Tag Archives: Bible

In ‘Scopes monkey trial’ home, an evolution debate rages on

In 1925, two of America’s most renowned figures faced off in the southeast Tennessee town of Dayton to debate a burning issue — whether man evolved over millions of years or was created by God in his present form.

Today, only one of the two, the Christian orator William Jennings Bryan, is commemorated with a statue on the courthouse lawn.

A group of atheists hopes to change that.

Bryan defended the Biblical account while trial lawyer and skeptic Clarence Darrow defended evolution in the “Scopes monkey trial” — formally, Tennessee vs. John Thomas Scopes. The case became front-page news nationwide and is memorialized in songs, books, plays and movies.

Nearly a century later, the debate pitting evolution against the biblical account of creation rages on nationally and locally. Nearly all scientists accept evolution, but many Christians see it as incompatible with their faith. Just two years ago in Dayton, professors at a Christian college named for Bryan were fired in a dispute over whether Adam and Eve were historical people.

One might expect a town that reveres Bryan to resist efforts to memorialize his antagonist, but Reed Johnson, managing editor of The Herald-News in Dayton, said that vocal resistance hasn’t materialized. He doesn’t recall angry letters to the editor.

County Commissioner Bill Hollin said he doesn’t think many people are aware of the effort, but he’s against it and thinks others will join him. “I don’t see where it would help the community at all to put it up there,” he said.

Bryan, on the other hand, represents more than the Scopes trial, Hollin said. His legacy in Dayton includes the college that was founded in 1930 and educates many of the area’s young people.

Still, townspeople are resigned to the idea of a Darrow statue, said Christian writer Rachel Held Evans, a Bryan College alumna.

“I think there is a sense that, ‘Oh, it’s only fair. We have our side, and they have their side. We have our statue, and they have their statue,” she said.

Ed Larson, who wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning book about the trial called “Summer for the Gods,” said that Dayton has historically been hospitable to both sides, and that outrage over the teaching of evolution in 1925 was manufactured.

The trial is often remembered as the persecution of teacher Scopes for teaching evolution, which Tennessee had outlawed, but it actually began as a publicity stunt for Dayton, Larson said.

Larsen explained that locals had responded to a newspaper advertisement by the American Civil Liberties Union looking for someone to test Tennessee’s anti-evolution law in court. No one had complained about Scopes or his teaching; he was recruited to be the defendant, Larson said. Scopes never spent time in jail and was offered his job back after the trial, Larsen said — and Bryan even offered to pay his fine.

Evans said part of the trial’s legacy has been negative: a lasting sense that belief in evolution conflicts with Christianity, something she no longer believes.

“I grew up as a conservative evangelical, and we always heard about the trial that William Jennings Bryan was a hero who came in and put everyone in their place,” she said. “Even in college, I was told I could either believe in the Bible or I could believe in evolution.”

But many say part of the legacy is positive: Dayton has seen a stream of visitors to the red-brick courthouse in the town square that still looks much as it did when the judge moved the trial’s action onto the lawn — worried the floor would cave in from the weight of spectators — and Darrow began questioning Bryan’s views on the Bible.

The courthouse basement now holds a small museum. On the trial’s anniversary in July, a festival is held, with a courtroom play re-enacting trial scenes.

At this year’s festival, Dayton resident Richard DeArk sold hand-crafted earrings, some with a monkey theme, on the courthouse lawn near the Bryan statue. Asked about the Darrow statue, he said, “It’s about time!”

Tom Brady, the courthouse maintenance supervisor, said he hasn’t heard objections to the Darrow statue. “The trial helped Dayton,” he said.

Tom Davis, president of the Rhea County Historical and Genealogical Society, was asked to make a recommendation to the county executive about the two statues. He said in an interview that the group supported the Bryan statue in 2005 but realized at the time “if we do this, we’ll probably face a request for a Darrow statue one day, and we’ll probably have to support that.”

The American Humanist Association is raising money for the statue, but the creative side is the work of Pennsylvania sculptor Zenos Frudakis, who says Darrow is too important to the story to leave out.

Frudakis said he has the county executive’s permission to erect the statue opposite Bryan on the courthouse lawn as long as the county doesn’t have to spend any money on it and it is similar in size and style to the Bryan statue. But County Commissioner Hollin said he believes his panel will have to give its blessing first, something he does not see happening.

Frudakis said he is a fan of Darrow but doesn’t want his statue to be controversial.

