Who wouldn't be curious about a guy who asks Azucar Bakery, on Broadway in Denver, to make two cakes shaped like open Bibles, with one cake reading, "God hates sin -- Psalm 45:7," and, "Homosexuality is a detestable sin -- Leviticus 18:22," and the other reading, "God loves sinners," and, "While we were yet sinners Christ died for us -- Romans 5:8"? It turns out that Bill Jack, the man who placed this cake order, is also a sometime talk-show host, which provides an easy opening to find out more about him.
After listening to a few hours of his shows on Generations Radio, a fundamentalist Christian outlet, and talking with him on the phone, I would describe Jack as a deeply religious individual who feels so besieged and alienated by normal life in America that he's had to carve out an extreme path to function in everyday society. His path has an internal logic to it, but to the rest of us, it can be hateful and discriminatory.
For example, on a podcasted Generations Radio show in January (audio below), Jack and co-host Steve Vaughan got angry about Planned Parenthood teaching sex education in public schools. They read an article alleging that a student felt "pressured to have sex" by the lessons.
"[T]he more sex these kids have, the more business [Planned Parenthood] has in aborting the babies," alleged Vaughan (at the 23:45 mark below).
"It's conflict of interest [for Planned Parenthood to be teaching sex education], I would think," added Jack.
"If you are a Christian, you should not have your kids in public school anyway," Vaughan continued (at the 26:15 mark below). "This is not a place for them to be witnessing to other people. Bad company corrupts good morals. And your children are going to be the ones to get changed. If you hug a pig, the pig doesn't get cleaner. Your kid gets dirty."
"I never heard that one before," laughed Jack. "But everybody needs a hug. But this is what Planned Parenthood does. They want your children to be pigs."
"Yeah," agreed Vaughan.
"They want them to wallow in the muck," Jack continued. "And what we need to is, we as Christians need to expose evil.... Shine the light of truth and grace on such activities. And so I urge you, as home-schooling parents, to investigate what's being taught in the public schools."
I told Jack that my kids go to public school, and even though rats were discovered at East High School in Denver this year, the place is full of beautiful kids. Why call my kid a pig?
"That's an illustration," he told me. "It's an analogy, and the analogy is fairly succinct and pithy and makes it clear. You don't want to entrust your student to someone who has an opposing worldview. That's not as pithy as punchy."
"But it's mean," I protested. "Would you agree?"
"No, it's not mean," he said. "It's a statement of fact."
"I take it as mean," I told him. "I respect what you just said about not sending your kid to public school. That's your right. But you're telling me my kid is dirty?"
"No, I didn't say your kid's dirtier," he replied. "Your kid gets polluted by a secular worldview."
Recognizing Jack's war against the "secular worldview" is key to understanding where he's coming from.
"For a Christian, your faith dictates your economics, you view of science, of art, of education," said Jack, who's a founder of Worldview Academy, which "trains Christians to think and live in accord with a biblical worldview." He adds, "It's not compartmentalized."
Jack has produced a video showing one way he applies this thinking. It's titled "Biblically Correct Tour of The Denver Zoo, The Denver Museum of Nature and Science, The Denver Museum of Art, Law and Order at the Colorado State Capitol, and Dinosaur Ridge outside Denver."
Which brings us back to Jack's cake order, with the anti-gay message.
When we spoke, Jack was upset that The Denver Post had characterized what he'd asked the baker to write on the cake as "gay slurs" and "hateful words."
I told Jack that I agreed with the Post's decision to report that the statement "Homosexuality is a detestable sin" is a slur, even if it's in the Bible. Our laws and cultural values affirm this, and so did Colorado's Civil Rights Division when it rejected Jack's complaint that his civil rights had been violated when Azucar Bakery refused his order for a cake emblazoned with "Homosexuality is a detestable sin" and other statements.
But Jack believes that "the Civil Rights Commission is acting like the Nazis. They are acting like those who want to reeducate the public."
It's a Bible verse, Jack has said in numerous interviews about homosexuality being a sin. He emphasized that if the Civil Rights Division is going to force one baker not to discriminate against gays who request cakes for their weddings, then it should force another baker not to discriminate against Christians who request an anti-gay Bible verse on another cake.
"So the Bible is an illegal, immoral book to be censored from the public arena?" he says. "That is offensive. It's censorship. It's tyranny. You either believe in the First Amendment or you believe in tyranny. My bottom line is that this is an effort to censor God from the public square."
But there are competing rights, I told Jack. Colorado's public accommodations law bars businesses from discriminating based on sexual orientation and religion, among other things. Even Colorado Republican John Suthers agreed that, under Colorado law, a baker must serve gay costumers or it's discrimination.
But, under the law, a baker isn't discriminating against a Christian if he or she refuses to make a cake with slurs on it. Civil society can reject the hateful words in the Bible and still protect Christians from legitimate discrimination.
"We are gutting the First Amendment," Jack said. "I'm talking about Bible verses, and suddenly they are being labeled gay slurs."
So for Jack, his religion, his practice of strict adherence to the Bible, no matter how archaic and out of step with how most people practice Christianity, is the trump card, his license to do things that most people -- as well as Colorado law -- see as hateful and discriminatory.
It's also the reason that he thinks my public-school-attending children are dirty, polluted by a secular worldview. It's part of the same continuum.