We have finally arrived. We said that we would get here but we did not expect it to be so soon.
The Ashers Bakery decision given today is a real signpost to the promised secular nirvana where in the UK we now have a system of state doctrine that must be obeyed.
For those who are not aware of this case my original post provides the basic background. This interview that we conducted with Daniel and Amy McArthur shows what a lovely and thoughtful couple they are, and the dangers that have come from the Equalities Commission pursuing them.
The judges have today declared that the bakers were not allowed to provide a service only to people who agreed with their religious beliefs. The only problem with that perfectly reasonable statement is that it is arguing against something the McArthurs were not doing. They did not say that no homosexuals would be served. The judges were wrong because Ashers were not saying we will only provide a service for those who agree with our religious beliefs. They were prepared to provide a cake for anyone and indeed for any occasion. But they were not prepared to decorate that cake with a message that they profoundly disagreed with.
Rather than saying they would not provide a service to people they disagreed with, they were saying that they would not provide a service they disagreed with. The fact that three intelligent people trained in law could not work out the distinction is more than a little disturbing.
The judges went on to say: "The fact that a baker provides a cake for a particular team or portrays witches on a Halloween cake does not indicate any support for either” as though this were some kind of brilliant point in law and logic. By this criteria if a member of the BNP (a legal British party) goes into a Jewish bakers and asks for a cake with a Swastika (a legal symbol) to be baked, the baker would not be able to refuse. If a Muslim baker was asked to bake one with a cartoon of Mohammed it would be illegal to refuse. If an atheist baker was asked to bake one with John 3:16 or Psalm 14:1 then it would be illegal to refuse.
After all, in the eyes of the court, providing a cake with a particular message on it does not indicate any support for that message. But we all know that that is not how the Law works. When some people wanted to post on London buses "some people are ex-gay – get over it” Boris Johnson banned them. When the Scottish Christian Party asked for leaflets to be printed, the print company refused.
The judgement states that the key question in the whole case is “Did the claimant, on the prescribed ground, receive less favourable treatment than others?” In one sense the answer is clearly no. Ashers would not put that message on their cake for anyone – so everyone was treated the same. In another sense the answer is yes – and so it should be. I should be allowed to refuse to provide services that I profoundly disagree with which my company will not provide to anyone. If I run a print company and someone comes and asks me to print a pornographic booklet, in the eyes of the law am I obliged to do so?
The law in Britain is now moving towards a great inequality
The reality is that the law in Britain is now moving towards a great inequality. It favours one set of beliefs over others.
In this case a government funded agency paid over £40,000 to pursue a bakery because they refused to put a message on one of their cakes. A message that advocated something that is currently illegal in Northern Ireland. Imagine a Christian went into a bakery run by a gay couple and asked for a cake with a message 'support traditional marriage'. If this was refused do you think for a moment that the Equalities Commission would have funded a case against them, or that the court would have decided in their favour?
Many of us know what it is like to be discriminated against. I have been refused meeting spaces in hotels, cafés and other public areas because of my religious beliefs – which are, as yet, not illegal. But if things carry on as they have been doing – the day will come.
I have just returned from speaking at a school where I was asked by a group of pupils doing a project on same sex marriage to give the Christian position. We had a great hour of discussion and exchange of views. By the end I think all of them had heard a position they had never heard before and some were even persuaded! But in the name of 'equality' I am sure that these kinds of opportunities will be banned. Whatever happens different points of view must not be heard, and if the law has to be used to enforce that intolerance in the name of tolerance, then so be it. In the brave new world of today's secular Britain, in the eyes of the law, some are more equal than others.
There are some Christians who seem to enjoy self-flagellating themselves over this issue. Just suck it up they say. Don’t make a fuss. What does it matter anyway?
They don’t seem to grasp that this is not about protecting the Church. It’s about religious freedom, upon which all other freedoms in our society depend. Once you absolutise the state and make it God then real freedom soon disappears.
Once you absolutise the state and make it God then real freedom soon disappears
To his credit and to their shame, the gay rights activist Peter Tatchell has a much better understanding than some Christians. In his response – which he has sent to several Christian groups, he argues cogently and coherently that the key issue here is the question of freedom of speech.
The McArthurs were faced with a petty and vindictive campaign, funded by the government and fueled by the hate mobs on social media. The plaintiff could easily have taken his cake and gone elsewhere to get the message displayed, (if a baker said to me that they did not want to put a Bible verse on a cake then I would just shrug my shoulders and take my business elsewhere – that’s their choice and loss!)
But no, the opportunity to impose the new morality on anyone who does not agree has to be taken. There has to be an opportunity for 'victimhood', 'hurt feelings' and for government, legal and other establishment organisations to virtue signal and say how right on they are with the programme! A senior lawyer once told me that judges don’t lead the culture, they just reflect it by spending their time trying to catch up with the zeitgeist in order to demonstrate how cool and modern they are!
When I asked the question about whether Jewish bakers should be forced to bake a cake with a Nazi message, a leading Humanist tweeted “are Nazis a protected group now?”. His message inadvertently sums up the problem. Its not that homosexuals are a protected group (in this case Ashers were not refusing to serve homosexuals), its that the new state doctrine of same sex marriage is now a protected belief. Any who dare to question this doctrine (or others coming soon to a court near you) will be found guilty of heresy, sedition and blasphemy against the (un) Holy State.
The message here is not one that can be put on a cake. It is not even one about discrimination against Christians. It is simply the message that if we live in country where the state can dictate to businesses what political messages they should promote, we no longer live in a country where freedom of thought, speech and religion has any real meaning. God have mercy.