“Right now they only have William Jennings Bryan there, standing alone,” Frudakis said. “Add Darrow, and it recreates the historical drama of 1925, the way it played out in the public eye and galvanized the nation.”

Bible among most challenged books on latest list

On the latest list of books most objected to at public schools and libraries, one title has been targeted nationwide, at times for the sex and violence it contains, but mostly for the legal issues it raises. The Bible.

“You have people who feel that if a school library buys a copy of the Bible, it’s a violation of church and state,” says James LaRue, who directs the Office for Intellectual Freedom for the American Library Association, which released its annual 10 top snapshot of “challenged” books this week, part of the association’s “State of Libraries Report” for 2016.

“And sometimes there’s a retaliatory action, where a religious group has objected to a book and a parent might respond by objecting to the Bible.”

LaRue emphasized that the library association does not oppose having Bibles in public schools.

Guidelines for the Office for Intellectual Freedom note that the Bible “does not violate the separation of church and state as long as the library does not endorse or promote the views included in the Bible.”

The ALA also favors including a wide range of religious materials, from the Quran to the Bhagavad Gita to the Book of Mormon.

LaRue added that the association does hear of complaints about the Quran, but fewer than for the Bible.

The Bible finished sixth on a list topped by John Green’s “Looking for Alaska,” which has been cited for “offensive language” and sexual content. The runner-up, challenged for obvious reasons, was E L James’ raunchy romance “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

“I Am Jazz,” a transgender picture book by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, was No. 3, followed by another transgender story, Susan Kuklin’s “Beyond Magenta.”

The list also includes Mark Haddon’s “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” Alison Bechdel’s “Fun Home,” Craig Thompson’s “Habibi,” Jeanette Winter’s “Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan” and David Leviathan’s “Two Boys Kissing,” with one objection being that it “condones public displays of affection.”

“Many of the books deal with issues of diversity,” LaRue said. “And that often leads to challenges.”

The association bases its list on news reports and on accounts submitted from libraries and defines a challenge as a “formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.”

Just 275 incidents were compiled by the ALA, down from 311 the year before and one of the lowest on record.

The ALA has long believed that for every challenge brought to its attention, four or five others are not reported. LaRue says the association does not have a number for books actually pulled in 2015.

Challenged works in recent years have ranged from the Harry Potter novels to Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Discussing recent events, LaRue said he was concerned by legislation that Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe recently vetoed forcing schools to warn parents if their children will be assigned books with sexually explicit content. A Fairfax County mother had protested the use of Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Beloved” in her son’s high school senior class. The 1987 novel set in the post-Civil War era includes scenes depicting sex, rape and bestiality and has appeared occasionally on the ALA challenged books list.

“We see the danger of censorship moving from the school library into the English classroom,” LaRue said.

On the Web

www.ala.org

‘Bible bill’ vetoed by Tenn. governor

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam yesterday vetoed a bill that would have made Tennessee the only state to designate the Bible as its official book.

In his veto message, Haslam said the bill “trivializes the Bible, which I believe is a sacred text.”

The bill narrowly passed both chambers of the Tennessee General Assembly. Sponsors said the law was intended to honor the role that the Bible has played in the state’s history and economy. They said it was not government endorsement of religion.

“If we believe that the Bible is the word of God, then we shouldn’t be recognizing it only as a book of historical and economic significance,” Haslam said.

Lawmakers passed the bill despite the state attorney general’s warning that it would violate both the U.S. and Tennessee constitutions.

The Bible bill came to a vote in the state Senate just days before the candidate filing deadline, suggesting it might have been a political maneuver.

Sponsors Sen. Steve Southerland, an ordained minister, and Rep. Jerry Sexton, a retired Baptist pastor said they’d seek to override Haslam’s veto next week.

After a marathon debate last year, the bill received 55 votes in the House, or five more votes than the minimum needed to pass. In the Senate earlier this month, the bill received 19 votes, two more than the minimum.

Earlier in the session, the Legislature approved a resolution to add the .50-caliber Barrett sniper rifle to the list of the state’s official symbols, which also includes the Tennessee cave salamander, the eastern box turtle and the channel catfish.

Lawmakers also approved nine state songs, including the moonshine-themed “Rocky Top.”

Kentucky clerk continues defying orders to issue same-sex marriage licenses

A gay couple marched into the county clerk’s office Aug. 13, carrying a federal judge’s order that said the clerk can’t deny them a marriage license based on her deeply held Christian beliefs.

Still, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’ office turned them away.

