gay cake2
Civil Liberties

The queer case of the gay cake

This is a guest post by the Rev’d Peter Ould – a Church of England priest, consultant statistician and former blogger with an interest in the topic of human sexuality (you can read the archive of his writing at www.peter-ould.net).

_______________________

Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man.
Bake me a cake as fast as you can;
Pat it and shape it and mark it “LGB”,
And if you won’t do it, you’ll be hearing from me.

In the news this week we heard that the man who walked into Ashers Bakery in Ulster and was turned down in his request for a decorated cake is taking the company involved to court with the help of the Northern Ireland Equality Commission. The Christian Institute have stepped in to support Ashers and are pitching the legal battle as a cultural issue between Christian and Gay Rights.

And they (the Christian Institute) are completely wrong. It strikes me that this issue has nothing to do with religious freedom per se and everything to do with interpreting the Equality Act correctly.

First, the facts. A man went into a baker’s and asked them to make and decorate a cake with a picture of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street, the slogan “Support Gay Marriage” and the logo of the campaigning group QueerSpace. When the bakers turned him down, he claims that he “suffered unlawful religious, political and sexual orientation discrimination”.

Really?

Let’s now dissect the case.

The most important fact to establish, first of all, is that gay marriage does not exist in Northern Ireland, and this is vital for discerning what the ruling should be. Given that gay marriage does not exist in Northern Ireland, you cannot discriminate against someone on the grounds that they are or are not in a same-sex marriage. Further, because gay marriage has been voted down by the Northern Ireland Assembly, and because a recent ECtHR ruling states clearly that gay marriage is not a human right per se (it is only a right once it is in place in a country), discrimination on the grounds of being in or not being in a gay marriage simply does not exist as a concept in Northern Ireland (though, of course, it does in Scotland and England & Wales).

That all means that a slogan such as “Support Gay Marriage” is a political statement, not an equalities-based statement. Gay marriage is a concept that is not an automatic right (see the ECtHR judgment) but is rather a legislative decision by the relevant authority. If the plaintiff wants to argue that the baker should be forced to create a cake with the political slogan “Support Gay Marriage”, then he is essentially arguing that all political slogans should be forced upon cake decorators with no right of veto. Try “Bring back Slavery” or “Vote UKIP” or “Introduce Infanticide”, and apply the same argument.

And note that this means that direct or indirect political discrimination did not occur. The political discrimination laws in Northern Ireland exist to avoid people being prejudiced on the grounds of party or political affiliation. Specifically, the Northern Ireland Equality Commission describes such discrimination in the following way:

It may be that individuals believe that they are treated less favourably than others because they are Catholic or Protestant or because they are perceived to hold either of these religious beliefs; or because they are perceived to be nationalist or unionist; or indeed individuals may be discriminated against because they do not hold any of these beliefs or opinions. Political opinion is not limited solely to Northern Ireland constitutional politics and may include political opinions relating to the conduct or government of the state, or matters of policy, eg, conservative or socialist political opinions. A political opinion which includes approval or acceptance of the use of violence for political purposes in Northern Ireland is excluded. Religious belief includes those of other religions, eg, Judaism, Islam and Eastern Orthodox Christianity, as well as other faiths and philosophies such as Hinduism, Buddhism and philosophical theism, to name a few.

I can’t see anything in the case to suggest the plaintiff was refused the cake because he was Republican or Unionist, Protestant or Catholic. Is he discriminated against because he is not a Christian? Well, given that the bakers would have refused the cake even if a Christian had asked for it, there is no direct discrimination. Is there something intrinsic about not being a Christian that means you support gay marriage (and would therefore lead to an indirect discrimination claim)? Given that some Christians and some non-Christians support gay marriage, whilst some Christians and some non-Christians don’t support it, how can there be indirect discrimination?

Let’s move on.

Was the plaintiff discriminated against because he was gay? No: it is more than likely that a ‘straight’ person ordering the same cake would have been refused. It is also very clear that the bakery would have no problem selling anything off the shelf (or to special order – for example, a birthday cake) to the ‘gay’ person. There is no direct discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, and there are no grounds for direct discrimination on the grounds of marital status since gay marriage is not legal in Northern Ireland and the ECtHR has ruled it is not an intrinsic right.

There is no case of direct discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or marital status, but are there grounds for ruling there was indirect discrimination? Given the case is around the phrase “support gay marriage”, is that an intrinsically gay or straight thing to support? Well, no. Some gay people support gay marriage; some do not. Some straight people support gay marriage, some do not. There is nothing intrinsic to being gay that means you have to support the notion of gay marriage. And note, this is a subtly different argument to the indirect discrimination claims against the B&B who refused a bedroom to a civilly-partnered couple: in that case the issue was not a political statement but a legal state (Civil Partnership).

So, no grounds for direct discrimination and no grounds for indirect discrimination. But there is one more very good reason for the baker to refuse the work. The request to have a picture of Bert and Ernie is a clear copyright violation and the baker has every right to refuse to use it until the plaintiff could produce evidence that the image would be licensed correctly.

And that, folks, is the whole case dealt with. You can actually successfully defend against the discrimination claim without once mentioning the idea of the right to hold a religious belief (in this case, a traditional Christian position). That being the case, why is this issue being raised as a clash of cultures by the Christian Institute? It’s not a clash of cultures: it’s simply a wrong understanding of the law by the Equality Commission. Making it a ‘Religion-versus-Homosexuality’ debate undermines the actual legal issues involved and damages the real issues of religious rights and discrimination when they do occur (for example, the current British Red Cross case). Furthermore, by fighting this issue on the right to hold a view (the traditional Christian view) rather than fighting it on the right to reject providing a service for a political campaign (saying ‘no’ to a cake with a political slogan you don’t agree with), there is actually the danger that the bakers will lose. That kind of judgement would have real consequences for those men and women who are victimised in this country for their religious beliefs, and it would come about because of the Christian Institute putting slogans and PR above proper legal support.

  • John Holme

    Brilliant, has anyone conveyed this argument to the Christian Institute?

  • Phil R

    Peter

    A really well written piece

    I think everyone understand however, that this was not a political slogan.

    It was just another test case by a homosexual activist to try to shut down opposition to homosexuality from Christians using the law.

    Homosexuals are creating a climate of fear in that people worry about their livelihood whether it is as an employee, an employer or provider of services if they act on their conscience.

    It is not just homosexuality BTW. It will not be long before teachers have to promote all manner of non standard relationships in schools and doctors will have to perform terminations, whether it is the unborn, terminally ill, (or any other reason yet to be defined — we can think of a few) if the state wills it.

    Conscience will be a thing of the past. The majority will decide if your conscience is valid.

    • “Homosexuals are creating a climate of fear…”

      I think you need to narrow down the group of people you are accusing here.

      • Phil R

        Quite right

        Correction

        Militant Homosexuals (and others groups, who are using them, to attack Christianity) are deliberately creating a climate of fear to shut down debate.

        • Guglielmo Marinaro

          I think that you need to narrow it down even further to “SOME militant homosexuals etc. etc.”

          • To some people here, every gay person is a ‘militant homosexual’…..

          • Phil R

            I have only met 2 homosexuals

            Both lesbian man hating bitches

            One I had to work with.

            We had a party when she left

          • CliveM

            Apart from the lesbian on this site who is not a bitch, I know of two others. They aren’t man hating bitches either. In fact I like all three of them immensely and typically find what they say kind and interesting.

          • Phil R

            Glad to hear it.

            We must just have been unlucky

          • *shrug* I don’t care what you think or say about lesbians or gay men. I’m too busy getting on with life.

          • Phil R

            I’m sure you are a lovely person Hannah.

          • Hi Phil

            Dr Who is about to come on…. but yes I hope I’m a decent person all told (:

          • So Guglielmo, what do you make of it all.
            ‘Queer Street’ good; or ‘Queer Street’ bad?

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            Well, frankly I feel that any bakery should be as free to refuse to decorate a cake with a slogan that they strongly disapprove of as any bus company should be to decline to decorate its buses with a slogan implicitly advertising a useless “therapy” for a non-illness.

          • So its ‘Queer Street’ bad, than.

          • Phil R

            “Not gay! Ex-gay, post-gay and proud. Get over it!”

            Doesn’t happen then?

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            What doesn’t happen then?

          • Phil R

            “useless “therapy” for a non-illness”

            There are no ex gays then?

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            I won’t deny that there are untypical cases in which people’s sexuality – more often women’s than men’s – has changed from homosexual to heterosexual, and vice versa. The evidence that a change of this kind can be deliberately engineered is poor. I don’t for one moment dispute anyone’s right to change their sexual orientation if they don’t like it, but the right to do something is a fat lot of use if you can’t in fact do it. Adverts for “therapy” purporting to change sexual orientation are leading people up the garden path.

          • DanJ0

            They’re more than that, they’re immoral and exploitative.

          • Phil R

            “Adverts for “therapy” purporting to change sexual orientation are leading people up the garden path”

            Don’t agree, see myth 2 page 8

            http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF10F01.pdf

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            Don’t agree. See, for example, the statement of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, in which they say that, although sexual orientation may vary to some extent during a person’s life, “sexual orientation for most people seems to be set around a point that is largely heterosexual or homosexual” and that “There is no sound scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed.”

            http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/pdf/PS02_2014.pdf

            It has not been proved, of course, that “conversion therapy” NEVER works, nor do I see how it ever could be. I could say the same of Christian Science healing, psychic surgery, bee-sting therapy or any other variety of quackery that you care to think of, all of which are supported by “testimonies”, just as the “ex-gay” movement is. I would not on that account recommend anyone to waste their time on them.

          • Phil R

            SOME militant homosexuals are not helping your case for full acceptance if that is what you want.

            If the cake shop owners lose it will be two steps backwards

  • Linus

    It’s such fun watching rank amateurs with limited knowledge of the law and how it works play at being the big shot defense lawyer.

    If a statistics degree and a gut-full of anti-gay animus are all that’s needed to champion the Christian cause through the courts, one wonders why the Christian Institute isn’t knocking at your door and begging you to represent their protégés. But who knows, maybe it is.

    Let’s see what the decision is in this case and then we’ll know if your brilliant legal mind has done better than it did in predicting the outcome of some other famous legal test cases, like Bull and Bull v. Preddy and Hall, or Ladele v. London Borough of Islington.

    • Defence is spelt with a c.

      You’ve very clearly NOT read and appreciated what I wrote previously on the Bulls have you? If you want to attack people for positions they have argued, at least have the decency of not erecting straw men.

      Perhaps you might tell us where my argument is incorrect rather than just writing this bundle of emotion?

      • Longinus

        “Defence is spelt with a c”…..unless one is American and then it is spelt with an “s”.

        • Find an American blog, write defence in an American manner.

          • Hi Peter

            You are in a grumpy mood today (:

          • carl jacobs

            Peter

            But how will you know unless you first hear? And how will you hear unless someone tells you? We Americans are patiently exhorting you to find freedom in a more perfect language. The old is gone. The new has come.

          • CliveM

            Well I’m certainly not up voting that comment!!

            Return to the light!

          • carl jacobs

            The British are a stubborn and stiff-necked people.

          • CliveM

            It’s our best feature!

            Thank you!

          • His Grace’s blog is catholic, pan-continental, international and (after Dr Who’s soteriological revelation in St Paul’s) inter-galactic. We tolerate archaic spellings and etymological variations.

          • Linus

            Unless you’re going to block all non-UK IP addresses from posting on this site, you’re going to have to get used to the fact that more people spell defense with an s than with a c.

            But how silly of me – you won’t be blocking any IP addresses from this site, will you? It isn’t your blog. You’re just a guest.

            I wonder how your hosts feel about you issuing instructions and commands on their behalf. Their comment below certainly seems to indicate that American English is welcome here.

          • Little Black Censored

            “… more people spell defense with an s than with a c.
            I wonder if that’s true. How do Indians spell it, for instance?

    • dannybhoy

      That’s a rather angry and sarcastic comment there, Linus! Perhaps it would help more if you just explained your own understanding of the situation.

    • carl jacobs

      Linus subtlely presents himself as a Regulan Bloodworm lawyer but doesn’t actually offer anything but animus himself. This is an old trick. All you have to do is say “You’re an idiot!” with enough spite and confidence, and you can sound like an expert. Linus certainly can’t be a ‘rank amateur’ if he can recognize a rank amateur.

      So what is Linus’ actual standing to make such a comment? Inquiring minds want to know.

      • CliveM

        People have been asking for supporting comments all day.

        He came
        He saw
        He creeped away

        Let’s not hold our breath.

      • You’re an American, Carl. It appears Linus is too.
        Enough said?

        • carl jacobs

          Jack

          The fact that he used the proper spelling of ‘defense’ merely indicates he is well-educated. If Linus is a Denebian Slime Devil lawyer, then he will be well-educated.

          carl

      • Linus

        I’ve presented myself as nothing at all. My only comment was that Peter Ould is not a lawyer therefore his amateur legal prognostications should be taken with a very large grain of salt. Those whose job it is to understand and interpret the law will decide whether bakers have the right to deny service based on their sociopolitical views. Random Christian ex-bloggers will not.

