Last night I happened to be at a really posh dinner, sitting beside a Lady who is also a senior judge. We had a most interesting conversation talking about the limitations and powers of the law (as well as the wonder of the Gospel). I asked her about the Ashers case and…well, I’ll wait a bit to give you her considered response.
What is the Ashers case? Ashers Baking Company in Northern Ireland was approached by a gay man who asked them to bake a cake. They refused and were reported to the Equalities Commission who then proceeded to take out a court case against them. Yesterday the owners, the McArthur family, were found guilty of breaking political and sexual discrimination laws. Rightly so. It is absolutely terrible to discriminate against people because of their political or sexual orientation. It’s also another one in the eye for these backward Christian fundamentalists in Northern Ireland who need to step out of the religious darkness of the 18th Century and ‘progress’ into modern times.
We could think for ourselves and take a somewhat different perspective. Because Ashers did not refuse a gay person a cake. They refused to bake a cake with a message supporting gay marriage. And that changes everything.
Does this ruling now mean that a Jewish baker should be forced to bake a cake with a Swastika on it for the BNP (neither the sign nor the party are illegal in the UK)? Would the equalities commission sue a Muslim baker who refused to bake a cake with a cartoon of Mohammed on it, for a Charlie Hebdo party?
‘But that’s ridiculous’, you say. Indeed. Just as it is ridiculous for a Christian who thinks that same-sex marriage is against the Word of God to be compelled to bake a cake with a message supporting it. There is discrimination in this case, but it is not discrimination against the gay man who brought the case (a heterosexual asking for such a cake would also have been turned down), but rather against the Christian baker who is being told he will have to close down if he is not prepared to provide cakes with messages that contradict his beliefs. To refuse to bake someone a cake because they are gay would be wrong. To refuse to decorate that cake with a message which you find offensive is your right (and it’s also worth remembering that SSM is not yet legal in NI at this point).
There is a double standard in British society
Let’s return to my judge. What did she say? She accepted my examples and said that it would clearly be a ridiculous principle to absolutise. That there has to be balance and reason brought into the judgement. But then comes the $64,000 question – who decides what that actually means? The Scottish Christian Party during the recent general election, sent their leaflet off to a printers to be published. The printers refused on the grounds that they did not agree with the messages on it. The messages were not illegal but nonetheless they refused. Could they not be sued for the same reason?
The fact is that there is a double standard in British society just now. The law is being interpreted and enforced in one way for those who represent the cause celebres of our culture, and yet used in a completely different way for those who don’t agree with the shibboleths of our elites.
The irony is that in the name of equality, there is legalized inequality and in the name of tolerance there is state enforced intolerance. The Ashers Bakery case is a red flag warning us of the irrational, unreasonable, intolerant and unequal treatment that those who dare to disagree with the new State absolutist morality, can expect to receive. We need to pray that our Christian freedoms (which are freedoms for all) are not eroded by PC politicians and activists using a compliant judiciary to impose their totalitarian worldview.