Davis, who’e reportedly been married four times, was among a handful of clerks across the country to cite “deeply held religious beliefs” in denying gay marriage licenses after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in June. She was the first to be sued and her attorneys vowed to keep fighting in a case legal experts have likened the resistance some local officials put up five decades ago when the Supreme Court legalized interracial marriage.

“We’re going to keep coming back,” said Karen Roberts, shaking after she was denied a license to marry April Miller, her partner of 11 years. “We’re going to fight this to the very end.”

Three other couples streamed into the clerk’s office in this eastern Kentucky college town throughout the morning, and all were denied.

Staff in Davis’ office said she was on vacation. Though she has six employees authorized to issue licenses, deputy clerk Nathan Davis said the office was advised by its attorneys with the Christian law firm Liberty Counsel to continue refusing same-sex couples is it appeals the judge’s decision.

The staff handed one couple a Post-it note with Liberty Counsel’s toll-free phone number.

“Kim Davis is just an example of what’s going to be happening not only to other clerks but to other people who are going to be confronted with this issue and we think that this is a serious matter that needs to be decided by a higher court, even the Supreme Court,” said Liberty Counsel founder Mathew Staver.

Clerks and judges in pockets across the South halted issuing licenses in the days after the Supreme Court’s decision. Some resigned rather than acknowledge a same-sex marriage. Others relented under the threat of legal action and began handing them out. It’s not clear exactly how many clerks nationwide are still refusing to issue licenses, but at least one other county clerk in Kentucky has pledged that he would not.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear has told defiant clerks, who are elected, to issue licenses or resign.

U.S. District Judge David L. Bunning said in his ruling that Davis has likely violated the U.S. Constitution’s protection against the establishment of a religion by “openly adopting a policy that promotes her own religious convictions at the expenses of others.”

“Davis remains free to practice her Apostolic Christian beliefs. She may continue to attend church twice a week, participate in Bible Study and minister to female inmates at the Rowan County Jail. She is even free to believe that marriage is a union between one man and one woman, as many Americans do,” Bunning wrote. “However, her religious convictions cannot excuse her from performing the duties that she took an oath to perform as Rowan County Clerk.”

Davis’ attorneys have asked the judge for a stay, and Bunning has not yet ruled.

In the meantime, Laura Landenwich, an attorney for the couples, said they are considering asking the judge to hold Davis in contempt, which could carry a hefty fine or the threat of jail time.

Davis, elected last November as a Democrat, took over the office from her mother, Jean Bailey, who served as county clerk for 37 years, according to the Morehead News. Davis worked under her mother as a deputy clerk for 26 years. Nathan Davis refused to say if he is related to Kim Davis.

The battle has exposed the deep rift that remains in this county of 23,000 people, considered to be among the most progressive in Appalachian Kentucky.

James Yates and William Smith Jr., a couple for nearly a decade, said there was a difference between the clerk’s actions and their experience in Morehead. They held hands as they walked into the clerk’s office, and gay rights activists, who have lined the street with rainbow signs and flags every day for more than a month, shouted “Good luck!”

Still, some of the couples struggled to reconcile their support in the community and the rejection at the county clerk’s office.

David Ermold broke down in the county’s judge-executive’s office, after he was denied a license to marry David Moore, his partner of 17 years. He felt angry and humiliated.

“I will say that people are cruel, they are cruel, these people are cruel,” Ermold said, tears welling in his eyes. “This is how gay people are treated in this country. This is what it’s like. This is how it feels.”

The county judge executive’s secretary, Lois L. Hawkins, started to cry with him. She declined to comment, except to say it broke her heart and there was nothing she could do to help them.

Oklahoma court: Remove Ten Commandments monument at Capitol

A Ten Commandments monument on the Oklahoma Capitol grounds is a religious symbol and must be removed because it violates the state’s constitutional ban on using public property to benefit a religion, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled on June 30.

Oklahoma’s highest court said the Ten Commandments chiseled into the 6-foot-tall granite monument, which was privately funded by a Republican legislator, are “obviously religious in nature and are an integral part of the Jewish and Christian faiths.”

The 7-2 ruling overturns a decision by a district court judge who determined the monument could stay.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt had argued that the monument was historical in nature and nearly identical to a Texas monument that was found constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Oklahoma justices said the local monument violated the state’s constitution, not the U.S. Constitution.

“Quite simply, the Oklahoma Supreme Court got it wrong,” Pruitt said in a statement. “The court completely ignored the profound historical impact of the Ten Commandments on the foundation of Western law.”

Pruitt said his office would ask the court for a rehearing and request that the monument be allowed to stay until the court considers his request.

