The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed is still not understood by many in the United States. For whatever reason, court failed to act on behalf the Constitution.

Finally, the travel ban. President Trump's travel ban was surprisingly mostly -- mostly allowed by the court. It's -- it's not entirely allowed. It's just mostly allowed.

Maybe we can get Miracle Max to take it all the way home. They will give a full -- this issue a full hearing later in the fall. The Supreme Court, however, yesterday removed the injunction issued by lower courts on refugees, without a close tie to the United States.

Meaning that for the vast majority of refugees, the ban is now being upheld in the interest of national security. It seems like Donald Trump, at this point, is just asking for time to figure out what's going on. And, you know, it's not hard to figure this one out. But, you know, I believe there are extremists out there that want to create chaos and kill innocent Americans. And by allowing our government and this administration time to decide how best to secure our nation in a time where it's very difficult to discern who the good guys are and the bad guys are, Americans, many of them are somewhat relieved by this ruling. None of us want to see what's happening in Europe. But, again, none of us want to see a repeat of anything like the Japanese internment camps. This is not a permanent situation, and none of us want our children and our wives, our husbands placed in undue peril. We don't have to accept everybody in our country at once, and we do have an obligation to be discerning about who we allow in. And so far, the court is siding with Donald Trump.

On Wednesday's TV show, Glenn Beck sat down with radio show host, author, political commentator, and film critic, Michael Medved.

Michael had an interesting prediction for the 2020 election outcome: a brokered convention by the DNC will usher in former First Lady Michelle Obama to run against President Donald Trump.

Watch the video below to hear why he's making this surprising forecast:

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On Thursday's "Glenn Beck Radio Program," BlazeTV's White House correspondent Jon Miller described the current situation in Virginia after Gov. Ralph Northam (D) declared a state of emergency and banned people carrying guns at Capitol Square just days before a pro-Second-Amendment rally scheduled on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Jon told Glenn that Gov. Northam and the Virginia Legislature are "trying to deprive the people of their Second Amendment rights" but the citizens of Virginia are "rising up" to defend their constitutional rights.

"I do think this is the flashpoint," Jon said. "They [Virginia lawmakers] are saying, 'You cannot exercise your rights ... and instead of trying to de-escalate the situation, we are putting pressure. We're trying to escalate it and we're trying to enrage the citizenry even more'."

Glenn noted how Gov. Northam initially blamed the threat of violence from Antifa for his decision to ban weapons but quickly changed his narrative to blame "white supremacists" to vilify the people who are standing up for the Second Amendment and the Constitution.

"What he's doing is, he's making all all the law-abiding citizens of Virginia into white supremacists," Glenn said.

"Sadly, that's exactly right," Jon replied. "And I think he knows exactly what he's doing."

Watch the video to catch more of the conversation below:

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To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

Ryan: Trump Louisiana Finale

Photo by Jim Dale

Part One. Part Two. Part Three.

At the end of Trump rallies, I would throw on my Carhartt jacket, sneak out of the press area, then blend in with everyone as they left, filing out through swinging doors.

Often, someone held the door open for me. Just 30 minutes earlier, the same person had most likely had most likely hissed at me for being a journalist. And now they were Sunday smiles and "Oh, yes, thank you, sir" like some redneck concierge.

People flooded out of the arena with the stupidity of a fire drill mishap, desperate to survive.

The air smacked you as soon as you crossed the threshold, back into Louisiana. And the lawn was a wasteland of camping chairs and coolers and shopping bags and to-go containers and soda cans and articles of clothing and even a few tents.

In Monroe, in the dark, the Trump supporters bobbled over mounds of waste like elephants trying to tiptoe. And the trash was as neutral to them as concrete or grass. They plodded over it because it, an object, had somehow gotten in their way.

It did not matter that they were responsible for this wreckage.Out in the sharp-edged moonlight, rally-goers hooted and yapped and boogied and danced, and the bbq food truck was all smoke and paper plates.