        The copyright question is an interesting one though. If it’s illegal to slap a picture of Bert and Ernie on a cake without obtaining permission from the copyright holder, is it not also illegal to slap it on a blog post without permission? I see no copyright notice attached to the image above. Notice that I’m asking this as a question rather than proclaiming it as a fact. I have no expertise in copyright law and don’t know whether Bert and Ernie’s images are even subject to copyright. They could be in the public domain for all I know. But Mr Ould must surely know, unless of course he just purloined the image and posted it without checking first. But surely he wouldn’t do that … I mean, don’t random Christian ex-bloggers know EVERYTHING? Reading their posts certainly makes you come away with the idea that they think they do.

        • carl jacobs

          Hrmm. I am detecting just a little bit of animus directed towards Peter Ould here. You could have made that point without all the hyperbolic language. Anyhow. If you aren’t a lawyer then we can safely put you into the “I used a legitimate point of argument just so I could call Peter Ould an idiot blowhard who doesn’t know what he is talking about” category.

  • BOS77

    “The political discrimination laws in Northern Ireland exist to avoid people being prejudiced on the grounds of party or political affiliation.”
    It also applies to political opinions on the conduct of the government and matters of policy.

    • Yes, I think this is the one area where the court might disagree with me. But even if it does, that simply proves the issue is about political opinion, not sexual orientation.

      • BOS77

        I’d agree that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation would be hard to show. The political opinion argument is much stronger. The bakery themselves have been saying they didn’t complete the order because they didn’t agree with the requested message, so I’m not sure how they can turn around and say it was wasn’t discrimination on the basis of the customer’s political opinion.
        BTW, who chose the picture at the top? Because that could be a breach of copyright too 🙂

        • Martin

          The picture has been used on a number of occasions, by the BBC among others.

        • The picture is down to our esteemed editors!

          So I think you’re right that the cake was rejected because of the political opinion it proclaimed. The reason why the baker disagreed with the political opinion was to do with his religion, but people without a religion might also disagree with the statement and not want to produce it.

          So ultimately the whole issue is about whether a provider of a service can decline business if what he/she is being asked to do is something that they politically disagree with. I think that’s a separate “political discrimination” issue than simply declining to do business with someone because of their political views – the difference between not selling a cake to someone because they support gay marriage and not selling a cake because the cake has a pro gay marriage message on it.

      • Graham Wood

        Peter. Thanks for a thoughtful and logical argument presented, the thrust of which I fully agree with. But I’m not sure whether you are correctly interpreting both the Ashe’s case and the support of the CI.

        I agree that the primary objection to the plaintiffs is indeed political as expressed by the ideological/political slogan on the cake.

        As the CI comments: “Is the Equality Commission of NI seriously saying that all business owners have to be willing to promote every political cause or campaign, no matter how much they disagree with it? Does a printer have no right to refuse to print posters for the BNP or Islamic State?”
        The logic is there, and that is why this is an important test case.
        But is there not an equally important, although secondary line of defence which I think the judge in this case would need to take into account – namely the one which the bakery owners themselves claim is their chief objection on the grounds that the request clashes with their Christian beliefs?
        There is also another element to the discrimination charge. The bakers have not discriminated against the plaintiff’s sexual orientation, only against being compelled to publicise this particular slogan.
        Is there not a clear case justifying their stance on the grounds of the ECtHR clause (Article 9) which states “everyone has a right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion…. & etc?.
        I suggest the case is both “political” as you assert but that the CI is also right to defend them on both pleas.

        • I think my point is that the two issues are being conflated by the CI to be one and the same. They’re not, and it is perfectly possible for the Ashers to have turned down the request without ever having once referred to their Christian faith.

  • Derek Smith

    Loved the updated ‘Pat-a-Cake’ rhyme, Peter.

  • Martin

    Peter

    Of course the grounds on which the bakery said they would not provide the service would be taken as evidence of the discrimination. If they had said, “we don’t support that political view” it would be quite different from saying “we don’t approve of ‘gay’ marriage”

  • dannybhoy

    A great breakdown of the facts of this case by the Reverend Peter, but the reality is that the attack is directed against Christians perceived as being anti-homosexual. There was no need for this situation to escalate other than to target a Christian business run by a Presbyterian family who hold quietly and unassumingly to their beliefs

    I remember adding my email to the many others who supported this this family baker when the story first broke. The family really didn’t want to be a “cause celebre”, they just wanted to get on with running a very successful bakery.
    So whilst you have done an admirable job of analysing the case, the fact remains that it is Christianity which is the main focus.

    The LGBT activist groups like Stonewall continue to attack Christian institutions and businesses who take a stand not against homosexuals, but same sex marriage continue to attack and bully big business and politicians into supporting their objectives..

    http://www.christianvoice.org.uk/index.php/banks-condemn-stonewall-bigot-award/

    I would urge all Christians to prayerfully add their support by writing/e-mailing their MPs or the Government or the leaders of their particular denomination. We can certainly use the points made by the Reverend Peter, but let’s not lose sight of what is really going on.

    • Broadwood

      Completely agree, dannybhoy.
      It’s time for a show of support for the Ashe’s business, too, like the Chik-fil-a case in the States when the founder came out as a traditional marriage supporter and was the subject of a campaign of bullying from GLAAD and their supporters aimed at silencing their views and damaging their business.

      When Christians and other traditional marriage supporters mobilised to support the business with their custom, the tables were turned and the campaign against Chik-fil-a completely backfired.
      If you live in Northern Ireland, you know what to do!

      • dannybhoy

        The Chik-fil A case
        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-robison/attack-on-chick-fil-a_b_1708231.html
        shows that these attacks on Christianity are happening on both sides of the Atlantic, and are even more vicious and damaging.
        The attacks on America of course are concerted and aimed at destroying that great country from within..
        If America and its democratic and Christian values can be brought down, the rest of the free world is sure to follow.
        However there are signs that the Church in America is now waking up to the threat…
        http://www.thepoliticalinsider.com/phil-robertson-just-something-amazing-support-pastors/

        • Merchantman

          Which is one reason the liberals just fell on their face in the US mid terms. Right thinking people have had enough.

          • dannybhoy

            The liberals in your country were out to circumvent and eventually destroy your Constitution I think. We haven’t got that problem.. 😉

      • dannybhoy

        “If you live in Northern Ireland, you know what to do!”
        A most beautiful part of the United Kingdom…..

        • F.A.B – 1689

          I’d never heard of Asher’s until this case came up…Now if i have a choice, it’s Asher’s every time. I suspect the LGBT lobby will shortly be targeting main supermarkets to demand that they no longer stock this brand.

          • dannybhoy

            I know a great Chiropodists run by good Christian people in Bangor……. 😉

          • We know about the ‘Pink Pound’.

            Maybe its time Christians started to enquire about the beliefs of those they purchase services and good from.

          • Coniston

            I wonder if the LGBT lobby will ever target a Muslim baker. In practice the authorities would never bring a prosecution in such a case – they would be too scared.

  • Shadrach Fire

    In the world of commerce we all have a right to choose providers of services and goods. I might not go to this baker because they are Jewish whereas I would go to this baker because they are Baptist. Where’s the difference? Just as I have a right to choose whom I ask to supply, I have never understood the inequality that providers have no choice. If I wanted a nuclear reactor, there is probably little choice of who I could go to and I doubt if they would supply me anyway. But for everything else there is plenty of choice and if you can’t get what you want from one place, there are plenty other places. It’s about time we all grew up and stop being offended and buyers and sellers should all have the right of choice.

    • Owl

      Well said Shadrach,
      The Equality acts are Fabian in origin and this case is just another chip at the brickwork. Enough chips and the wall falls down. Fabianism in action.
      The “Equality” acts need removing. We had equality before them and less and less after them.
      Dannyboy has pointed out quite well how the militant ones are attacking our culture. Perhaps enough people are waking up to the fact that this is all planned.

    • Hi shadrach

      I think it’s worse than you know…. it’s the French we’re going to get our reactors from…. (:

  • Broadwood

    There’s also an excellent article about this case today in the Daily Mail, pointing out some more interesting details about the political background to this story. The writer is himself a gay man.

    • dannybhoy

      In the same article…
      “Another firm, in Armagh, run by Nick
      Williamson, a committed Christian, was similarly threatened with legal
      action by the commission after he turned down an order to produce a
      glossy gay magazine”

  • I wonder if the ECHR commission would be interested in tackling this case of “political discrimination” – an organisation whose booking was actually cancelled because of their views on same-sex marriage – or does the law get applied in one-direction?

    • ‘Diversity’ clearly doesn’t extend to those who hold Christian views.

  • “QueerSpace envisions a society free from prejudice, with equal respect given to peoples of different sexual orientations and genders.”

    Unless, that is, one doesn’t support the political aims of said organisation or holds religious views differing to theirs.

    “QueerSpace seeks to increase the visibility of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) Community in a positive manner to counteract the disregard and negative images presented to the general public over the past centuries.”

    Yep, this case will certainly raise the profile of this ‘Community’ in a positive way.

    Through their honesty, the Ashers have made this into a religious issue. Refusing to supply a cake bearing a political slogan is perfectly legal. Refusing to supply goods on religious grounds is not. Had they refused to bake the cake on political grounds, saying that the slogan requested is a political slogan and the ‘Queer Space’ logo is representative of a political pressure group, the matter would have gone away. They chose to speak out and have made it a religious issue.

    Happy Jack admires their honesty and conviction. Shame on Gareth Lee for his underhandedness and for placing them in this position; and shame on the NI Equalities Commission for being suckered in this manner.

  • Si_Hollett

    One problem with the article – does it actually matter whether or not Gay Marriage is legal in Northern Ireland? As was pointed out in the rest of the article, the refusal to bake the cake had nothing to do with the sexual orientation or marital status of the people ordering, but what what they ordered was promoting.

    Or is it the case that if gay marriage was legal, the baker wouldn’t be able to dissent from creating publicity for a movement with which the law agrees with? That would be very worrying indeed – to be able to dissent from promoting the Government’s view is surely something needed in a free society.

  • magnolia

    I do wonder where the copyright laws stand on all this. What right did they have to the Bert and Ernie pictures anyway? And I was unaware that Bert and Ernie were anything other than friends. It does feel like laying a slug slime trail over the memories of people’s innocent childhoods to ascribe lusts and outlying sexual attitudes to the purity of childhood, in fact it borders on pedophilia attitudinally, which cannot leave pre-sexual ways of seeing the world alone but wants to inject lust everywhere.

    Perhaps Bert and Ernie should sue for libel? 😉

    • Good point … why use innocent children’s cartoons to promote homosexuality?

      Mind, ‘Queer Street’ do have a child protection policy.

      “It is the policy of QueerSpace that under 18s are welcome to attend our meetings and events, but to safeguard both their, and Volunteers’, best interests and safety, under 18s must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.”

  • Hi Peter

    I’m not sure how refusing to bake a cake with a political statement on it can be turned into a discrimination case: it’d be like a Palestinian /islamic group trying to get a Jewish baker to write a “free Palestine” cake….. or what if it was an “I support IS” cake. These are political views as well, albeit on the other extreme to gay rights. But could a shop say no in these examples or would it be taken to court?

    • Well that’s the question to be tested in court isn’t it?

      • Hi Peter,

        I’m aware of that and I’d written the above to provide a different example for people of how the precedent may effect other scenarios.

        • Uncle Brian

          When they refused to make the cake the client was ordering, had they checked with a lawyer beforehand to find out whether they might be letting themselves in for trouble? If they failed to take that precaution, they acted injudiciously and it looks as though they walked into a trap with their eyes open.

          • Isn’t that one of the central issues? One has to be careful what one says and does these days around militant homosexualists looking to intimidate and feign offence. So they couldn’t get a cake baked. Big deal. Move on.

            Its a veritable ‘Reign of Terror’. Admittedly, that’s an exaggeration given what the Church went through in France. However, it is creeping intimidation. Try getting work in these public sector these days or applying to be a foster parent. Grants from the Lottery Fund are subject to presenting a ‘Diversity Policy’ too. Christianity, by definition, isn’t ‘diverse’ on certain issues.

            They’ll come a time when the public react against this nonsense and realise what’s afoot.

          • Uncle Brian

            The point I’m trying to make, Jack, is that they’re in a business and, like any business, they have certain obligations towards their consumers. How far is it wise to allow your personal convictions, however strongly held, to impinge on the way you run your business? For instance, in the runup to the Scottish referendum, would it have been legal for a firm of Glasgow printers to refuse to print leaflets for the “Yes” campaign on the grounds that they were themselves personally committed to the “No” campaign?

            Or even this: At White Hart Lane a year or so ago, Spurs lost 1-0 to Arsenal. If an Arsenal supporter had asked a baker’s shop in Willesden to bake a cake commemorating his team’s victory, could the bakers legally have refused to comply, on the grounds that they were Spurs supporters?