Since the original monument was erected in 2012, several other groups have asked to put up their own monuments on the Capitol grounds. Among them is a group that wants to erect a 7-foot-tall statue that depicts Satan as Baphomet, a goat-headed figure with horns, wings and a long beard.

A Hindu leader in Nevada, an animal rights group, and the satirical Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster also have made requests.

Rep. Mike Ritze, a Republican from Broken Arrow whose family paid about $10,000 for the monument’s construction, pushed the bill authorizing the monument. He said Tuesday he hoped the attorney general would appeal the ruling.

The original monument was smashed into pieces in October, when someone drove a car across the Capitol lawn and crashed into it. A 29-year-old man who was arrested the next day was admitted to a hospital for mental health treatment, and formal charges were never filed.

A new monument was built and put up again in January.

Tennessee House votes to make Bible official state book

The Tennessee state House ignored serious constitutional concerns — and the wishes of Republican leaders in the Statehouse — in voting to make the holy Bible the official state book.

The chamber approved the measure 55-38 on April 15. It is sponsored by Republican Rep. Jerry Sexton, a former pastor, who argued that his proposal reflects the Bible’s historical, cultural and economic impact in Tennessee.

Tennessee’s attorney general, Herbert Slatery, warned in a legal opinion earlier this week that the bill would violate separation of church and state provisions of both the federal and state constitutions.

Constitutional concerns raised over similar proposals in Mississippi and Louisiana caused lawmakers there to drop those measures in recent years. While Tennessee supporters acknowledged the likelihood of a lawsuit if the bill becomes law, several said it would be worth the expense.

“There are some things that are worth standing up for,” said Rep. Andy Holt, a Republican. “Markets, money and military are meaningless without morals. I think it’s time for our body to make a stand.”

Several lawmakers raised concerns about putting the Bible on par with innocuous state symbols such as the official salamander, tree and beverage.

“‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ is a book, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is a book,” said Rep. Patsy Hazlewood, R-Signal Mountain. “The Bible is the word of God, it’s a whole a whole different level.”

Supporters were dismissive of concerns raised during the floor debate.

“It’s not just a book,” Sexton said. “I base my life, my ministry and my family on this book.”

Rep. Micah Van Huss said if the Bible becomes the state book, people won’t be required to worship or follow Christianity.

“The dog and the cat are state symbols and nobody in Tennessee is required to purchase a dog or a cat,” the Republican said.

Sexton said nothing prevents other works to be named official state books alongside the Bible. Tennessee, after all, has several state songs, he said.

The measure would need to be approved by the Senate before heading to the desk of Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, who opposes it. The governor wouldn’t tell reporters whether he’d veto the measure.

Senate sponsor Steve Southland told the Citizen Tribune of Morristown that he expects the governor would allow the measure to become law without his signature. Haslam appeared surprised by Southerland’s prediction.

“He must be reading my mind somehow — or attempting to,” Haslam said. “That’s definitely not coming from us.”

Other prominent opponents of the measure include the Republican speakers of both chambers, Sen. Ron Ramsey and Beth Harwell, along with the Senate and House GOP leaders, Rep. Gerald McCormick and Sen. Mark Norris.

Norris told reporters it would be “a dark day for Tennessee” if the Senate approves the bill on April 16.

“All I know is that I hear Satan snickering, he loves this kind of mischief,” Norris said. “You just dumb the good book down far enough to make it whatever it takes to make it a state symbol, and you’re on your way to where he wants you.”

Bakery’s refusal to put anti-gay slur on cake not discriminatory

A Castle Rock, Colorado, religious leader said he plans to appeal after the state Civil Rights Division rejected his arguments that a bakery discriminated against his religion when it refused to make a cake with a gay slur.

The Colorado Civil Rights Division ruled recently that Azucar Bakery did not discriminate against William Jack because the baker offered to bake the cake and let the customer write his own message, which the baker considered derogatory.

Colorado ACLU legal director Mark Silverstein said that that the baker did not discriminate because she agreed to bake the cake. Silverstein said her decision not to decorate the cake was not based on the customer’s religion, but because she considered the message offensive.

Marjorie Silva, owner of Denver’s Azucar Bakery, told The Associated Press after the case was filed that she agreed to make a Bible-shaped cake, but balked when the man showed her a piece of paper with what she considered hateful words about gays that he wanted written on the cake. He also wanted the cake to have two men holding hands and an X on top of them, Silva said.