They were even more pumped than they had been before the rally, like 6,000 eight year olds who'd been chugging Mountain Dew for hours. Which made Donald Trump the father, the trooper, God of the Underworld, Mr. Elite, Sheriff on high horse, the AR-15 sticker of the family.

Ritualistic mayhem, all at once. And, there in Louisiana, Trump's supporters had gotten a taste of it. They were all so happy. It bordered on rage.

Still, I could not imagine their view of America. Worse, after a day of strange hostilities, I did not care.

My highest priority, my job as a reporter, was to care. To understand them and the world that they inhabit. But I did not give a damn and I never wanted to come back.

Worst of all, I would be back. In less than a week.

Was this how dogs felt on the 4th of July? Hunched in a corner while everyone else gets drunk and launches wailing light into the sky? configurations of blue and red and white.

It was 10:00 p.m. and we'd been traveling since 11:00 a.m., and we still had 5 hours to go and all I wanted was a home, my home, any home, just not here, in the cold sweat of this nowhere. Grey-mangled sky. No evidence of planes or satellites or any proof of modern-day. Just century-old bridges that trains shuffled over one clack at a time.

And casinos, all spangles and neon like the 1960s in Las Vegas. Kitchy and dumb, too tacky for lighthearted gambling. And only in the nicer cities, like Shreveport, which is not nice at all.

And swamp. Black water that rarely shimmered. Inhabited by gadflies and leeches and not one single fish that was pretty.

Full of alligators, and other killing types. The storks gnawing on frogs, the vultures never hungry. The coyotes with nobody to stop them and so much land to themselves. The roaches in the wild, like tiny wildebeests.

Then, the occasional deer carcass on the side of the road, eyes splayed as if distracted, tongue out, relaxed but empty. The diseased willows like skeletons in hairnets. The owls that never quit staring. A million facets of wilderness that would outlive us all.

Because Nature has poise. It thrives and is original.

Because silence is impossible. Even in an anechoic chamber, perfectly soundproofed, you can hear your own heartbeat, steady as a drum. A never-ending war.

I put "Headache" by Grouper on repeat as we glided west. We were deadlocked to asphalt, rubber over tarface.

And I thought about lines from a Rita Dove poem titled "I have been a stranger in a strange land"

He was off cataloging the universe, probably,
pretending he could organize
what was clearly someone else's chaos.

Wasn't that exactly what I was doing? Looking for an impossible answer, examining every single accident, eager for meaning? telling myself, "If it happens and matters the next year, in America, I want to be there, or to know what it means. I owe it to whoever cares to listen."

Humans are collectors and I had gone overboard.

Because maybe this wasn't even my home. These landmarks, what did they mean? Was I obvious here? When I smiled, did I trick them into believing that I felt some vague sense of approval? Or did my expressions betray me?

Out in all that garbage-streaked emptiness — despite the occasional burst of passing halogen — I couldn't tell if everything we encountered was haunted or just old, derelict, broken, useless. One never-ending landfill.

Around those parts, they'd made everything into junk. Homes. Roads. Glass. Nature. Life itself, they made into junk.

I cringed as we passed yet another deer carcass mounded on the side of the road.

As written in Job 35:11,

Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds in the sky?

Nobody. Look at nature and you feel something powerful. Look at an animal, in all of its untamable majesty, and you capture a deep love, all swept up in the power of creation. But, here, all I saw were poor creatures who people had slammed into and kept driving. Driving to where? For what reason? What exactly was so important that they left a trail of dead animals behind them?

So I crossed myself dolorously and said an "Our Father" and recited a stanza from Charles Bukowski's "The Laughing Heart"

you can't beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.

Out here, nothing but darkness. Needing some light, by God. Give me something better than a Moon that hides like an underfed coward.

Jade told me about some of the more traumatic things she'd seen while working at the State Fair.

