Welcome to G3 Weekly—a summary of this week’s top news stories on Christianity and the public square.
This week, the Christian baker who runs Masterpiece Cakeshop lost his court case after he was sued for refusing to make a transgenderism-themed confection. Data revealed specifics on how much church attendance declined following government lockdowns and public health mandates. Meanwhile, a golden statue in New York City meant to honor the legacy of late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg provoked significant controversy.
Christian Colorado Baker Will Appeal after Losing Court Case
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18).
Jack Phillips, the Christian baker from Colorado who was sued more than a decade ago for refusing to decorate a cake for a so-called same-sex marriage, lost a court case over his refusal to bake another cake meant to celebrate a gender transition.
On the same day Phillips won his Supreme Court case regarding the wedding cake five years ago, an activist attorney phoned Masterpiece Cakeshop and requested a custom pink and blue transgender-themed cake, as well as a cake depicting Satan smoking marijuana. After Phillips rejected both requests, the attorney filed a lawsuit, according to a press release from legal nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom.
Phillips lost his case in the Colorado state appeals court and intends to further appeal the decision. “Free speech is for everyone. No one should be forced to express a message that violates their core beliefs,” ADF Senior Counsel Jake Warner said. “Over a decade ago, Colorado officials began targeting Jack, misusing state law to force him to say things he does not believe. Then an activist attorney continued that crusade. This cruelty must stop.”
Church Attendance in America Down Significantly
“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us” (1 John 2:19).
The number of Americans reporting regular church attendance fell significantly between the advent of government lockdown mandates and the spring of last year.
New research from the American Enterprise Institute and the University of Chicago indicated that the share of the population reporting they “never” attend church or religious services increased from 25% to 33%, while the share reporting they “regularly” attend religious services declined from 26% to 24%.
The number of Americans reporting that they “occasionally” or “infrequently” attend religious services also expanded, although results varied based on demographics.
“Conservatives, older Americans, married adults, and college-educated Americans reported less of a decline in regular worship attendance than other Americans did,” according to the study. “In fact, their frequency of attendance at religious services was largely similar before and after the pandemic. In contrast, young adults, liberals and moderates, and Americans without a college degree were all more likely to never attend religious services before and after the pandemic.”
A previous analysis from Lifeway Research concluded that American Protestant churches witnessed only 85% of the attendance seen in January 2020 as of August 2022.
New York City Statue Compared to Pagan Idol
“Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love” (Jonah 2:8).
A new abstract sculpture meant to commemorate the life of deceased Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was placed on the top of a New York City courthouse.
The eight-foot-tall golden female statue, which has braided hair shaped like spiraling ram’s horns as well as arms and legs that become tentacles, now stands alongside stone monuments to Moses, Justinian, Zoroaster, Louis IX, and Confucius as a supposed noteworthy lawgiver in human history. The statue’s chest is adorned with a lace collar similar to the one Justice Ginsburg often wore over her black robe to challenge gender norms.
Shahzia Sikander, the artist who designed the statue, said the installation is meant as a call to action following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last summer. “She is a fierce woman and a form of resistance in a space that has historically been dominated by patriarchal representation,” Sikander said in an interview with the New York Times.
A similar statue was placed in Madison Square Park, which is near the courthouse. Commentators likened the installations to monuments which represent fertility goddesses in various pagan religions.