She said she would make the cake, but she declined to write his suggested messages, telling him she would give him icing and a pastry bag so he could write the words himself. Silva said the customer didn’t want that.

The state ruled that the bakery would have treated any other customer the same way.

The bakery owner did not return a phone call from the AP seeking comment on Sunday, and a phone number for Jack could not be located.

Jack said in a statement to KUSA-TV that people are trying to censor the Bible using state laws and he plans to appeal.

“It is offensive that the bakers who refused me service deemed the Bible verses I requested on two cakes discriminatory, and the Colorado Civil rights Division considered that reason enough for them to deny me service,” he said in a statement to KUSA-TV.

Reagan Foundation: Walker telling of Bible story is correct

An official at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library this week sought to clarify her account of how Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker came to handle a family Bible the late president used when taking the oath of office.

Library registrar Jennifer Torres said a “simple misunderstanding” left the wrong impression that Walker personally sought to hold the book. A spokeswoman for the Reagan Foundation says Walker’s retelling of the moment is correct.

Walker told the story of having his picture taken with the Bible at a 2013 Reagan Day dinner in Milwaukee. He described in his speech how he was surprised to see the Bible had been taken out of its exhibit case, so that he could pose with it for a photo.

In a series of emails with the liberal magazine The Progressive, Torres said that Walker had asked to see the Bible.

On March 16, Torres said that Walker’s advance team had indeed asked about Walker viewing the Bible, but that his surprise at being offered the chance to hold it was genuine.

“It was the Reagan Foundation’s request to actually pull the Bible from the case and allow Gov. Walker to hold the Bible,” Torres said. “It was not Gov. Walker nor his team’s idea to request that we remove it from the case or take a picture of the governor with it.”

In his 2013 speech, Walker also said he was told that former first lady Nancy Reagan wanted him to hold the book and pose for a photo.

Melissa Giller, a spokeswoman for the Reagan Foundation, said Walker likely got that idea because Nancy Reagan’s chief of staff had to give permission for the Bible to be removed.

“She knew Mrs. Reagan would also like the idea and we shared that with him,” Giller said in an email. “We aren’t sure how the other story got out (that it was his idea), and we feel badly about it because nothing about it was his idea.”

Torres, in an email she sent to Giller explaining what happened, called it a “simple misunderstanding.” Giller said that she, not anyone associated with Walker, sought out the additional information from Torres about what happened.

Kirsten Kukowski, a spokeswoman for Walker’s political group, Our American Revival, said in a statement late last week that, “Gov. Walker was honored to speak at the Reagan Library and to hold his mother’s Bible. He was and continues to be one of his heroes, a president for the ages that accomplished great things for our country.” She said on March 16 that Walker’s group had no additional comment.

Library curator disputes Scott Walker’s story about handling Reagan’s family Bible

Gov. Scott Walker’s tale of how he came to hold the family Bible that President Ronald Reagan used when taking the oath of office doesn’t match the memory of the presidential library curator charged with caring for the book.

A likely Republican candidate for president, Walker grew up during Reagan’s presidency and considers him a political role model. Walker, 47, frequently notes that his wedding anniversary and Reagan’s birthday fall on the same date.

At a 2013 Reagan Day dinner in Milwaukee, Walker told a Reagan story that he said “gives me a little bit of a shiver.”

He described being invited by Nancy Reagan to give a speech at the Reagan Library near Los Angeles in November 2012, five months after he won a recall election that stemmed from his successful effort to curtail the union rights of public employees in his state.

Walker said he met with Nancy Reagan before the speech and told her that he had won the recall on the eighth anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s death.

Walker went on to describe how, during a tour of the library before the speech, the library curator “unbeknownst to me” had taken the Reagan family Bible out of its display and readied it for him to look at.

“And they brought over a pair of white gloves to me and they said, ‘No one has touched this since President Reagan. It is his mother’s Bible that he took the oath of office on. Mrs. Reagan would like you to hold it and take a picture with it’,” Walker said in a YouTube video of part of the speech posted by the liberal magazine The Progressive.

Audience members can be heard gasping, then applauding as Walker tells the story.

But library artifacts curator Jennifer Torres told The Progressive in a series of emails that it was Walker who had asked to view the Bible while at the library.

“We decided to remove the Bible the day Gov. Walker was in town to comply with his request, took the Bible back to collections after the photo and re-installed it on exhibit a few days later,” Torres said in the March 4 email.

Torres also said in the email that Walker’s assertion that he was the first person to touch the Bible since Ronald Reagan was untrue.