          • Brent R. Orrell

            When it comes to a claim of conscience, it doesn’t really matter whether someone else thinks the claim is valid or not, does it? That’s the whole point of religious liberty: non-adherents will always find a claim by a religious sect to be either un-compelling or absurd. That’s why it is called a “right”, it exists, or at least the claim to it exists, apart from whether it is widely shared or not. If the market punishes the baker or photographer or printer, that’s the cost of conscience but it has nothing to do with whether the state should compel the sale.

          • Uncle Brian

            I’m not quite sure what you mean by a “right” in this context. One party is asserting his “right” to have a cake baked to his specifications, and the other party is asserting his “right” to refuse the contract. How do we find out which “right” trumps the other? Apart from just waiting for a court of law to tell us the answer?

          • Brent R. Orrell

            Seems that there are two rights at stake here. One, religious liberty/conscience, ancient and deeply rooted in the Anglo-Saxon tradition that, if it is to be meaningful, requires a very wide birth. The second, a newly minted right for gay couples to override the conscience claims of the religious and force their participation in something some bakers and photographers find they cannot support. In the US, the 1st amendment to the Constitution enshrines religious liberty and sets a very high bar for a government override of religiously-based claim of conscience. Apparently, that is not the case in the UK. I will hasten to add, because such things are necessary in a public forum that I don’t agree that orthodox Christian religious belief requires the stance this family has taken only that it should be within their rights to take such a stance without being compelled against their conscience to do otherwise.

          • Brian … what Brent said.

          • Owl

            “creeping intimidation” ah, you mean “fabianesque”?

  • Busy Mum

    “And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no judgment.” Isaiah 59 vv 14&15

    “Let not them that are mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over me…..for they speak not peace: but they devise deceitful matters against them that are quiet in the land.” Psalm 35 vv 19&20

    “Vengeance is mine: I will repay, saith the Lord.” Romans 12 v 19

  • sarky

    So, a christian walks into a bakers and asks for a cake saying ‘yahweh is god, there is no other’, the baker doesnt agree and refuses, is that ok????

    If you offer a service to the public, unless it is illegal, that service should be offered to everyone regardless.
    everyone has to do things in their working life that they dont agree with, but you just get on with it.
    if they had just baked the cake, there would be no fuss and christians wouldnt look like prats again.

    • CliveM

      In answer to your first question, yes.

    • Actually, Jack understands that to refuse to provide a service on religious grounds is discrimination.

      And you think its the baker who looks a prat? Think again. If anything, ‘Queer Street’ are the fools. Malicious fools, at that. Why should this man compromise his beliefs and be party to promoting a political cause he objects to on moral grounds? He didn’t seek the publicity.

      • sarky

        Its just a cake!!!! He’s not being asked to put up posters in his windows!!!! People seeing the cakes probs wouldn’t even know where they came from. Just think its a big fuss about nothing, that could have easily been avoided.

        • Yes it is a big fuss but its about a point of principle. Do remember it was initiated by a homosexualist looking to browbeat a Christian baker and obtain compensation.

          • sarky

            No, it was about being treated equally!!!!

          • dannybhoy

            No,
            It was a baker being asked to make a cake bearing an inscription he was against on religious, and as the Rev’d Peter pointed out, legally spurious grounds.

          • IanCad

            Jack, I note with interest your use of the term “Homosexualist”.
            It is descriptive, inoffensive and accurate. Much better than the hijacked word “Gay”

          • Yes it is a sound word for a militant homosexual activist. Jack first saw it used by Archbishop Cranmer some years ago now. He does not know its origin.

          • IanCad

            Auberon Waugh, so I believe.

          • CliveM

            But who is making the fuss. It doesn’t seem to me to be the baker. He simply said no.

        • Brent R. Orrell

          Yes, it is just a cake, just a wedding photo, just a whatever. Any particular service can look trivial and most of them are. What isn’t trivial is the claim to conscience. In the US, the non-religious routinely complain about public prayers (at youth sporting events, etc.) to which the theists say, “Why are you making such a big deal out of this?” Triviality is in the eye of the beholder; those who have a vested interest in overriding the claim of conscience should not also be the ones who get to decide whether the claim is valid. Rather a conflict of interest, isn’t it?

    • dannybhoy

      But at least prats with principles, Sarky.

    • carl jacobs

      sarky

      A better comparison on your part would be a man ordering a cake with a Hakenkreuz for Hitler’s birthday from a Jewish Baker. Do you think there would be outcry if the Baker refused? Everything is totally legal after all. It’s just a business transaction. Your case amounts to “He should do it because I sympathize with message on the cake.”

      carl

      • sarky

        Not really carl, because I cant think of anyone who would think thats ok (far too extreme an example) however, society as a whole has accepted gay marriage and this whole thing is about acceptance not hate.

        • Society “as a whole”? Strange concept and somewhat totalitarian. Homosexual marriage is not law in NI.

          Abortion is legal and widely accepted. Should a Christian be obliged by law to make a cake commemorating the 1967 Abortion Act?

        • carl jacobs

          sarky

          You realize, don’t you, that as soon as you tried to differentiate political messages on the basis of ‘extremism’ you conceded the whole of argument.

          • sarky

            I’ll give you that one!!!!

        • Northern Ireland very clearly hasn’t accepted gay marriage.

    • DanJ0

      As I see it, the bakers are nominally offering a service to everyone. They just won’t do certain things, irrespective of who is asking. That seems fair enough to me.

      • Uncle Brian

        Your argument makes sense to me, DanJo. But will it make sense to a judge?

        • DanJ0

          I think it would in England, as it goes. By the way, I got roasted on Facebook by a whole bunch of random lefties for defending the bakery’s position recently.

          • Uncle Brian

            Good for you, DanJo. I’ve never used Facebook, nor even Twitter. My pre-modern mobile wouldn’t be able to handle them anyway. Am I missing anything?

          • DanJ0

            Oh yes. Clips of costumed cats sitting on roombas, kids in a minion costumes for Halloween falling over. Worth signing up for on their own.

            Also available on YouTube

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLt5rBfNucc

            and

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0efg6w-X5ow

          • Uncle Brian

            Costumed cats … That lets me off the hook, then. We can’t have cats in our house. The dogs would never allow it.
            Regards
            Brian

          • Uncle Brian

            Thank you for the videos, by the way. I thought the first one compared quite favourably with some of the wildlife programmes they show on television, and the second one was at least as good as Kubrick’s 2001. Shorter, too, which was an improvement.

    • I guess if the only principle you have in running your business is “let’s make money no matter what” then adhering to any other principles is to appear “a prat”. Thankfully some of us like to conduct our business (and lives) with a little more integrity than that.

      Presumably you’d call the man a hypocrite if he condemned SSM but was happy to make money from advocating them?

  • Hands up anyone who would actually eat a cake baked under duress.

    • Busy Mum

      I presume you don’t want any up-arrows for this one Happy Jack!

      • Lol …. Good point.
        (Edited and amended)

        • Busy Mum

          I wouldn’t want to…. but what if I had to eat it under duress??

    • dannybhoy

      Turn off bright light,
      eat the cake,
      refuse to answer questions.

    • Uncle Brian

      Repeating my answer to another comment of yours: They weren’t going to eat the cake anyway. The aim was just to get the bakers to put the gay marriage wording on it. It’s not about food, it’s about politics.

  • Philip___

    I can understand the way to fight the case is a wrong understanding of discrimination law by the Equality Commission (as the bakers wouldn’t have baked the cake if a Christian of ‘straight’ person had requested it, and so on…) No doubt the CI will use all those facts of law in supporting the bakers’ case.

    But as I understand, the CI is not only concerned with fighting legal cases, but also the strategic implications of such cases and their outcomes for freedom to live in obedience to God and to preach the gospel, whatever the technical legal arguments in the case are.

    The fact that it is a Christian bakery that was, I’ll use the word “approached”, and if the bakers lose, but then a printer would still not be breaching the law if he refused to print a BNP or Islamic State poster, it is clearly a case of freedom of religion and conscience being denied only to Christians. And if it’s only denied to Christians when the issue is something to do with homosexuality, then it’s clear the State upholds the right of homosexuals to force their opinions on others who profoundly disagree, and trample on freedom of religion and conscience of Christians. The CI is right to view it as a religious freedom case.

    • dannybhoy

      “But as I understand, the CI is not only concerned with fighting legal
      cases, but also the strategic implications of such cases and their
      outcomes for freedom to live in obedience to God and to preach the
      gospel, whatever the technical legal arguments in the case are.”
      Good sentence.

  • carl jacobs

    You know. They might be able to coerce the Baker into making the cake. But they can’t compel him to make it well.

    • Brent R. Orrell

      Imagine the outrage if he served up a soggy mess in protest.

      • carl jacobs

        One can be more subtle than that. But it certainly is an appropriate response to being used as a foil in order to establish a point of case law.

        • That would be dishonest. If you take the fee – you make the cake to the best of your ability.

          We Brits don’t go in for covert operations.

          • CliveM

            We invented covert operations!

          • Ssssshhhh ……….

            Covert operations ….. (looks over shoulder) …. who mentioned that?

          • CliveM

            Whatever you do, don’t sleep soundly…..,

          • carl jacobs

            Jack

            There’s only dishonesty involved if you refuse to give his money back when he comes in to complain. Or perhaps you wouldn’t even charge him in the first place. For a one-off cake like this, I probably wouldn’t. Anyways. Anyone could forget to add sugar to a cake. Purely an accident, you see.

            I would look for market solutions in the long run. Like a price premium for ‘political’ cakes.

            carl

          • No Carl, its dishonest if you take the order intending not to fulfil it satisfactorily.

            The market option is a possibility, however. A £50k premium for all political cakes would be within the law provided it applied universally.

          • carl jacobs

            Jack

            Who said anything goes about “intending not to fulfil it satisfactorily.” It was just that I forgot the sugar, that’s all.

            And anyways. You get what you pay for.

          • “People are getting smarter nowadays; they are letting lawyers, instead of their conscience, be their guide.”
            (Will Rogers)

          • carl jacobs

            My conscience is not crushed over this, Jack. And where have I engaged the Office of Weasel, Vulture, Rodent, and Slugg, Attorneys at Law?

          • Don’t go all Jesuitical on Jack, Carl.

            From the start – “One can be more subtle than that …” – you’ve advocated underhandedness. Then, an even more subtle tactic. Use the market. For a straight-talking, Calvinist Yank, you sure play a mean sly hand.
            Do you play either poker of chess, per chance?

          • Uncle Brian

            They weren’t going to eat the cake anyway. The aim was just to get the bakers to put the gay marriage wording on it. It’s not about food, it’s about politics.

      • Uncle Brian

        “Sorry sir, the cat got into the kitchen during the night and had kittens right on top of your lovely cake. Here’s your money back. So sorry to disappoint you.”
        That’s the kind of thing I meant by a “nuanced response” in my comment addressed to carl jacobs. But the bakers rejected that option. They went for the confrontation, like nineteen-fifties civil rights activists sitting in the “wrong” part of the bus.

        • Brent R. Orrell

          I don’t know the facts of the case and it is possible that the bakers went out of their way to confront the gay couple. It sounds a bit far-fetched to me and is probably the other way around: they were targeted for a request they knew would probably be rejected as “an example to the others.”

    • Uncle Brian

      But the baker didn’t go for the nuanced response. He went for a straight confrontation.

  • Mark

    I’d have thought that the representations of Bert and Ernie would be copyright of Sesame Street, and the baker would be legally required not to produce such a decoration unless the customer could offer a written authorisation to do so.

  • DanJ0

    Article: “The Christian Institute have stepped in to support Ashers and are pitching the legal battle as a cultural issue between Christian and Gay Rights.”

    Oh no, the kiss of death for their case if the past is anything to go by!

  • Paul Newton

    What about the discrimination towards the baker?

    It seems clear to me, from the way Queerspace have behaved, that they deliberately selected this baker BECAUSE he was a Christian. There were other bakers they could have used; possibly some were gay or gay supporters. But they picked this one, and would not go to another baker more sympathetic to their views.

    This suggests to me that the intention was not to get a cake with a slogan, but to entrap a business because of their religious belief. That is discrimination.

  • DanJ0

    Article: “Was the plaintiff discriminated against because he was gay? No: it is more than likely that a ‘straight’ person ordering the same cake would have been refused. It is also very clear that the bakery would have no problem selling anything off the shelf (or to special order – for example, a birthday cake) to the ‘gay’ person.”

    This.

  • Paddy S

    This case goes to the heart of why I cannot support gay marriage. As an Irish citizen and a fan of Cranmer’s and the Heralds blogs, I will be voting no to such gay marriage in an Irish referendum on this issue next year. I think religious freedom will inevitably be threatened by such a move, their will be an attempt by minority of gay activists and lefty groups to use equality laws if passed to go after religious ethos, schools, businesses etc in a manner unseen of since the Reformation – all it takes is time.

    • Politically__Incorrect

      “…their will be an attempt by minority of gay activists and lefty groups to use equality laws if passed to go after religious ethos..” Correct. That is exactly what is happening here. It’s like when you download a computer program off the internet, only to find you have inadvertantly installed a load of malicious crap too – including so-called “back-door” programs (ahem). The government was warned about this but chose to ignore those warnings. Now we see the LGBT community running amock using the legal system and the “equality” laws to throw their weight around.

