Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips may be one of the nation’s best-known Christians, but he wasn’t always a believer.
Mr. Phillips, who won a 2018 Supreme Court decision over his faith-based refusal to create a same-sex wedding cake, recounted Friday of how he accepted Jesus Christ at age 23 while driving home in his 1966 blue Mustang after working the night shift at a Colorado bakery.
“I do know the exact moment. I’m just driving down Kipling and headed towards Wheat Ridge where we lived, and suddenly the Holy Spirit was in my car,” said Mr. Phillips on the opening night of the Western Conservative Summit in Denver.
An emotional Mr. Phillips said, “I know that sounds — I know how it sounds, but He convicted me of my sin in that moment.”
Mr. Phillips, now embroiled in another legal battle for turning down an order to make a gender-transition cake, said the story is included in his newly released biography, “The Cost of My Faith: How a Decision in My Cake Shop Took Me to the Supreme Court.”
He said he had “gone to church growing up, but I quit going to church when I was like 17. At that point, I think I was 23, and I was married and two kids.”
The hardest part, he said, was telling his wife Debi Phillips.
“God told me, go tell your wife what you’ve just done,” Mr. Phillips said. “And I said, that’s not a good idea. She’ll probably walk out on me. Just a few weeks before, my sister-in-law had invited her to church, nothing more, and my wife blew up at her — ‘Christians, you’re all hypocrites,’ and all this stuff.’”
He said that “if that’s the reception she gets just for [getting invited] to church, what’s going to happen when I tell her about this life-changing experience?”
Mr. Phillips said he went to bed, but was unable to sleep, even though he normally has no trouble.
“[God said] ‘Go tell her now, I’ll be with you,’” he said. “So I went out into the kitchen, she looked up at me, surprised that I’m awake—I was surprised to be awake.”
“I said, I became a Christian today, expecting her—I don’t know what I was expecting,” said Mr. Phillips, choking up. “She said, ‘Me too, three days ago.’”
He drew a straight line from that night to his refusal to create certain products when he ultimately opened Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, including cakes that “celebrate Halloween or cakes that were anti-American or racist.”
“That’s what caused me to change my life, change my attitude towards my marriage, the direction I raised my kids, the way I handled my money, and eventually when I opened the shop, why I wanted to honor God in everything I did, because of that day,” he said.
Replied Centennial Institute director Jeff Hunt: “He met you, He changed your life, and then through you has changed the world because of your faithfulness.”
A Denver District Court judge ruled Tuesday that Mr. Phillips violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act by refusing a 2017 request by Autumn Scardina to bake the pink-and-blue gender-transition cake, a decision his Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys plan to appeal.