“In his dissenting opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges Justice Clarence Thomas predicted that the court’s declaration that same-sex marriage is a right would ultimately lead to conflict between that purported right and religious liberty.
“In his concurring opinion… in Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Thomas concludes: “This case proves that the conflict has already emerged.”
“In Obergefell, decided by a 5-4 vote in 2015, the Supreme Court declared that the 14th Amendment creates a right for people of the same sex to marry one another.
“‘The Court’s decision today is at odds not only with the Constitution, but with the principles upon which our Nation was built,’ Thomas wrote in his dissent in Obergefell. ‘Since well before 1787, liberty has been understood as freedom from government action, not entitlement to government benefits. The Framers created our Constitution to preserve that understanding of liberty.
“‘Yet the majority invokes our Constitution in the name of a ‘liberty’ that the Framers would not have recognized, to the detriment of the liberty they sought to protect,’ Thomas continued. ‘Along the way, it rejects the idea—captured in our Declaration of Independence—that human dignity is innate and suggests instead that it comes from the government. This distortion of our Constitution not only ignores the text, it inverts the relationship between the individual and the state in our Republic. I cannot agree with it.’
In his Obergefell dissent, Thomas went on to warn: “‘In our society, marriage is not simply a governmental institution; it is a religious institution as well. Today’s decision might change the former, but it cannot change the latter. It appears all but inevitable that the two will come into conflict, particularly as individuals and churches are confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples… The majority appears unmoved by that inevitability,’ wrote Thomas.
“‘It makes only a weak gesture toward religious liberty in a single paragraph,’ Thomas said in his Obergefell dissent. ‘And even that gesture indicates a misunderstanding of religious liberty in our Nation’s tradition. Religious liberty is about more than just the protection for ‘religious organizations and persons… as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths.’ Religious liberty is about freedom of action in matters of religion generally, and the scope of that liberty is directly correlated to the civil restraints placed upon religious practice.’
“In the Masterpiece Cakeshop case… the issue was whether the state of Colorado could make the owner of a small bakery create a wedding cake for the celebration of a same-sex marriage.
“‘Jack Phillips is an expert baker who has owned and operated the shop for 24 years,’ Justice Kennedy explained in the opinion of the court. ‘Phillips is a devout Christian. He has explained that his ‘main goal in life is to be obedient to’ Jesus Christ and Christ’s ‘teachings in all aspects of his life.’
“The baker indicated that he would gladly sell his other products to a same-sex couple and would make other types of cakes for them, but that he would not create a cake to celebrate their same-sex wedding. He argued that this violated both his First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion and his First Amendment right to freedom of speech.
“The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which held that the baker was required by law to make the cake, had in fact violated the baker’s right to the free exercise of religion.
“But the opinion of the court, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, was narrowly focused and turned on the court’s determination that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had not been ‘neutral’ toward the baker’s particular religious beliefs when it decided it could force him to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.
“In his concurring opinion, Thomas argued that the baker’s right to freedom of speech had also been violated. ‘While Phillips rightly prevails on his free-exercise claim, I write separately to address his free-speech claim,’ said Thomas.
“‘Phillips’ creation of custom wedding cakes is expressive,” said Thomas. ‘The use of his artistic talents to create a well-recognized symbol that celebrates the beginning of a marriage clearly communicates a message…’
“Forcing Phillips to make custom wedding cakes for same-sex marriages requires him to, at the very least, acknowledge that same-sex weddings are ‘weddings’ and suggest that they should be celebrated—the precise message he believes his faith forbids,” Thomas concludes.
“Because the Court’s decision vindicates Phillips’ right to free exercise, it seems that religious liberty has lived to fight another day,” Thomas says. “But, in future cases, the freedom of speech could be essential to preventing Obergefell from being used to ‘stamp out every vestige of dissent’ and ‘vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.’ If that freedom is to maintain its vitality, reasoning like the Colorado Court of Appeals’ must be rejected.”
In the Phillips decision, it was not. The U.S. constitutional principle of Religious Liberty is really hanging on by a thread. Eventually, the United States will repudiate every principle of its constitution including and especially religious liberty. See Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, and page 451.