“Since the president’s passing, several staff members and conservators have handled the Bible, all while wearing gloves,” Torres said in the emails. “It is unknown if President Reagan was the last to have to have touched the Bible without gloves, but it is doubtful.”

Torres said Walker was the only visiting dignitary to have handled the Bible, adding that he was also likely the only one to have made such a request.

Asked about the discrepancy between Walker’s telling and Torres’ recollections, Kirsten Kukowski, a spokeswoman for Walker’s political group, Our American Revival, said in a statement that, “Gov. Walker was honored to speak at the Reagan Library and to hold his mother’s Bible. He was and continues to be one of his heroes, a president for the ages that accomplished great things for our country.”

Torres did not respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press, but Jennifer Mandel, another Reagan library employee, confirmed that Torres had sent the emails describing Walker’s request to see the Bible.

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Baker faces complaint for refusing cake with anti-gay message

A dispute over a cake in Colorado raises a new question about gay rights and religious freedom: If bakers can be fined for refusing to serve married gay couples, can they also be punished for declining to make a cake with anti-gay statements?

A baker in suburban Denver who refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding is fighting a legal order requiring him to serve gay couples even though he argued that would violate his religious beliefs.

But now a separate case puts a twist in the debate over discrimination in public businesses, and it underscores the tensions that can arise when religious freedom intersects with a growing acceptance of gay couples.

Marjorie Silva, owner of Denver’s Azucar Bakery, is facing a complaint from a customer alleging she discriminated against his religious beliefs.

According to Silva, the man who visited last year wanted a Bible-shaped cake, which she agreed to make. Just as they were getting ready to complete the order, Silva said the man showed her a piece of paper with hateful words about gays that he wanted written on the cake. He also wanted the cake to have two men holding hands and an X on top of them, Silva said.

She said she would make the cake, but declined to write his suggested messages on the cake, telling him she would give him icing and a pastry bag so he could write the words himself. Silva said the customer didn’t want that.

“It’s just horrible. It doesn’t matter if, you know, if you’re Catholic, or Jewish, or Christian, if I’m gay or not gay or whatever,” said Silva, 40, adding that she has made cakes regularly for all religious occasions. “We should all be loving each other. I mean there’s no reason to discriminate.”

Discrimination complaints to Colorado’s Civil Rights Division, which is reviewing the matter, are confidential. Silva said she would honor the division’s policy and would not share the correspondence she has received from state officials on the case. KUSA-TV reported the complainant is Bill Jack of Castle Rock, a bedroom community south of Denver.

In a statement to the television station, Jack said he believes he “was discriminated against by the bakery based on my creed.”

“As a result, I filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division. Out of respect for the process, I will wait for the director to release his findings before making further comments.”

Jack did not respond to emails from The Associated Press seeking comment. No one answered the door at the address listed for Jack in Castle Rock.

The case comes as Republicans in Colorado’s Legislature talk about changing the state law requiring that businesses serve gays in the wake of a series of incidents where religious business owners rejected orders to celebrate gay weddings. Republican Sen. Kevin Lundberg said the new case shows a “clash of values” and argued Colorado’s public accommodation law is not working.

“The state shouldn’t come in and say to the individual businessman, `You must violate your religious – and I’ll say religious-slash-moral convictions. This baker (Silva), thought that was a violation of their moral convictions. The other baker, which we all know very well because of all the stories, clearly that was a violation of their religious convictions,” Lundberg said.

But gay rights advocates say there is a significant difference in the cases. Silva refused to put specific words on a cake while Jack Phillips, the baker who turned away the gay couple, refused to make any wedding cake for them in principle.

“There’s no law that says that a cake-maker has to write obscenities in the cake just because the customer wants it,” said Mark Silverstein, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Colorado.

Phillips’ attorneys had argued in court that requiring him to prepare a gay marriage cake would be akin to forcing a black baker to prepare a cake with a white supremacist message. But administrative law judge Robert N. Spencer disagreed, writing that business owners can refuse a specific message, but not service.

“In both cases, it is the explicit, unmistakable, offensive message that the bakers are asked to put on the cake that gives rise to the bakers’ free speech right to refuse,” administrative law judge Robert N. Spencer said.

Phillips’ attorney, Nicolle Martin, said she has sympathy for Silva, arguing she is in the same category as her client. “I absolutely support her right to decline,” Martin said. “I support her right as an American to pick and choose the messages she will express.”

Silva said she remains shaken up by the incident. “I really think I should be the one putting the complaint against him, because he has a very discriminating message,” she said.