"Bro, they pull roaches out of the iced lemonade jugs and act like nothing happened."

"All right but what about the corn dogs?"

"You do not want to know, little bro."

She looked around in the quiet. "Back in the day, the Louisiana Congress refused to raise the drinking age from 18 to 21," she said. "They didn't want to lose all that drunk gambler money. So the federal government cut off funding to highways."

We glided through moon-pale landscape for an hour before I realized what she had meant. That there weren't any light poles or billboards along the road. Nothing to guide us or distract us. Just us, alone. And it felt like outer space had collapsed, swallowed us like jellybeans.

Like two teenagers playing a prank on the universe.

In the cozy Subaru Crosstrek, in the old wild night, brimming with the uncertainty of life and the nonchalance of failure, we paraded ourselves back to Dallas. Alive in the river silence that follows us everywhere.

New installments come Mondays and Thursdays. Next, the Iowa caucuses. Check out my Twitter. Email me at kryan@blazemedia.com

The Iowa primary is just around the corner, and concerns of election interference from the last presidential election still loom. Back in 2016, The Associated Press found that a majority of U.S. elections systems still use Windows 7 as an operating system, making them highly susceptible to bugs and errors. And last year, a Mississippi voter tried multiple times to vote for the candidate of his choice, but the system continuously switched his vote to the other candidate. It's pretty clear: America's voting systems desperately need an update.

That's where blockchain voting comes in.

Blockchain voting is a record-keeping system that's 100% verifiable and nearly impossible to hack. Blockchain, the newest innovation in cybersecurity, is set to grow into a $20 billion industry by 2025. Its genius is in its decentralized nature, distributing information throughout a network of computers, requiring would-be hackers to infiltrate a much larger system. Infiltrating multiple access points spread across many computers requires a significant amount of computing power, which often costs more than hackers expect to get in return.

Blockchain voting wouldn't allow for many weak spots. For instance, Voatz, arguably the leading mobile voting platform, requires a person to take a picture of their government-issued ID and a picture of themselves before voting (a feature, of course, not present in vote-by-mail, where the only form of identity verification is a handwritten signature, which is easily forgeable). Voters select their choices and hit submit. They then receive an immediate receipt of their choices via email, another security feature not present in vote-by-mail, or even in-person voting. And because the system operates on blockchain technology, it's nearly impossible to tamper with.

Votes are then tabulated, and the election results are published, providing a paper trail, which is a top priority for elections security experts.

The benefits of blockchain voting can't be dismissed. Folks can cast their vote from the comfort of their homes, offices, etc., vastly increasing the number of people who can participate in the electoral process. Two to three-hour lines at polling places, which often deter voters, would become significantly diminished.

Even outside of the voting increase, the upsides are manifold. Thanks to the photo identification requirements, voter fraud—whether real or merely suspected—would be eliminated. The environment would win, too, since we'd no longer be wasting paper on mail-in ballots. Moreover, the financial burden on election offices would be alleviated, because there's decreased staff time spent on the election, saving the taxpayer money.

From Oregon to West Virginia, elections offices have already implemented blockchain voting, and the results have been highly positive. For example, the city of Denver utilized mobile voting for overseas voters in their 2019 municipal elections. The system was secure and free of technical errors, and participants reported that it was very user-friendly. Utah County used the same system for their 2019 primary and general elections. An independent audit revealed that every vote that was cast on the app was counted and counted correctly. These successful test cases are laying the groundwork for even larger expansions of the program in 2020.

With this vital switch, our elections become significantly more secure, accurate, and efficient. But right now, our election infrastructure is a sitting duck for manipulation. Our current lack of election integrity undermines the results of both local and national elections, fans the flames of partisanship, and zaps voter confidence in the democratic system. While there's never a silver bullet or quick fix to those kinds of things, blockchain voting would push us much closer to a solution than anything else.

Chris Harelson is the Executive Director at Prosperity Council and a Young Voices contributor.