  • The Inspector General

    I say, damn good show Ould ! You are a master at this game, Sir…

    One of the REAL rights that any man has is ‘Je refuse’. To wit, I want nothing to do with it. Go somewhere else.

    No man can be forced to do what he does not want to do. If he is a free man, that is. There are FEW exceptions, so few that they can be listed, but not right now, eh ?

    Now, let us without further kerfuffle find us an underworked MP to sponsor this right through the house. Before we’re all served up with gay cake, which one has always found rather too runny for his palate…

  • The Inspector General

    By the way, if there’s one thing worse than gay cake, it’s an anal muffin…

    {AHEM}

    • carl jacobs

      Didya have to? You could have just said “No.” Some of us are eating lunch, here.

  • Peter has it right, on the whole. If the accusation is discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, the defence is ‘there was no discrimination’. By instead pleading religious freedom, the accused are – from the law’s point of view – stating that religious freedom rumps sexual anarchy. The law disagrees.

    First rule of legal involvement: shut up until somebody tells you what you have apparently done wrong. Anything else is a rope to fashion your own noose.

  • ‘I believe we should be more confident about our status as a Christian country and, frankly, more evangelical about a faith that compels us to get out there and make a difference to people’s lives.”
    (David Cameron: Church Times; April 2014)

    Cameron was asked at Prime Minister’s Questions if he believed the legal action against the bakery was “an oppressive threat to religious freedom” warranting a conscience clause. He said:

    ‘I was not aware of the specific case, and I will of course go away and have a look at it. However, I think that a commitment to equality—whether we are talking about racial equality, equality between those of different sexes, equality in terms of people who have disabilities, or, indeed, tolerance of and equality for people with different sexualities—is a very important part of being British.”

    And being a Christian, Mr Cameron? You know, getting out there and making a difference, Mr Cameron?

    • dannybhoy

      “That’s very important too, Mr Jack.”
      As is doing the right thing,
      looking prime ministerial and
      promoting gay marriage
      because Sammy said it was the right thing to do…

  • The Inspector General

    …and this is my garden, and you shall dwell in it forever. But one thing you must not do. You must not eat of the gay cake. That I command of you. And Adam said, where is this gay cake, and God said, fifty yards that direction, you’ll find napkins and paper plates there too. And Adam said Lord, if I was to have so much as a crumb, and God said, then I shall curse humanity with aggressive campaigning gay men. By the way, tea making facilities nearby…

    • The Inspector General

      …Adam arrived at the cake stand to find – no cake. Eve was there, and said “What do you want”, and Adam replied “You haven’t seen a cake have you” and Eve said “look, someone was silly enough to leave a cake around with me in the area. So what”. And Adam said “all of it ?”. “Yup”. “We’re cursed now. I didn’t stand a chance with you for a wife, did I” “This curse you mentioned, it wasn’t obesity was it. I seem to be obese…”

      • dannybhoy

        Does my bum look big in these skins??

        • The kilt doesn’t help.

        • CliveM

          Yes Dannybhoy it probably does!

    • dannybhoy

      Very, very funny.
      Gold star for you!

  • William Lewis

    Poor old Bert and Ernie are just being used as puppets in all of this. One thing we do know is that they certainly wouldn’t have kicked up a stink at any B&B, as they sleep in separate beds anyway.

  • Rasher Bacon

    Peter

    Great if you have it all sewn up so simply, but I get the feeling that reducing it to opposition to a political slogan won’t work. It’s the Equality Commission’s involvement that matters – their version of ‘equality’ and a blanket commitment to it across parties affects interpretation of the facts.

    My MP said in 2012:

    “You will be reassured to know that in a conversation with Trevor Philips, the Chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, he confirmed that his organisation would see no merit in pursuing a case against any faith groups when the legislation clearly refers to same-sex civil marriage” (emphasis his).

    The legislation in England & Wales changed in the end to include all forms of marriage, leaving the shambolic quad lock special legal ghetto for the C of E, and the rest of us have to take our chances hoping Trevor never knocks on our bigoted doors.

    I know the NI situation is different now legally, but I think that may change, maybe even while this case goes through, as ‘justice’ and ‘equality’ are given new meanings and acquire new reach. SSM has become part of the one-sided Equality canon, and this is an outreach attempt to the last backward part of the British Isles, invoking the as yet unsullied name of a body so far identified with the just war on racism.

    The question is really whether the Equality Commission(s) are governed by law, or if they find laws unequal, they change or reinterpret them. The argument about their remit, competence and philosophy has to be had now.

    Sorry – wrote this on the commute in and haven’t yet had a minute to look at this thread today – may have been said already

    • The Inspector General

      Wouldn’t say the quadruple lock is shambolic. Rather think our glorious head of state may have had influence there; though of course, the palace would neither confirm nor deny. No, we should take heart that locks there be, and having been established, must be expanded. We cannot go on like we are with continual homosexual privileges being demanded in whim style…

  • There are plenty of bakers, why was this one especially chosen and not
    another one to make the gay cake advocating the support of gay
    ‘marriage’? And why the public fuss when they were told that the order
    could not be fulfilled? Why didn’t they just go to Greggs? Or why
    didn’t they choose an Islamic bakers? I can’t help but think the
    intent was to bully and make trouble for Christians.

  • Cake maker, Cake maker,
    Bake me a cake,
    Or pay me a fine,
    Coz I’m just a fake.

    Cake maker, Cake maker,
    Bake me a Cake,
    Never mind your Book,
    You’re on my little gay hook.

    I WANT IT NOW !

  • len

    When does one cake trump another cake ?.
    If I wanted(I don`t but suppose I did ) a cake emblazoned with’ Don`t support Gay marriage’ would I be able to take anyone to court who wouldn`t bake it and decorate it for me?.
    It seems some cakes have more rights than other cakes.
    One could get totally mortified by having ones cake rejected.

    • Shadrach Fire

      On the button Len.

  • Politically__Incorrect

    Very good analysis of the legal position, Peter. I hope the CI will concentrate on winning the case, rather than using the case to make broad statements. The cultural conflict does exist of course, and this sad case is just one example of it. We know that many in the LGBT community like to propogate a culture of victimhood and jump at any opportunity to attack any religious group that opposes gay marriage, unless they are muslim of course. That wolud take a bit too much courage on their part.

  • Uncle Brian

    There’s a glaring omission from this comments thread. Where is Mrs Proudie of Barchester? She can’t be busy baking hobnobs for Mr Slope, can she? And if so, has he demanded a campaign slogan in pink icing?

    • Politically__Incorrect

      I just hope she is not cooking fairy cakes.

  • Phil R

    The third paragraph is worth reading. from below. I think the backlash has already begun and the public have had enough already.

    “As a gay man in a civil partnership, I was often heckled and abused for opposing gay same-sex marriage.

    I regard the law as a cynical political stunt by David Cameron in his
    misguided attempts to detoxify the Conservative brand and win new
    voters. He failed miserably – alienating countless core loyalists.

    At the time the Bill was being debated in the Commons, I argued it could
    trigger a backlash against gay men and women if it was used to
    discriminate against those with strong views about why same-sex
    marriages are wrong.

    The public was given repeated assurances that freedom of conscience would
    be respected if the law on marriage was changed. Those promises seem
    pretty hollow now.”

    Andrew Pierce

    Read here

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2824510/The-real-victims-bigotry-family-bakers-dragged-court-opponents-gay-marriage-persecuted-Tories-vowed-protect-them.html#ixzz3IPj5f9QN

  • The Inspector General

    On the subject of backlash…
    Anybody fancy founding an HIV appreciation society…

    • sarky

      Idiot!!!!

      • The Inspector General

        Where’s the sarcasm in your reply ? For a sarcasm lesson, which you need, study the post this man lodged to which you replied.

        • sarky

          Thats not sarcastic, thats just offensive!!!

          • The Inspector General

            Thank you. It’s good to be appreciated.

          • sarky

            Believe me, your not!!!!!!

    • Politically__Incorrect

      Don’t worry everyone. The inspector made a typo. That should read an “HGV Appreciation spciety”

  • Peter Lynas

    Yes and no- as a former barrister from NI I respectfully beg to differ a little.
    The discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation case is weak. The Commission started with this and I suspect they have been advised this won’t succeed. Ashers discriminated against an idea not a person- they didn’t know their sexual orientation.
    The Commission have added political opinion and religion not CI, so the attack on them seems unfair. These grounds are particular to NI. Peter is right to point to the commission’s own guidance on this area. But the original intention of the law does not always determine how the courts interpret it. The relevant Regulation is pretty wide.
    On religion, the Commission have added this because the McArthurs who own Ashers declined the order based on their beliefs. The case has nothing to do with the religion of the customer- we don’t know anything about that, not did Ashers. That should be the end of the matter but a QC in NI has written an opinion for the Commission suggesting otherwise because the relevant Regulation is again pretty wide.
    I have blogged on all this here http://publictheology.net/2014/11/06/more-cake/
    It is not about a ‘gay cake’ and has very little to do with sexuality or gay rights, but it is about fundamental political and religious freedoms. It is not homosexuality versus religion but it is a very important and often misunderstood case.

    • It is homosexuality/the State versus religion/natural law. The human body is the battlefield (in this case, our ability to marry).

    • The Inspector General

      A good post, sir.

    • Jack quoted this below tongue in cheek. He now says it and means it:

      “People are getting smarter nowadays; they are letting lawyers, instead of their conscience, be their guide.”
      (Will Rogers)

      And the article on your blog is most excellent.

    • Uncle Brian

      Peter, a technical question: In the event that the court should find in favour of the plaintiffs, the gay rights campaigners, what kind of penalty might the bakers incur? If the campaigners are as vindictive as they seem to be, from their initial course of action, they might well be tempted to keep coming back for more and more, upping the stakes each time – that is, instead of just a political slogan calling for a change in the law, they might devise more and more explicit or offensive wording in the future. The bakers must be asking themselves what they’ve let themselves in for. Is there anything the court could do to avert this kind of vindictive action?
      Thanks
      Brian

      • Peter Lynas

        The Equality Commission have indicated the damages would be small. I have no evidence as to the vindictiveness of the campaigner but I guess if Ashers were to lose they would have to change their Poicy or their business. Given our first minister has just called the case ‘bonkers’ and told the Commission to ‘wind their neck in’, of Ashers lose a change in the law is a possibility.

        • Uncle Brian

          Thank you, Peter. The prospect that it could bring a change in the law is a favourable sign. But if the Ashers have been forced out of business in the meantime, it’ll be too late for them.
          Thanks
          Brian

      • DanJ0

        That ought to count as vexatious litigation as far as the courts are concerned but if the case has some merit each time then perhaps not.

  • carl jacobs

    To be honest, I don’t see an ethical dilemma in baking a cake. The act of baking a cake does not thereby make one morally complicit in the use of the cake. This seems to me much more an offense against pride than against Christian morality. Someone would have to make a case to me that baking a cake is somehow equivalent to worshipping the Golden Idol. I can see how someone would not want to participate, and I think proprietors should have broad discretion in the work they accept. But I don’t see how making a cake would involve one in moral compromise.

    But…

    This isn’t about baking a cake. This is about coercing another man’s behavior for the sole purpose of establishing that you can. This is about an activist saying “You’re going to kiss my ass and you are going to like it. And if you don’t kiss my ass, I will drag you into court and have a judge MAKE you kiss my ass.” This is vindictive. For myself, I would not be a willing pawn sacrifice in someone else’s gambit. I would give him what he asked for. Exactly what he asked for. And nothing more.

    • Not so sure, Carl. Jack sees your points and yet is uncertain about both.

      On the first one, making a cake with a message on it that promotes an idea in direct contradiction to your faith, is surely collusion with what you regard as wicked? It’s not just a cake for an event. It is a political statement you’re being asked to produce. A statement you believe is supporting a grave moral evil.

      And on the second, should you opt to resist, if this is what your conscience dictates, and you do lose, you would not be obliged to kiss anyone’s arse. You could opt for accepting the consequences of not doing so. Refuse to apologise; refuse to pay any fine imposed.

      You are right, this whole thing is about bullying, vindictiveness and humiliation. We have to take these individual stands and resist. Jack would hope he’d have the courage to politely tell the ‘customer’ to “take a walk” and suffer the consequences.

      (And its behaviour)

    • Uncle Brian

      I agree, Carl. Of course you and I, and the others commenting on this thread, have had several hours, at least, to think about what we’d do if it happened to us. But perhaps the Ashers had to make their minds up on the spur of the moment. Did a gay rights campaigner just walk in through the door one day and pull out a picture of the cake decoration he wanted? They wouldn’t have had time to phone their lawyer, or even to think about the alternatives.
      One thing I might have done, in their place, to salve my conscience would be to donate the money to a good cause — say Canon Andrew White, the “Vicar of Baghdad” — along the lines of the Temple authorities buying the Potter’s Field rather than just putting Judas’s money back in the cash register.

