2018 saw many religious liberty cases become household conversation topics, and 2019 will be no different.
"Some of the cases that I encourage people to watch coming up is Masterpiece Cakeshop," says attorney Kate Anderson of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the law firm representing Phillips. "The state of Colorado has come after Jack Phillips again because, according to this religious beliefs, he declined to create a custom cake to celebrate a gender transition. The state of Colorado has come after him again, finding him in violation of the law. And the commissioners who adjudicated over that decision, one of them has called him a hater on Twitter. So we're seeing continued hostility towards Jack Phillips and toward people of all faith."
UPDATE: Phillips had filed a lawsuit against Colorado for its hostility toward him and his religious beliefs. The state had sought to have that case dismissed. Now a federal district court has issued an order allowing Phillips to proceed with his lawsuit.
Another important case to watch is Brush & Nib studio in Arizona.
"The City of Phoenix has come after two young artists who hand paint, hand letter, and do calligraphy for weddings," Anderson continues. "They believe that marriage is between one man and one woman, so when they pour their heart and soul into their design, they can only create artwork that is aligned with their religious beliefs. Yet Phoenix has told them that they must create custom artwork, including wedding vows, wedding signs, writing out Bible verses, to celebrate same-sex marriage, in violation of their beliefs. And if they fail to do so, these two women face up to six months in jail and $2,500 in fines for each day they don't comply."
Anderson adds that these issues are also being seen in places like homeless shelters and adoption agencies.
"There is a case in Alaska right now involving a women's shelter that is being forced by the city of Anchorage to admit biological men who identify as women, even though that means that they'll be sleeping just three feet from women in their shelter, many of whom have been abused, assaulted, sex trafficked, [or] victims of domestic violence," she explains. "So we're starting to see some very practical applications to these laws. These things are bad for religious freedom, but they're also bad for women and for the people that these ministries serve."
Even if a person is not religious, Anderson believes everyone should care about issues.
"We see that freedoms run together and that strong freedoms of religion and freedoms of speech protect everybody because it ensures that each person in America is able to act and organize their life according to their own values and their own beliefs," she submits. "Regardless of how you feel about Jack's beliefs, that's a principle you should get behind."
Editor's note: Update added after story was originally posted.