On October 11, John joined Prof. Robin Fretwell Wilson and moderator Dr. John Jackson, the President of William Jessup University, at the Fifth Annual Court/Clergy Conference in Sacramento, for a panel on “Building Bridges in Polarizing Times.” The Conference brought together people from across the political spectrum to discuss religious liberty and related issues.

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At the online Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, Nicholas Bamforth provides a thoughtful review of Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination. His takeaway:

Overall, this book is a thought-provoking endeavour, and it is commendable that the authors have tried to challenge one another and to find areas of agreement. Their willingness to reach out and engage in reasoned debate is valuable in and of itself. However, they have not succeeded in reaching any real consensus, sometimes even about reference-points for the debate. Perhaps, though, their willingness to engage may be all that can reasonably be hoped for when so many components of the debate involve dispute.

Read the full review here.

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In the Detroit Free Press, John explains the Court’s decision in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. From the piece:

The case was not “narrowly decided” in the sense of being a close verdict: Indeed, it was a 7-2 decision. But it was “narrowly written,” in the sense of applying only to this particular commission’s treatment of this particular baker in this particular case. It does not decide, one way or another, whether bakers generally have a right to refuse to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples.

John was also asked to share his thoughts with the Christian Science Monitor. He responded:

The decision didn’t settle the hard questions, but it acknowledged that there are indeed hard questions here and that we won’t do a good job of addressing them if we’re too quick to label either side as “despicable.” In doing so, it invited us all to turn down the heat in the culture wars – a result I very much welcome.

Read his further thoughts in his full Freep op-ed here.

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Sara Krulwich/NYT

At The New York Times, John explains how to draw a line between some of the cake cases in the news. From the article:

Therein lies the crucial difference between the cases: Silva’s objection was about what she sold; a design-based objection. Phillips’s objection was about to whom it was sold; a user-based objection. The gay couple never even had the opportunity to discuss designs with Phillips, because the baker made it immediately clear that he would not sell them any wedding cake at all.

Read the full article here.

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