      • Malcolm Smith

        I disagree. If it is OK for a baker to bake a political statement on a cake, even though he doesn’t like it, then it is OK for a printer to print a flyer for a party he doesn’t like. At some point you are going to have to say: I am not going to provide a platform for the opposition, and the opposition has no right to insist I do so.

        • Merchantman

          Carl complains about the arbitrariness of what offends. It clearly comes back to the issue of freedom of discretional conscience. If I was a German in 1939 I would probably have joined the Wehrmacht but definitely refused to join the SS.
          There is also the point of refusing to obey (unethical) orders.

    • Phil R

      ” I would give him what he asked for. Exactly what he asked for. And nothing more.”

      Off you go then….

      Go and worship Caesar Carl.

      You say there is a difference? Well I bet there was a Carl saying in the church in Roman times saying that we don’t need to make an issue of being compelled to worship Caesar, because we all know that Caesar is just a man and not the real God.

      Did they listen to Carl then? History records that they did not. What would have happened if they had of gone along anyway to the Caesar worship night as the Gov told them?

      There were also quite a lot of Carl’s in the Lutheran Church in the 1930s

      It is all about loving God Carl

      • carl jacobs

        Phil R

        Then answer my question. How can I be morally compromised by making this particular cake but not other cakes? I am not making the argument that he should have made the cake. I am asking for a consistent basis for refusing to make the cake on grounds of religious conscience. You cannot arbitrarily select circumstances to fit your predilection. If you say that making that cake would compromise you by forcing you to participate in gay marriage, then you have to explain why making a cake for a Bar Mitzvah would not compromise you through participation in a false religion.

        If I thought there was some aspect of rendering false worship to Caesar then I would be making a different argument. But I think too often we hide refusing to doing things we don’t want to do behind religious conscience. You can spot those instances by inconsistent application. I see inconsistency here. It is telling to me that no one has touched it.

        The argument of the Baker should be “I don’t want to do that because I don’t like the message.” That is his actual position. The message offends him, and that offense is rooted in his religion. I agree 100%. But every occurrence of offense is not grounds for a claim of coercion. And quite frankly there seems to be a lot of arbitrariness in deciding which non-Christian messages offend.

        • Phil R

          “I don’t want to do that because I don’t like the message.”

          It is not about the message particularly or the cake. To me it is about coercion by the State. The thin end of the wedge if you like. Granted to you it is not an issue and to many it might be ridiculous.

          Pastor Niemoller comes to mind.

          I see it as” a “first they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist”, moment for Christians.

          OK say we don’t support them because we think that it is a trivial matter and we don’t bake cakes.

          Niemoller didn’t make a fuss either when they came for the Socialists

    • CliveM

      Carl

      Thanks for the alternative perspective. It’s good to be challenged and made to consider whether the knee jerk reaction is the right one.

      On balance I still think the Baker should have the right to refuse, but it is difficult in business to pick and choose what you will do and won’t do. Particularly if your an employee.

    • DanJ0

      The first paragraph is essentially the philosophical argument against the actions of the Bulls at Chymorvah Private Hotel.

  • carl jacobs

    BTW. Just because I wonder about such things. Suppose a Christian baker refused to make a cake for a Bar Mitzvah on religious grounds. How would this thread play out differently? If baking a cake makes one morally complicit, then by baking a cake for a Bar Mitzvah the Baker has become complicit in false religion. This would be different…. how exactly?

    Because I cannot believe that anyone here would actually support a Baker in such a decision.

    • You, as the cake maker, should be able to make up your own mind on this. Isn’t that the point?

      • carl jacobs

        Can he or can he not legitimately claim religious conscience as a reason for his refusal? If he can, then explain the inconsistency with the Bar Mitzvah cake. You can’t have it both ways.

        • sarky

          Carl, this is the point I was trying to make, but you did it so much more eloquently!!

          There was a case in the uk fairly recently were a muslim cashier refused to serve a customer alcohol and pork. There was a massive outcry and the store was forced to issue an apology and the member of staff was ‘moved’.
          I can’t really see any difference in the cases. But if this was the case we were discussing I am sure the commemts would be very different.

          • James60498 .

            Totally different.

            The store was not forced by the government or the courts to issue the apology and to move the worker, but by the force of public opinion and by the threat of damage to business. If they had made the decision to allow all Muslim staff an exemption from selling such goods then the danger to them was loss of business.

            In the case of the cake shop they are clearly prepared to take the risk of losing business from those that don’t like their decision, and because they haven’t backed down are being threatened with the law.

            If you want to compare Muslims and alcohol etc., then the comparison would be that I could demand that a Muslim meat shop sold me pork or a Muslim drink shop sold me whisky. And if they didn’t then the government backs me and takes them to court. Highly likely!!

          • CliveM

            Or a Muslim restaurant be forced to sell non Halal meat with their dishes.

          • sarky

            Sorry, but a stupid comparison. None of the above would have advertised that service. However, I am pretty sure a cake shop advertises making cakes. If someone is expecting an advertised service and is refused for what they percieve as a prejudiced reason, then they have a right to complain. I am pretty sure the shop wouldnt refuse to do a ‘black history week’ cake or a ‘disability awareness’ cake.

          • DanJ0

            Perhaps the employee should have the right to force his employer to allow him to continue as a checkout operator but refuse to scan or touch certain goods because of a personal religious objection? Does a personal religious objection put a duty on the rest of us to make allowances for it whether or not we think it is valid? Or is it enough that the conscientious objector has the freedom to walk away from situations where he objects even at some cost to himself?

          • sarky

            Yes, if your beliefs are in conflict with your employment you should walk away. Otherwise where does it end?? You will have people refusing to do things for all sorts of spurious reasons and civilisation as we know it will end!!! Well maybe not, but the next step will be employers asking you to state your religion on applications and your answer to this affecting your prospects.

          • DanJ0

            Of course, we make explicit exceptions for doctors/surgeons over abortion because we’d rather not lose their skills and knowledge by forcing them into a conscientious objection situation where they would have to walk away from the profession completely. Luckily, it’s the nature of the profession that people have specialisms anyway so it’s not that onerous to make the exception.

          • Albert

            because we’d rather not lose their skills and knowledge by forcing them into a conscientious objection situation where they would have to walk away from the profession completely

            There was I thinking it was because we respected other people’s consciences.

          • DanJ0

            The issue of Sikh turbans in regard to health and safety law is another example. We make exceptions because not to do so would limit a whole group of society from participating in certain types of jobs and from using certain types of transport. The cost and benefits of not making exceptions is outweighed by the cost and benefits of making exceptions, and health and safety law is an area where one can reasonably make exceptions.

          • CliveM

            I agree with Albert. I don’t think these exceptions are simply about utility.

          • DanJ0

            I never said they were. It’s implicit in the context in this sub-thread that we treat conscience differently to mere opinion. I thought that was obvious, but hey.

          • CliveM

            DanJo

            I was referring to your comment regarding allowing Doctors their conscience because WE DONT WANT TO LOSE THEIR SKILL OR KNOWLEDGE.

            I was simply saying that I think that society was being more generous then that and understood the sensitivity over abortion allowed people their conscience.

            I may have mis understood, my point was case specific and not general,

          • DanJ0

            Doctors could always walk away from their jobs and keep their consciences clear even if there were no exceptions allowed. They’re not compelled by force to perform abortions. We’ve made explicit exceptions so that people can continue to be doctors, and choose to be doctors in future, knowing that they won’t need to walk away. That’s a clear recognition of the importance of conscience to people.

          • DanJ0

            That’s the starting position, for sure. People should always have that option It’d be wrong to coerce people into going against their own conscience without that option.

        • That should be a matter for you, whether your conscience is properly or improperly formed.

          If you believe Judaism is false religion with participation in its ceremonies and rituals offensive to God, then you should not be compelled to bake a cake for such a purpose. On the other hand, if you believe inter-faith dialogue and good relations with other religions is something God wants, then go-ahead and make the cake through good will and tolerance. However, if the requested cake had a slogan on it openly offensive to Christ and His Divinity, then whatever one’s position on inter-faith dialogue, a Christian would surely consider himself obliged to refuse?

          These bakers consider homosexuality to be a practice which gravely offends God. They took the view it would be wrong to collaborate in promoting the practice politically as ‘normal’ and ‘acceptable’ by being a party to sloganeering. If the state does not allow them this right then better to suffer the consequences than to do something against one’s conscience.

          • carl jacobs

            Jack

            So your argument is “Whatever I say is what my conscience impels me to do. It doesn’t have to be consistent. My uniqueness resolves the inconsistency. You Mr Judge are bound to respect my position.”

            Good Luck with that.

          • Jack didn’t say it would be successful in Court, or even that it should be in the interests of the wider common good. Anarchy would break loose. Staying true to one’s conscience is really about all we’ve got and the state should interfere as little. Persuade Jack he’s wrong; give him another perspective; show him the flaw in his thinking.

            Didn’t Aquinas argue that following one’s conscience is a moral imperative – even if it was misinformed or improperly formed? What else is there?

    • Merchantman

      In the early church Christians died when Caesar worship encroached on their belief. They were put into the ultimately impossible position of denying their beliefs.
      Until relatively recently the law and its application in this country was by and large tilted towards Judeo- Christian concepts.
      Now the law has adopted an extreme ‘neutral’ humanistic all people are equal’ stance.
      Jesus position in relation to this is what should exercise us. Didn’t Paul have something to say about eating food for sacrifice? Do you suppose Paul would have made a tent bearing a message inscribed with gay propaganda or Joseph made an altar for a pagan ceremony.
      This isn’t just about refusing to eat non-Kosher food if you are Jewish, its about actively forcing particularly Christians to have their nose rubbed in it.
      Stand up and be counted and go to jail.

    • SamHamilton

      There’s a difference in supporting the baker’s decision and supporting the baker’s right to make that decision.

  • carl jacobs

    Examples keep occurring to me. A Protestant could theoretically refuse to make a First Communion Cake because he rejects the Doctrine of the Mass. A Catholic could refuse to sell a cake to a couple because he knows both have prior divorces. Or how about that Baptismal cake for the parents who have never darkened a church before and never will again? How many here will rush to the defense of these decisions on the simple basis of religious conscience? Have I really legitimized the Mass by writing “Happy First Communion, Sarah” on a cake?

    Let’s be honest, shall we? We are angry that this has been shoved down our collective throats. We are frustrated that we can’t do anything about it. We are reacting to it by saying “I won’t have anything to do with it. I will isolate myself from it and pretend it didn’t happen.” That’s a perfectly normal and perhaps legal response. It certainly seems reasonable to me that a proprietor should be able to run his business in that way if he so chooses. But it does not form the basis for a claim of religious coercion.

    • Phil R

      Carl

      You miss the point this is not about cakes

      We are discussing here is effectively the very essence of freedom

      Sp you are telling me that a doctor should be forced to perform an abortion? A teacher should be forced to make little girls play out being a lesbian family?

      When this baker is squashed let us bet on what the next thing will be.

      We could make a list, it would not be a nice list to read and it would be a long one.

      • James60498 .

        A church should be forced to perform “gay marriages”? Is the obvious next one on your list.

        Unfortunately the list of what is already being required is lengthening. Whilst some major national organisations, without even asking their members, cancelled bookings from the Coalition for Marriage who had arranged to hold meetings there. Where was the Equality Commission then?

        • CliveM

          I have been wondering if someone should take out a test case against the Equality Commission for its discrimination against things like the Coalition for Marriage and it’s willingness to see them discriminated against.

        • DanJ0

          The defence against a church being forced to perform a same-sex marriage ought to be obvious. The vicar or priest is not only providing a service, but taking an integral part in a religious rite because of the nature of it. Both the religious rite and the person performing it ought to be protected. That’s significantly different to the position of a registrar performing a civil marriage. I have some sympathy for a registrar whose job has changed underneath her but she either needs to get another job if she’s uncomfortable with it, or be assigned duties other than being a registrar for any civil marriages.

    • Albert

      Speaking as a Catholic, if a Protestant refused to make me a First Holy Communion cake on those grounds, I would be annoyed, but respect his decision and take my custom elsewhere. I wouldn’t take the baker to court.

      What’s at stake here isn’t the cake, but the need of some people to control others, in order to shut down their freedom to disagree with this week’s regulation issue opinion.

      • CliveM

        I think that is the nub if it, we all have the right to take our custom elsewhere. I wouldn’t necessarily want to give money to someone who refused what I would see as a reasonable request. I would want to see those businesses who behaved in a reasonable manner flourish and would spend accordingly.

        • Albert

          Indeed, and what about the case of (say) and anti-Semite who wants to put an anti-Semitic campaign slogan on a cake. Does Carl seriously think that that is only wrong because the campaign would be illegal? No, surely not. If I think the campaign is wrong, then I may have to decide to withdraw my services. You can’t pick and choose.

          • CliveM

            We should (in the main) be allowed to be honest to our conscience. Of course nowadays that may mean we will lose out over others consciences.

