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.

As the nation soaks in the victory of the recent passing of the historic First Step Act, there are Congressmen who haven't stopped working to solve additional problems with the criminal justice system. Because while the Act was impactful, leading to the well-deserved early release of many incarcerated individuals, it didn't go far enough. That's why four Congressmen have joined forces to reintroduce the Justice Safety Valve Act—legislation that would grant judges judicial discretion when determining appropriate sentencing.

There's a real need for this legislation since it's no secret that lawmakers don't always get it right. They may pass laws with good intentions, but unintended consequences often prevail. For example, there was a time when the nation believed the best way to penalize lawbreakers was to be tough on crime, leading to sweeping mandatory minimum sentencing laws implemented both nationally and statewide.

RELATED: If Trump can support criminal justice reform, so can everyone else

Only in recent years have governments learned that these sentences aren't good policy for the defendant or even the public. Mandatory minimum sentences are often overly harsh, don't act as a public deterrent for crime, and are extremely costly to taxpayers. These laws tie judges' hands, preventing them from using their knowledge and understanding of the law to make case relevant decisions.

Because legislation surrounding criminal law is often very touchy and difficult to change (especially on the federal level, where bills can take multiple years to pass) mandatory minimum sentences are far from being done away with—despite the data-driven discoveries of their downfalls. But in order to solve the problems inherent within all of the different laws imposing sentencing lengths, Congress needs to pass the Justice Safety Valve Act now. Ensuring its passing would allow judges to use discretion while sentencing, rather than forcing them to continue issuing indiscriminate sentences no matter the unique facts of the case.

Rather than take years to go back and try to fix every single mandatory minimum law that has been federally passed, moving this single piece of legislation forward is the best way to ensure judges can apply their judgment in every appropriate case.

When someone is facing numerous charges from a single incident, mandatory minimum sentencing laws stack atop one another, resulting in an extremely lengthy sentence that may not be just. Such high sentences may even be violations of an individual's eighth amendment rights, what with the imposition of cruel and unusual punishment. It's exactly what happened with Weldon Angelos.

In Salt Lake City in 2002, Weldon sold half a pound of marijuana to federal agents on two separate occasions. Unbeknownst to Weldon, the police had targeted him because they suspected he was a part of a gang and trafficking operation. They were oh-so-wrong. Weldon had never sold marijuana before and only did this time because he was pressured by the agents to find marijuana for them. He figured a couple lowkey sales could help out his family's financial situation. But Weldon was caught and sentenced to a mandatory 55 years in prison. This massive sentence is clearly unjust for a first time, non-violent crime, and even the Judge, Paul Cassell, agreed. Judge Cassell did everything he could to reduce the sentence, but, due to federal law, it wasn't much.

The nation is facing an over-criminalization problem that costs taxpayers millions and amounts to the foolish eradication of individual liberties.

In cases like Weldon's, a safety valve for discretionary power is much needed. Judges need the ability to issue sentences below the mandatory minimums, depending on mitigating factors such as mental health, provocation, or physical illness. That's what this new bill would allow for. Critics may argue that this gives judges too much power, but under the bill, judges must first make a finding on why it's necessary to sentence below the mandatory minimum. Then, they must write a clear statement explaining their decision.

Judges are unlikely to risk their careers to allow dangerous criminals an early release. If something happens after an offender is released early, the political pressure is back on the judge who issued the shorter sentence—and no one wants that kind of negative attention. In order to avoid risky situations like this, they'd use their discretion very cautiously, upholding the oath they took to promote justice in every case.

The nation is facing an overcriminalization problem that costs taxpayers millions and amounts to the foolish eradication of individual liberties. Mandatory minimums have exacerbated this problem, and it's time for that to stop. Congresswomen and men have the opportunity to help solve this looming problem by passing the Justice Safety Valve Act to untie the hands of judges and restore justice in individual sentences.

Molly Davis is a policy analyst at Libertas Institute, a free market think tank in Utah. She's a writer for Young Voices, and her work has previously appeared in The Hill, TownHall.com, and The Washington Examiner.

New gadget for couples in 'the mood' lets a button do the talking

Photo by Matt Nelson on Unsplash

Just in time for Valentine's Day, there's a new romantic gadget for couples that is sure to make sparks fly. For those with their minds in the gutter, I'm not talking about those kinds of gadgets. I'm talking about a brilliant new device for the home called "LoveSync."

This is real — it's a simple pair of buttons for busy, modern couples who have plenty of time for social media and Netflix, but can't quite squeeze in time to talk about their... uh... special relationship.

