Christianity Today Hot Topics's latest issues impacting your faith.
  1. Colorado baker faces fines for refusing cakes for same-sex couples.

    As same-sex marriage became legal in more and more states and then across the country, evangelicals and others with religious objections have worried about their obligations to accommodate gay and lesbian couples. After several state-level disputes involving florists, photographers, and bakers, America’s highest court will finally rule on the issue.

    On Monday, the US Supreme Court announced it will take on the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which involves a Christian baker defending his decision to turn down wedding cake orders for same-sex couples.

    The case exemplifies the tension between upholding religious freedom rights and protecting LGBT individuals from discrimination. Americans are evenly split on the issue: about half (49%) say wedding vendors should be required to serve same-sex couples, while nearly as many (48%) say they should be able to refuse on religious grounds, according to the Pew Research Center.

    In a similar PRRI poll, majorities of every major religious tradition, including white evangelicals, said they did not believe small business owners should be allowed to “refuse services to gay and lesbian people.”

    The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) represents Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado. The Christian religious freedom group argues that, as a person of faith and as an artist, Phillips has the right to use discretion in the projects he works on—particularly when they oppose his religious beliefs.

    He was found guilty of violating Colorado’s antidiscrimination policy for turning down an order to make a cake for a gay couple’s wedding reception in 2012. Colorado has upheld the penalty, while courts in...

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  2. The crisis we face when the church is silent on social justice.

    In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis warns that the enemy sends errors in pairs: "He relies on our dislike of one to send us into the opposite." We’re all prone to address an evil that offends or victimizes us by embracing its flawed opposite. Nowhere is this clearer than the current relationship the church has with social justice, where many American Christians inadvertently embrace the extreme of uncompassionate individualism or permissive secularism. Both are a corruption of the grace and truth that is the gospel, and both feed into one another in subtle but devious ways.

    Many conservative Christians reject involvement in what has come to be known as the Christian social justice movement. To them, participation in this movement compromises doctrine by pursuing a false gospel that emphasizes cultural identity, social engineering, and earthly liberation over repentance and spiritual liberation from sin. This world becomes the focus and God’s law is replaced by interpretations of the human experience and relativism. To them, the achievements of this worldly bunch are negated by the frayed social fabric left in their wake. For instance, while they agree with equal treatment under the law for women, many believe the women’s equality movement has become an effort to deny natural gender distinctions and ultimately, to subside biological difference. Accurate or not, many evangelical Christians have used this narrative as justification to disparage and obstruct efforts connected with social justice.

    At best, this line of reason ignores injustice; at worst, it rationalizes the church’s participation in the oppressive status quo. From the Jim Crow era to mass incarceration today, overlooking systemic...

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