          • Albert

            In some cases we can be stopped from doing something we conscientiously believe we should. We cannot justly be coerced to do something against our conscience.

          • CliveM

            Yes that’s true.

          • carl jacobs

            I introduced the Nazi cake to demonstrate the inconsistency of those who say “You have no right to refuse any message cake.” They don’t even believe that. It exposes the nature of this Gay Marriage cake as coercive and vindictive. As in “Ha ha. We won and you lost. Now I’m going to grind it in your face for the sake of schadenfreude.” That is what is at the root of this. That may be cruel and vindictive. But cruel ad vindictive us not the same as coercion of conscience.

            I am walking a fine line here, Albert. I am defending the concept of religious coercion from spurious application. There are plenty of other legitimate reasons to refuse to make that cake. But I have yet to see a consistent argument on grounds of religious conscience.

          • Albert

            We are probably agreed.

        • DanJ0

          But isn’t that contingent on the issue being one of discrimination against ideas, rather than people, otherwise we’re in the “No blacks, no dogs, no Irish” area again. I’d like to think that B&Bs limiting their services like that would go out of business through lack of custom but do we really want to see discrimination against individuals and groups like that? It’s socially corrosive.

          • CliveM

            I certainly agree that that sort of discrimination should not be allowed. If the bakers had refused to serve simply on sexuality it would have been wrong and taking them to court would have been right. I am not meaning to suggest all behaviour should be tolerated.

          • I think you are deliberately obfuscating here.
            Firstly, discrimination against “blacks, dogs and Irish” is discrimination against what people (and dogs) are as opposed to what they do.
            Secondly, in the case of the B&B, there was not a refusal to allow accommodation- the homosexual couple were offered two separate rooms- but to acquiesce in the practice of sodomy on the premises. In the case of the bakery, there is not a refusal to provide cake- an un-iced cake would have been sold- but to participate in the promotion of homosexuality.

          • DanJ0

            “Secondly, in the case of the B&B, there was not a refusal to allow accommodation- the homosexual couple were offered two separate rooms- but to acquiesce in the practice of sodomy on the premises.”

            You’re making quite a leap there. Firstly, how do you know that a couple, or the couple in case of Chymorvah Private Hotel, practice sodomy. Secondly, how do you know that the couple intended to perform sex acts in the hotel? One almost always books a room for the night, and the rooms have a bed or beds in them. The rest is in your imagination.

          • You are still obfuscating; in fact you are turning it into an art form.
            Firstly, you are the one who mentioned “blacks, dogs and Irish.” If it’s irrelevant to the B&B case, why did you raise it?
            Secondly, if the couple did not intend to practise homosexuality, why did they object to the two separate rooms? Unless of course- perish the thought!- they were merely out to cause trouble.

          • DanJ0

            If you wish to be insulting then expect me to return the tone: you really need to learn to read for comprehension, as they used to say in schools, regarding my mentioning that famous B&B sign.

            Your differentiation between being and doing is irrelevant in the B&B case because the law is clear on what is illegal discrimination.

            As for accepting single rooms, the couple booked a double room and they are in a civil partnership i.e. effectively married. Married couples share beds whether or not they want to have sex in them. Married couples sleep in beds far more than have sex in them. You’re being a little absurd.

            The B&B case went right up to the Supreme Court because of the CI/CLC and each time the owners lost their appeal. What they did was illegally discriminate against the couple because of their sexual orientation, not because of their behaviour.

          • DanJ0

            “Firstly, discrimination against “blacks, dogs and Irish” is discrimination against what people (and dogs) are as opposed to what they do.”

            That’s irrelevant in the B&B case. It’d also be irrelevant if an employer refused to employ someone simply because he or she is a Christian.

      • carl jacobs

        Albert

        What’s at stake here isn’t the cake, but the need of some people to control others, in order to shut down their freedom to disagree with this week’s regulation issue opinion.

        Yes, that is exactly correct. But you can’t just arbitrarily turn it into a case of religious conscience because it’s convenient to do so. The reason I stated all of these other cases is because all of them touch on actual religious issues that would not generate widespread support for the Baker among those who would support this Baker over the gay marriage cake. And I ask myself “Why?”

        Put it this way. For there to be a claim of religious conscience, there would have to be a coerced sin against God. Writing ‘Support Gay Marriage’ on a cake is not a sin against God. It is rather a visible manifestation that I lost the conflict. That’s the whole of my case. That’s also why I said this was more a matter of pride than conscience.

        • Albert

          I’m not arguing about religious freedom here. I’m arguing a more liberal point. If I disagree with something I am being asked to produce, then I can’t morally be coerced into providing a service producing that thing. We can stop people doing things against their conscience, but we cannot force them to do things against their consciences.

          ‘Support Gay Marriage’

          Encouraging people to commit sin, is itself sin.

          • carl jacobs

            Albert

            Encouraging people to worship a false god is also sin. If by making the cake I am complicit, then I should never make a cake for a non-Christian religious purpose. Are you willing to go there?

            And in fact the state does compel over conscience. A conscientious objector in war is not given a free pass. He may claim what he likes. He may be extended gracious status. But he has no right to it. He could be put into the ranks and told to fight. If he refuses he will be punished. Severely. His conscience is no defense. A Christian Scientist may be compelled to provide medical care for his children. And well he should be.

            What actually happens is the dominant worldview determines the scope of allowable conscience exemptions according to its own light. There is no blanket clause which says “My conscience is paramount over all things.” Nor should there be.

          • Albert

            If by making the cake I am complicit, then I should never make a cake for a non-Christian religious purpose.

            If someone’s conscience thinks that, then yes. There are certainly some non-Christian religious cakes Christians ought not to make. “Support the Islamisation of the West” for example.

            And in fact the state does compel over conscience.

            Of course it does. But that does not advance one inch towards demonstrating the rightness of that.

            But he has no right to it.

            Yes he does.

            If he refuses he will be punished. Severely.

            …and unjustly.

            A Christian Scientist may be compelled to provide medical care for his children.

            Someone who will not adequately care for his children should not be compelled to care for them. The children should be removed, either temporarily (for medical treatment) or more permanently depending on the failing of care.

            There is no blanket clause which says “My conscience is paramount over all things.”

            I never said “all things”, I referred to my own positive actions.

          • carl jacobs

            Albert

            There are certainly some non-Christian religious cakes Christians ought not to make.

            Evasion. How about that Bar Mitzvah cake? Should he make that cake? Because it fits the criteria you specified rejecting for the Gay Marriage cake.

            Someone who will not adequately care for his children should not be compelled to care for them.

            The grounds for removal would be what? The failure to provide the care that you just asserted they don’t have to provide for the sake of conscience? Parents have a positive duty to provide care. The Law reflects that positive duty. It demands they provide care and punishes them for neglect. The positive duty takes no account of conscience.

            Yes he does

            And from where does this right originate? Shadrach refused to worship the Idol not on the authority of his conscience but on the authority of God. A conscience is only as good as the truth that informs it.

          • Albert

            Evasion. How about that Bar Mitzvah cake? Should he make that cake? Because it fits the criteria you specified for rejecting for the Gay Marriage cake.

            It’s not an evasion. There’s nothing wrong with having a Bar Mitzah, and the cake isn’t encouraging other people to support Bar Mitzahs.

            And the grounds for removal would be what? The failure to provide the care that you just asserted they don’t have to provide for the sake of conscience?

            The rights of the child. You are starting at the wrong end. The child is entitled to certain things. Parent is not providing these things. Therefore, unless the parent consents to someone else providing them, the child must be removed (this need not be physical removal, just that someone else provides those things).

            It demands they provide care and punishes them for neglect.

            I don’t know what happens in the US, but I think that here in the UK if this kind of thing happens, the state simply imposes the treatment, it does not require the parents’ consent, it stems from the rights of the child, and the parents are not punished.

            And from where does this right originate? Shadrach refused to worship the Idol not on the authority of his conscience but on the authority of God. A conscience is only as good as the truth that informs it.

            That just looks confused to me. How did Shadrach know the authority of God? Through his conscience. Conscience is just our sense of right and wrong. It doesn’t mean we do what we like, it is a stern master against doing what we like. It is that faculty by which we (hope to) know right from wrong. There cannot be any position in which we can know we ought to ignore it, for our sense of ought comes only via it. Our conscience may be wrong of course, but that’s a different matter.

          • So, is a registrar officiating at a civil re-marriage itself a sin?

            Is any encouragement for Christians to pay taxes to a deified Roman emperor itself a sin?

          • Albert

            So, is a registrar officiating at a civil re-marriage itself a sin?

            Quite possibly.

            Is any encouragement for Christians to pay taxes to a deified Roman emperor itself a sin?

            By paying taxes I am doing nothing to promote the policies of the Government. It’s a quite different case. If the taxes are justly levied, then it is prima facie just to pay them, probably unjust not to pay them, and therefore not sinful to encourage people to pay to pay them.

          • But we know that the Roman taxes were levied for specific reasons, that included promoting armed imperial expansionism. We cannot feign naïveté.

            Yet, when the power to deny is reversed, for instance, when a broadcasting network drops a reality TV star because it disagrees with the latter’s vocal opposition on the show to same-sex marriage, many professing Christianity object again.

            They assert that a service provider doesn’t have the right to impose their beliefs about same-sex marriage by censoring freedom of expression.

          • Albert

            Sorry David, your argument is opaque to me. What are the general principles you are upholding here?

          • The general principle is that Christians cannot expect the support of the law when they limit the service that they extend in a way that the law doesn’t support.

            It doesn’t mean that the principle that led them to take that stand is wrong. I also oppose same-sex marriage.

            It merely means that withholding a service, (decorating a cake with ‘support gay marriage’) from a member of the public, when a ‘support straight marriage’ cake would be no problem is no longer a legally defensible approach.

            If we want to do that, we have to be prepared to pay the price.

          • Then let’s pay the price. Let’s see where it leads. Surely people are free to support or object to political causes in a so-called liberal democracy? And that’s essentially what this is about.

            In England, where same sex marriage is legal, if it had been a refusal to bake a *wedding* cake celebrating the faux union, it would be more complicated and probably an offence like the Bull’s case. That’s why the judge in that trial recently said this decision may have been wrong and has called for a ‘conscience clause’ to be introduced.

            As Jack understands it, the provisions in NI against political and religious discrimination were designed to rid the country of sectarianism – Protestants and Catholics; Unionists and Nationalists. When did other political causes, such as supporting same sex marriage, get introduced? This is a misuse and extension of the legislation, surely?

          • I think that the Equalities Commission is simply including political discrimination as a catch-all to maximise their chances of success.

            Yes, we should campaign for a ‘conscience clause’, but for now, only LGBT activists have been willing to test the boundaries. Perhaps, a Christian might win compensation if a Muslim baker refused to provide communion bread, or a ‘Jesus is Lord’ cake, but I doubt that we would be seen by the wider society as victims of religious discrimination.

            My view is that all this will do is to make the MacArthurs into martyrs of heavy-handed State policy. A reasonable accommodation amendment should force those claiming indirect discrimination to seek mediation before trying to remedy these claims through the court.

          • Albert

            Ah, I completely agree. It’s the law that’s wrong. I’m not sure that your examples support your position though:

            Yet, when the power to deny is reversed, for instance, when a broadcasting network drops a reality TV star because it disagrees with the latter’s vocal opposition on the show to same-sex marriage, many professing Christianity object again.

            But not legally I think.

          • Not legally, but Christians criticised A&E channel for silencing Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the Duck Dynasty family, after he promoted his religious views against same-sex relationships.

            Why is it legally wrong for a TV Channel to prevent its service from being used to promote opposition to same-sex relationships, while it’s legally right for a baker to prevent its service being used to promote same-sex marriage?

            Is that because all legislators and voters have an implied duty to skew the law in favour of support Christian sexual mores?

            Does that also mean that we should also criminalise all consensual acts that fall short of the Christian ideal, like sex before marriage?

          • Albert

            I don’t quite follow your logic. If a channel silences someone for saying something I agree with. That’s their right. It’s also my right to complain. The law will rightly defend them and not me (the BBC is perhaps a little different) and I have the right not to watch said channel. So here’s the paradox in your position:

            Why is it legally wrong for a TV Channel to prevent its service from being used to promote opposition to same-sex relationships, while it’s legally right for a baker to prevent its service being used to promote same-sex marriage?

            It isn’t. You said Christians criticized the TV channel but the same-sex baker chappy is being taken to court. The two cases are different. One is legal, one is not. The inconsistency therefore, if there is one, lies on the other side: the liberal is free (legally) to stop a Christian promoting his beliefs, and free to demand a Christian promote the liberal’s belief.

          • However the Christian criticism was that the TV channel should not have the legal right to prevent Robertson from expressing his views.

            That Robertson chose not to pursue the matter through litigation doesn’t diminish the fact that Christian groups sought to place the channel under the same sort of legal obligation to support free speech that they would allow Asher bakery to abdicate.

          • Albert

            I would disagree with those Christians. If its their channel, they get to choose what they broadcast.