Here's how it works. Each partner has their own individual LoveSync button. Whenever the mood strikes one partner, all they have to do is press their own button. That sets their button aglow for a certain period of time. If, during that time window, their partner also presses their own button, then both buttons light up in a swirling green pattern to signal that love has "synced"...and it's go time.

According to the makers of LoveSync, this device will "Take the Luck out of Getting Lucky." It brings a whole new meaning to "pushing each other's buttons." It's an ideal gift to tell your significant other "I care," without actually having to care, or talk about icky things like feelings.

If you find your significant other is already on the couch binge-watching The Bachelor, no problem! You can conveniently slink back to your button and hold it in for four seconds to cancel the desire. No harm, no foul! Live to fight another day.

Have fun explaining those buttons to inquiring children.

No word yet on whether LoveSync can also order wine, light candles or play Barry White. Maybe that's in the works for LoveSync 2.0.

Of course, LoveSync does have some pitfalls. Cats and toddlers love a good button. That'll be a fun conversation — "Honey, who keeps canceling my mood submissions?" And have fun explaining those buttons to inquiring children. "Yeah, kids, that button just controls the lawn sprinklers. No big deal."

If you've been dialing it in for years on Valentine's Day with flowers and those crappy boxes of chocolate, now you can literally dial it in. With a button.

Good luck with that.

The social power of 'Reddit' is helping teens of anti-vaxxers get vaccinated

Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch

Reddit certainly earns its motto as "the front page of the internet," with roughly 540 million visitors monthly, the third most-visited website in the U.S., sixth worldwide. Unlike Twitter and Facebook, Reddit is a largely anonymous platform. People's faces are masked, their names are disguised. Which makes their hidden humanity all the more impactful.

On Reddit, both news and serious information are threaded in among gifs of cats and posts about Call of Duty, but that doesn't make it any less important. For many people, Reddit signifies the town hall where news is passed along or stomped into obscurity.

It gives you a healthy read of our society as a whole.

RELATED: Forget Rabies, 'Woke' Hipsters in Brooklyn Skipping Vaccines to Prevent 'Dogtism'

A recent Pew Poll found that Reddit leans left politically at a rate higher than the general public. Most users are young men, whose extensive internet use gives them a gatekeeping authority over what information should be considered important. From there, it spreads through the rest of the internet and helps shape public opinion.

So, it makes a lot of sense that Reddit has become a sort of makeshift safe place for children who grew up with parents who refused to give them vaccinations. Of course, Reddit also vehemently mocks the anti-vaccination folks, for better or for worse, often the latter, but that's a subject for another day.

The Daily Dot recently published an article on this strange intersection of ideology and nerd culture. "Desperate teens of anti-vaxxers are turning to Reddit for vaccination advice."

The article follows Ethan, whose parents are staunchly against vaccinations:

But Ethan is not his parents. When he turned 18, he decided to take matters into his own hands. He wasn't sure where else to begin, so he turned to Reddit.

Where do I go to get vaccinated? Can I get vaccinated at my age?" Ethan asked his fellow redditors in December. Ethan's post flooded with over 1,000 comments from users offering their encouragement and support, along with practical advice. "Good on you for getting your vaccinations," one user responded. "It's never too late and you're not only protecting yourself but those around you who truly can't get vaccinated.

Ethan told the Daily Dot that some redditors even offered to give him money via GoFundMe or PayPal if insurance didn't cover the shots. "People were really supportive, and that was really cool," he said. "I had the blessing of Reddit. They were supporting me on a decision my mom freaked out about." Ethan is not alone. "More and more teens are turning to places like Reddit to seek out information on where and how to get vaccinated, and if it's too late."

Whatever your opinion on vaccinations, there's a positive message to all of this. A human message. Hopeful. Proof that, in an increasingly caustic world, people can turn to one another in times of need.

Whatever your opinion on vaccinations, there's a positive message to all of this. A human message. Hopeful.

Now more than ever, that is crucial.

Given the social power of Reddit, it is often characterized as a tool for politicians or political movements. Throughout the forum, various political ideologies gather and organize like factions in some ideological war. A political thread on Reddit is like a Facebook comment section at its most hostile, arrogant or confident, but with no identities attached to the attacks, rants or opinions. When you find yourself riled into a debate, it's easy to wonder who's behind the replies, especially the more vicious ones.

People often characterize it as a hive-mind message board full of circlejerk memes and jokes about SpongeBob. This description isn't entirely wrong, but it is shallow and incomplete. At its core, Reddit is humane. Its users, for the most part, are compassionate. If it were an experiment on human nature, the results would be gratifying.