        • Politically__Incorrect

          “…Writing ‘Support Gay Marriage’ on a cake is not a sin against God…”
          I’m not sure about that Carl. If you’re conscience tells you it is wrong, and the idea is aginst your beliefs, then I think it is a sin, albeit not a terrible one. If I was coerced into baking a cake with “Support Jimmy Saville” on it I would feel I had betrayed God, who finds the behaviour of such people abominable. I think it is very much to the bakers’ credit that they abided by their beliefs, knowing the reaction that would follow, and the lack of appreciation of their views by many people including the authorities.

          • carl jacobs

            Politically_Incorrect

            A conscience can be seared. It can be improperly formed. It can be informed by false morality. It is not an infallible authority. If a JW says “You cannot for the sake of conscience give my daughter a blood transfusion” I would (given the authority) drive over his conscience with a tank. And I would back over it four or five times for good measure. His conscience is improperly formed. I would not respect it. I would instead judge it by proper authority and act accordingly. Do you think the Muslim who has his daughter “circumcised” is not acting for the sake of conscience?

            I agree that the Baker deserves credit for taking a stand. But he should not take that stand on the basis of religious conscience unless he can present a consistent case for religious coercion. He has to explain why this case is unique relative to all the other cakes he might be willing to make that somehow fall askance of Christian doctrine and morality.

          • Politically__Incorrect

            Yes, but when the bakers made the decision to refuse the order, I suspect they made the decision based on the belief that SSM is against Gods law, which is correct. It is unlikely they took time to weight up the legal arguments. If they had, they may have been plagued by doubt and made a decision based more on human values than Gods values. True, consciences can be malformed, but in their case they shaped them around clear Scriptural teachings.

            In the case of JWs and blood transfusions, their belief is on shaky ground because it is based on a very loose interpretation of a particualr verse (Acts 15:19–21). I would not say the two do not stand up to comparison

          • carl jacobs

            The case of JWs and blood transfusion was introduced only to demonstrate that the Law can legitimately override conscience. Remember also that the Baker Is making an assertion to a court that (for good or ill) doesn’t care about Acts 15. Your argument is correct but it is irrelevant to the judge. If the baker wants to convince the judge, he has to demonstrate consistency. He cannot hope to prevail on a religious claim of conscience that is not consistency applied.

            You could argue that they should claim “The Law is an ass. Throw us into the furnace if you must but will not obey.” That is a perfect legitimate response. But they can’t claim “This situation is different so you should give us a pass” unless they can show it is different.

          • ” … the Law can legitimately override conscience.”
            Yes, it can use force. That doesn’t necessarily give legitimacy, only than temporal legitimacy. A Christian, or a member of another faith, for that matter, still has to decide what he can properly render to the state and what he should render to God.

          • carl jacobs

            Jack

            Force doesn’t render it illegitimate either. When you use the force of the Law to overide a Muslim father’s conscience as it impels him to see his daughter butchered “circumcused” do you consider that as an illegitimate use of force?

          • Jack never said force would render the use of force illegitimate, did he? So far as Jack’s concerned it wouldn’t be in the example you given, nor would he consider giving medical treatment to a child against a parents wishes, necessarily illegitimate. Read what Jack wrote.
            Jack’s conscience is based and has been formed on Christian principles. Where force and his conscience meet, there’s no issue. Where they part company, then there is.

          • carl jacobs

            Jack

            Then you agree that the Law has no necessary duty to respect a man’s conscience. The conflict is not about whether the Law should give space to conscience. The conflict is about who determines the space allowed for conscience and the basis they use for making that determination.

            The first duty of a Christian is to God and the Law be damned. But he must first correctly understand his duty to God.

          • “Then you agree that the Law has no necessary duty to respect a man’s conscience.”

            Jack would agree the law cannot respect the consciences of all individuals because it has to apply to whole populations and has to promote the common good. As a Christian, he would add the qualifier that the temporal law should always aim to be in compliance with the spiritual law. The law in a Christian state would support a Christian conscience. The law in a secular state should where possible permit the proper exercise conscience. Freedom makes it a necessary duty of a state to stay out of those areas it has no legitimate right to interfere with.

            “The conflict is not about whether the Law should give space to conscience. The conflict is about who determines the space allowed for conscience and the basis they use for making that determination.”

            No, the conflict is about both. The law should allow space for conscience and the basis for determination should be whether state intrusion is necessary in the common good. Politically, Jack believes in freedom to think, speak and act in whatever he choses so long as it cannot be shown he is materially or physically hurting someone else or causing them an injustice or a deprivation and in doing so he is damaging the common good.

            “The first duty of a Christian is to God and the Law be damned. But he must first correctly understand his duty to God.”

            Agreed – and we will all see this duty to God differently.

          • GKoH

            Carl – apples and oranges here. There’s a difference between asking/forcing someone to do something which goes against their conscience and preventing someone from doing something at the dictate of their conscience. In the latter case there is an action which may be weighed upon its own merits.

  • Henry Crun III

    One of the worst aspects to the long-lived war against our Judeo-Christian culture is the Marxist assault on language.

    In common use, we now have “…-phobias”, implying that people who dislike the concept of homosexuality (or even foreigners) treat those people as if they’re spiders, confined spaces or precipices. In other words the opposition is borne mainly of fear or fright, and, crucially, it’s irrational.

    Arguably worse, we have “discrimination”, even in acts of Parliament. What is really meant is prejudice. There appears now to be no convenient replacement word meaning “a measured, considered choice.” If there’s no word for ‘considered choice’ any more, there’s no simple way of saying we are making one.

    Then there is ‘gay’ itself, an early casualty. I could describe the emotional states I have observed amongst homosexual acquaintances in many ways, but gay – carefree, innocent happiness – is something I have rarely, if ever, seen.

    And, if I can digress briefly to symbolism, in traditional Judeo-Christian belief,
    the rainbow is a universal reminder that God once removed most of humanity in one, fair, judgement, and that he has promised never to do this again, in order that we might instead avail ourselves of forgiveness and redemption. The idea that rainbows are now symbolic of ‘anything goes’ is at best a grotesque reversal. Beyond that, words fail me.

    Finally, the earliest victim, and something that should cause the most mourning,
    is the demise of ‘responsibilities’. It has been largely usurped by ‘rights’.

    It’s abundantly clear that human rights do not exist inherently, that human nature does not include a propensity to fairness and help for the weak and disadvantaged, although we recognise the goodness in that as an ideal and aspire towards it.

    St. Paul had a bit to say on this, incidentally: “I see in me a rule…”

    So society now makes logically and morally absurd laws: declaring people
    have ‘rights’ when the reality is that we have (or should have) a responsibility to act on certain principles.

    On an overcrowded and competitive planet, exercising rights inevitably means
    taking away something from someone else. That’s the force of law denying ‘rights’ to someone else. It’s actually prejudice (not discrimination!), and injustice, and ultimately bad for the soul.

    Here’s a ubiquitous example: In the past, if my charitable giving was used dishonestly or against my principles I could withdraw my support. Yet we now live in the age of the welfare state, unfettered, morally-questionable immigration, EU industrial-scale corruption and the travesties that are the United Nations, the IMF and our governmental foreign aid programmes.

    I thus no longer operate as a moral actor. I am merely a rubber tree in a plantation, planted here merely to be bled for funds.

    Obfuscation and corruption of language have been most effective weapons. Now, when a traditional Christian uses the word ‘good’, the media, and most of
    secular society hear something entirely different. They understand something entirely different.

    The compass has twisted on its pivot. The Earth’s poles have pretty much reversed (something not new, apparently), and Christians have almost entirely failed to notice nor show any concern.

    For the little it’s worth, I completely agree with Rev. Ould. The Christian Institute needs to hear his argument and change its line quickly, or it will do a great disservice to all of us who want freedom to debate and speak.

    Ironically, none of us have a divine right to always be right! It doesn’t matter if we are for or against the concept of, or practice of, homosexuality, or some intense (and opposing) version of Christianity, Judaism or Islam: we should have the right to be an actor in the debate. And that ‘right’ includes having our views robustly challenged (at an intellectual level!).

    It’s the only ‘right’ I’d ever concede should exist, anywhere. And we all have a responsibility to restore that and protect it. Or we shall only have lies and falsehoods governing our society.

    • Language is a huge part of it, but there is a flip side to having the meaning of words stolen. Where somebody uses the word ‘discrimination’ to mean ‘unjust discrimination’, we get to explain to them that that is not what ‘discrimination’ means. We have regressed, away from being able to use names as symbols, to having to explain the concepts behind the names. That can be seen as sad and frustrating, or as an opportunity.

      • Uncle Brian

        “Undiscriminating” is still a useful adjective, and it serves as a reminder that if “undiscriminating” is not a good thing to be, the opposite is not a bad thing to be.

        • Albert

          Brilliant comment.

          • Uncle Brian

            Thank you, Albert. I didn’t know you cared!

          • Albert

            Nice warm feeling.

          • Uncle Brian

            Fully reciprocated. Strictly in the Ashers-approved sense, of course.

      • Henry Crun III

        I hear you, but I fear we rarely get that luxury.

        I am certain, though, that we should noisily oppose any more games of that sort, and we should loudly call out wrongness for what it is.

        Why, for example, do we tolerate any dishonesty by our MPs or our clergy? Is there a strange absence of good people to replace those who feel they can lie and cheat?

        There is an immoral tidal wave swamping our land. Why is the church so afraid of pointing to higher and safer ground?

  • It betrays a measure of reluctance when the Northern Ireland Equality Commission explained to Asher that it “made clear that the claimant will be seeking only modest damages for the upset and inconvenience caused”.

    The BBC also reports the Commission as stating that it “would prefer not to have to litigate” but added the case “raises issues of public importance regarding the extent to which suppliers of goods and services can refuse service on grounds of sexual orientation, religious belief and political opinion”.

    So, perhaps goaded on by the claimant, they are reluctantly pursuing this action in the hope that the Court will provide a definitive ruling in the public interest.

    Neither I, nor Peter Ould are lawyers. So, neither of us can offer an expert opinion as to how the case might turn out.

    In spite of this, it’s still worth a layman’s review of what the regulations actually say and how they were drafted in respect of services.

    Direct discrimination: ‘A person (A) discriminates against another (B) if, because of a protected characteristic, A treats B less favourably than A treats or would treat others.’

    In the case of Hall vs Bulls, the Supreme Court judge stated: ‘I would therefore regard the criterion of marriage or civil partnership as indissociable from the sexual orientation of those who qualify to enter it. More importantly, there is an exact correspondence between the advantage conferred and the disadvantage imposed in allowing a double bed to the one and denying it to the other.

    For Asher bakery to have committed direct discrimination, the support for gay marriage would have to be indissociable from the sexual orientation of the customer.
    1. The parallel status of gay marriage would have to already exist, which it doesn’t.
    2. Support for gay marriage would have to be categorically associated with those of a homosexual orientation, like civil partnership. However, that isn’t the case either.

    Indirect discrimination: ‘(a) which he applies or would apply equally to persons not of B’s sexual orientation, (b) which puts persons of B’s sexual orientation at a disadvantage compared to some or all others (where there is no material difference in the relevant circumstances, (c) which puts B at a disadvantage compared to some or all persons who are not of his sexual orientation (where there is no material difference in the relevant circumstances), and (d) which A cannot reasonably justify by reference to matters other than B’s sexual orientation.

    The use of *AND* is important. So, the prospective plaintiff might claim that, although the criterion of religious belief might also prevent the bakery from providing a ‘Bring Back Slavery’ cake (to the detriment of right-wing extremists who aren’t necessarily homosexual), that criterion would still disadvantage himself *and* some or all homosexuals relative to heterosexuals.

    A finding of indirect discrimination doesn’t require evidence that a criterion indissociable from homosexual orientation was at stake.

    For the refusal to be adjudged indirect discrimination, the question isn’t whether some other group could also be disadvantaged by the religious criterion, but whether the *same* criterion could conceivably allow Asher bakery to provide straight people with a ‘Support Straight Marriage’ cake, thereby putting them at an advantage to those activist homosexuals, like the plaintiffs, who have a blanket refusal.

    The more extreme logical extrapolations (Nazi/Slavery/Infanticide cakes) are not a matter for the court to decide.

    For indirect discrimination to be proved, support for gay marriage doesn’t have to categorically follow a person’s orientation. In other words, would the bakery’s religious policy permit an order from straight people for a ‘Support Straight Marriage’ cake?

    If Asher had stated that their religious policy prevented them from participating in sloganeering of any kind, then that policy would be equally applicable to ‘Support [insert chosen variant here] Marriage’ cakes.

    However, if the religious policy is either not a consistent policy at all, or one that could inadvertently refuse this sloganeering cake to activists of homosexual orientation, but logically allow one for activists of a straight orientation, I can’t see why a judge shouldn’t rule that indirect discrimination, as defined in law, did occur.

    As a footnote, the judge in the Bulls case advocated the idea of reasonable accommodation. However, until that is ratified in law, the current regulations will leave supporters of traditional marriage open to litigation.

    What we can do is reiterated in the Supreme Court ruling: ‘Mr and Mrs Bull are, of course, free to manifest their religion in many other ways. They do this by the symbolism of their stationery and various decorative items in the hotel, by the provision of bibles and gospel tracts, and by the use of their premises by local churches.’

    At what point do we follow Christ, who in the provision of services, said: ‘And if anyone presses you into service for one mile, go with him two miles.’?

    So, perhaps, a prominent sign: ‘We are committed to providing service to all. We also maintain our right to express and discuss our Christian beliefs by which our lives are fashioned.’

    • Graham Wood

      David. You certainly making a meal (no pun intended) of this issue and seem to be arguing for a legitimate charge of indirect discrimination by the Ashers against the plaintiff.

      You say: In fact, it’s the admitted religious criterion by which the plaintiff was refused the cake.”

      But as already pointed in on this thread, what you call the religious criterion is only one element in the Asher’s objection. ( It is arguable that that issue of conscience is sufficient, and that has yet to be decided by a judge).

      But as Peter Oulds rightly argues the other element, perhaps secondary to the religious objection, is that of being compelled to place a political/ideological slogan on a cake. Where then does it end if the principle is accepted?

      As Phil R succinctly puts it in his post below, the issue is really simple:
      ” What we are discussing here is effectively the very essence of freedom”
      Or put another way, the Ashers are conscientious objectors on both counts, and the charge of directly or indirectly discriminating against the plaintiffs simply does not arise.

      • So, let me be a bit more succinct this time.

        1. I have campaigned and continue to campaign against same-sex marriage.

        2. We only know that the owners of the Colin and Karen McArthur, and their son Daniel, who is manager, decided the message on the cake was contrary to their beliefs.

        However, the secondary assertion that you mention agrees with my statement that if Asher’s ‘policy prevented them from participating in sloganeering of any kind, then that policy would be equally applicable to ‘Support [insert chosen variant here] Marriage’ cakes.’ If that’s the case, then it will not be considered to contravene the Equality regulations.

        3. Contrary to the assertion: ‘Or put another way, the Ashers are conscientious objectors on both counts, and the charge of directly or indirectly discriminating against the plaintiffs simply does not arise’, we *know* that that courts have exercised their legal responsibility to limit the absolute freedom when that freedom discriminates on grounds of sexual orientation.

        As in the Supreme Court judgement for Hall vs.Bull: ‘under article 9(2), the freedom to manifest their religion can be subject only to “such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society . . . for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others”.

        If conscientious objectors are prepared to break laws with which they disagree, they should be prepared to accept the consequences.

        • Hi David

          Having clashed with you on another blog, I can say for sure you’re NOT pro gay marriage , albeit, you are on the thoughtful and respectful end of that spectrum. But welcome anyways.

          • Thanks Hannah.

          • carl jacobs

            David Shepherd

            FWIW you are easily one of the most impressive commenters I have ever encountered. You would be a welcome addition here.

          • Carl,

            Thanks for the kudos. I think ‘where sin abounded, grace much more abounds’ sums my life up. It was always good to see your thoughtful contributions on Peter Ould’s blog.

            I look forward to commenting here more!

        • Phil R

          “If conscientious objectors are prepared to reject the
          limitations on the freedom to manifest their religion that protect the
          legal rights of others, they should be prepared to accept the
          consequences”

          So these (unjust) laws are there for our greater good and if we reject them then the state has a duty protect the will of the majority.

          Funny I have heard this before somewhere……

          • Actually, should the entire tide turn Christianity into a minority (like blacks and gays), the law would ensure that the State would still have a duty to protect our rights as a minority.

            The law ensures that the will of the majority doesn’t prevail in the refusal of services to minorities.

  • The Inspector General

    These Equality Commissions need to be scrapped. Remnants from a time when this country was plunging headlong into socialism and the people needed to be policed in mind and thought.

    It’s a hard place, the rest of the world, and if the only problem you have in the UK are homosexuals feeling aggrieved because no one will bake them slogan ridden cakes, then everything is pretty damn well rosy here, is it not ?

    UKIP. We look to you. Delivering us from the EU is not the only ‘service’ you can deliver us from….

  • len

    Life was so much simpler when we stood on our Judeo/Christian foundations a piece of cake one might say now everyone wants their own particular slice of cake and eat it too!
    Crumbs! Sorry I just cannot take this seriously a ‘gay cake’ whatever next…..Our Country (and many others ) have gone from the sublime to the ridiculous…A gay Cake?.

  • The Inspector General

    The Equality Commissions have to go. This cake business is beyond a joke. What do they do, these QUANGOs, that self interested groups can’t do for themselves.

    Let the aggrieved take out a private prosecution at their own expense, which will no doubt wipe those peculiar gay smiles off their gay faces.

    Anyone else think these malcontents are having a good laugh over this. Laughing up their sleeves at us…

  • Dan

    Wonder if the NI Equality Commission would back me if a cake shop refused my request to have a swastika iced on top of a cake?

    • Phil R

      Someone in NI needs to go there tomorrow and ask them to do just that.

      When they refuse and the Useless Quango (That I pay for!) refuses to intervene, then we have a clearer picture of the real issue here.

      • The Inspector General

        Problem, you two. It’s state sponsored buggery which is in vogue, not NAZIsm

        • Phil R

          Anyone offering a bonfire of the QUANGOS?

          Yes I remember now….it was Mr C and Co..they burned one if I remember right.

          • Royinsouthwest

            Guy Fawkes night would have been a good time for such a bonfire. As for the Guy on the top of the fire, I can think of a few candidates.

          • Yes. Chap by the name of Farage.

            Bloody great bonfire of quangos, professional busybodies, jackboots and sneaks, tick box men and little Hitlers who can’t do anything useful themselves but love bossing other people around.. The equalities commission and public money for ‘charities’ like Stonewall and ‘tell mama’ etc will be among the first to go.

            After Clacton and Rochester it looks more that a Pipedream.

          • Phil R

            So did the cons

            I was told the only QUANGO actually burned was the Becta. Who’s job it was to get technology taught properly in schools and was self funding.

            BECTA would have been the only one I would have kept

            I agree that we cannot afford to borrow money to fund useless orgaisations like stonewall or the equalities commission.

          • ‘I agree that we cannot afford to borrow money to fund useless organisations like stonewall or the equalities commission.’

            If only they were merely useless, like Anthony Gormley’s metal men on a Lancashire beach.

            They are of course far worse than useless. Actively harmful. And our grandchildren (if any) will be paying for them in more ways than one.

  • Amelie J Smith

    The owners of Ashers should retaliate and ask the police to charge the Equalities Commission with breach of the Protection from Hatred Act, misconduct in public office, misfeasance in public office and misfeasance of public funds. The prospect of a serious prison term should make the Commission back down fairly sharpish.

    • Sounds like a plan. If Jack knew what all those laws were about he might agree too.

  • jsampson45

    Weird that this article starts by emphasizing that this case has nothing to do with religious freedom. I suppose one can get away with such a statement since religious freedom is such a nebulous concept. The author then seems to go on to give legal advice – is he a lawyer? If the author is right, I assume that the CI’s lawyers will advise accordingly. Meanwhile, a house divided will fall. Perhaps the Christian Institute should be invited to reply to this article, then we can decide whether to support their action or not.

    • Rasher Bacon

      I did think our hosts a tiny bit arrogant in their criticism of the CI, but made allowances for their need to create an impression of deeper insight. The more I think about it, the less it amounts to.

      Peter has fought long and hard against SSM and it’s implications. Peter – I hope you’re not disappointed here, but I fear this is a ‘wait for Pilling” situation. It is to do with fundamental equalities and changing law – the EC said so.

  • Royinsouthwest

    In both World Wars we allowed people to refuse to join the armed services on grounds of conscience. If we could do that when the survival of this country was at stake why on earth can’t we allow people to exercise their conscience when virtually nothing is at stake?

    If a black baker was asked to bake a cake with a slogan supporting the BNP and refused we all know what the attitude of the Some are More Equal than Others Commission would be to any complaints.

  • Asher’s
    should be requesting from the police to see the full accounts for the
    last however many years of this public body The Northern Ireland
    Equalities Commission, and a full report and CRB checks of every
    member of its governing body. Funds a bit low through malfeasance?
    It certainly is malfeasance of a public body to demand money with
    menace (compensation or court) from a small (employs 62) bakery that
    was only exercising their Christian consciences when refusing the
    customer a cake with a homosexual political slogan in support of an
    institution that does not exist in Northern Ireland.

    Even though the recipient a gay councillor Andrew Muir who had been the
    first gay mayor in Northern Ireland was celebrating anti-homophobia
    day, whatever that means? I’m sure people in Northern Ireland do not
    have a fear of homosexuals.

    They are threatening to take away the freedoms of Christian people to run
    businesses in accordance with their beliefs and consciences which are
    governed by the Bible. There were no threats or intimidation from
    the Christians, the heavy handedness here is on the part of the NIEC which is wrong to do s

    • Dan

      This commission has, in its various guises over the years, pontificated upon the religious make up of all companies in NI…..offering ‘guidance and advice’ for those in which an imbalance was perceived…too few Protestants/Catholics, or men/women….yet, in all that time it has never once, had a fair representation of men or Protestants in its workforce.
      It’s always been heavily weighted in the numbers of Catholics and women….but nothing must be said because that would be against the spirit of the Belfast Agreement.

      • The Inspector General

        As a mick, this man says the Commission must be abolished…

      • The NI Equality Commission is acting as a political body. Back in October 2013 its commissar criticised the NI Assembly for blocking same sex marriage

        “We as a commission support same-sex marriage. It is a fundamental equality matter. Leadership needs to be shown – people from the gay and lesbian community are feeling let down by this.

        “We as a commission support same-sex marriage. It is a fundamental equality matter.

        There is the opportunity for our executive to show leadership by publishing a sexual orientation strategy. That is the basis on which we can proceed to deal with some of these issues, like the ban on donating blood, same-sex adoption and same sex marriage.”
        (Michael Wardlow, Chief Commissioner)

        It has a clear agenda and is imposing this regardless of the law or the democratic process.

  • Politically__Incorrect

    I notice that the CI is appealing for donations to help fight this case. Just been over to the site to do my bit…..

  • Graham Goldsmith

    Thank you Peter. Thats an interesting distinction between the situation in N.I and the rest of the UK and the nature of equality. If Ashers Bakery have given a Christian ”reason” for declining to bake the cake regardless of whether that view is held by all Christians then i suppose that then brings a justification for the action and the defense of it regardless of who is correct in law. Its being tested politically via the legal system in order to influence or establish rights. This is a difficult area of discrimination because it is different from say skin colour, race, gender or sexuality because it crosses into the area of behaviour or certain concepts of things like the nature of marriage. Asking many Christians to act to affirm same sex marriage is similar to compelling an atheist to lead a prayer meeting in church although it becomes tricky when a service is being provided to the public. Some night clubs might refuse entry on the basis of dress code. A cafe nearby recently banned a person for being ”smelly” . I certainly wouldn’t want to bake a cake with a Nazi symbol on it. Offence is in the eye of the beholder but what forms of it justify legal action. Do we have a right to cake ? .

  • Talking of cake ….

    Not many people know this but Happy Jack studied political philosophy at University. The final exam was a piece of cake. This was a big surprise.
    Jack had really been expecting some questions on a sheet of paper !

    Which reminds Jack of the time he said to his daughter, “You’re not going out dressed like that, you look like a cheap tart.” She said, “Oh, Dad. It’s a costume for my new job at the cake shop.”

    • BlingBlingsCollar

  • Paul Cooper

    To answer Peter Ould’s question of why the Christian Institute are choosing to present this as a religious liberties case, it’s clear to me that they are hyping fear of Christians being victims of LGBT “lawfare” in order to maximise donations. They want more currency – both financial and political currency among conservative Christians. Hyping up a fear of Christians being sued or “persecuted” by the courts for any refusal to bow down to any LGBT sacred cows suits the CI’s agenda in this regard. However I agree that it is shortsighted as a few bad legal cases (such as if they lose this one by fighting it on religious conscience grounds) may in fact make reality the imaginary world they present of Christians being compelled by law to act against their consciences on sexuality matters.

  • GKoH

    The answer to the question, “Why make this a case of religious freedom?” is rather simple – because this is a scenario being faced in many places around the western world, many of which having different laws which make this a religious freedom issue.

  • SamHamilton

    Though I don’t know the details of Irish law, we’ve had similar debates over here in the U.S.

    I think the author of this blog post is right in that it’s not wise to make this an issue of Christians vs. gays. What this really is is a debate of whether a baker can be required to participate in speech he doesn’t agree with. Should a baker be required by law to bake a cake that says “all [insert ethnic group] people are stupid?” I realize free speech laws are different in other countries than in the U.S., but are their no protections for people so their not forced to advance speech with which they disagree?

    • Bob

      HAHA Politics is religion in action. ANYONE, who refuses to see this other than an attack on Christian Beliefs is a moron.

      • SamHamilton

        You haven’t convinced me with your name-calling.

        • CliveM

          Well said.