Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

Patrick H
Gormley


Christian Bakeries that won't bake Cakes reading, "Support Gay Marriage"

In 2014, Ashers, a bakery run by Christians in Northern Ireland, refused to ice a cake that said Support Gay Marriage.

A picture of Bert and Ernie, the allegedly gay characters from Sesame Street was to be placed on the cake.

The order was placed by Gareth Lee, gay activist. Ashers denied it knew he was gay but it is obvious it would have had a good idea that he was. The cake was to be enjoyed at an event marking the International Day against Homophobia.

The bakery agreed to fulfil the order and then later refused on the grounds that doing so contradicted its Christian belief that same sex marriage is wrong. Their attitude is that a bakery run by Christians amounts to a Christian bakery. 

 

What if the message had been, "Religious prejudice against LGBT is wrong"?  Or, "Being gay is a good thing"?  The message was a plea for same sex marriage which is not directly based on these principles but is inseparable from them.  The message was the innocuous Support Gay Marriage.

Ashers was not asked to make this message its own. It was not asked to judge if this message was ironic, an art statement, joke, personal, political or serious. Its job was to create the cake and not to worry about the intent behind the message. It was printing a message for somebody else not for Ashers but that did not stop it arguing that it has the right to refuse to print such messages for it opposes them on conscience grounds. A message being on the face of it offensive to a religion does not necessarily mean the religion is betraying itself if it prints it. Most religions have scriptures that offend some of its own teachings. Eg Jesus accusing God of abandoning him on the cross.

The bakery stands accused of discriminating against gay people for its refusal. The Equality Commission took it to court for discrimination and won. This decision was correct in the sense that a bakery going that far over something that is good and treating it as the end of the moral world is extremism and extremism can go out of control in seconds. To accuse somebody who does good, something morally neutral or what is reasonably good of grave evil is hate.

Ashers is appealing.

It is saying it did not discriminate against a gay person but against a political message. And Ashers had no way of knowing if political or religious or just non-legal gay marriage was meant.  It is pulling the wool over people's eyes.   It judged Gareth Lee's meaning and punished him accordingly.

 

It is lucky though that this test of the anti-discrimination law is based around a cake. It could have been worse.  What if a Christian hospital would not let a man visit his husband in hospital on the basis that it implies acceptance for gay marriage? 

Ashers decided it would make the cake and entered into verbal contract to do so and then cancelled two days later! It broke its agreement and thus discriminated against the customer. 

Also Ashers does not tell us that if the cake were to read, "I am glad to be gay" and was refused it would be discrimination against the customer. And if it were a gay wedding cake a couple would be discriminated against. Also, Ashers does does not tell us that same sex marriage is not just a political issue - it is principally a rights issue. It is a fundamental human right more important than any religious rights. Ashers appeals to its right of freedom of conscience but it is a business and a business is not a person and does not therefore have a conscience. A business is not a person and though a business may be forced in political matters individuals should not. The rights of freedom of speech and conscience and religion applies to people only not business.

It is said it would be cruel to force Ashers to make the cake but that presumes that supporting same sex marriage can be cruel at least for some. To sympathise is just to enable homophobia.

It is a business's job to be prepared to produce things that it strongly disagrees with. Ashers is a business and not a religion and has no right to try and use religious freedom as an excuse for refusing to print non-violent messages.

What is religious freedom?

Has Ashers been denied freedom of religion? No. It is a company not a religion or a religious order. Freedom of religion as a Church or organised system of worship is not the same subject as freedom for people as religious individuals who form a company or business.

In the states, many argue that the First Amendment gives religious freedom only to organised religions, not to religious individuals. In other words, Americans possess no right to enforce religious rules outside their place of worship. You can bar a gay couple from your temple but not your supermarket.

That Ashers opposes this perfectly reasonable principle speaks volumes.

Public service

Ashers was a bakery run by Christians - it is not a Christian organisation and so it was providing a service to the public. That is the key issue. Does a non-religious entity have the right to impose the religious beliefs of its members on the public?

Those who say yes for the public can always shop elsewhere are missing the point. What about the principle? Principles seem insignificant but abandoning them has devastating consequences. If Ashers is right then there should be no place that would bake a gay cake. Remember people with bad principles always discriminate and make others feel inferior. If your principles are flawed it is going to affect how you see and relate to others. Principles are kept in the heart but they are not private.

Some say if Ashers were refusing to print for a football team who they were strongly opposed do that would be discriminating on the basis of preference not principle. But for many, being for or against gay marriage is just a preference. If it is, then Ashers are only pretending they turned down the cake on a point of principle.

It was not Ashers Message

Everybody knows icing the cake did not imply Ashers really endorsed Gay Marriage.  It endorsed nothing.  And even if it did it would be endorsing the right to ask people to support gay marriage.  Freedom of speech means allowing a person to ask for what you consider to be wrong or evil. 

Everybody knows that Christians who run newspapers publish letters criticising Christianity and Christ that they do not agree with. Publishing does not imply support for those opinions and views. Ashers like the Christians are not putting a message out for themselves but for somebody else. It is not their message.

Ashers knows that not everybody is free to apply individual moral codes for there would soon be chaos.

Despite the lies of Ashers supporters, Ashers was homophobic towards Gareth Lee. It said it would bake the cake and then refused and cited biblical grounds. In other words, it gave the impression it was going to do the right thing and then reneged. Accepting and refusing and then quoting scriptures that savage homosexuals is homophobia. And especially when the message on the cake was totally harmless and not only harmless but loving and respectful.

Ashers does not abhor anti-gay religious violence. If you abhor such violence you will not regard any book that says it is from God that endorses it as good but as a disgrace. The Bible God demanded stoning gay people to death and went as far as to warn his people that he would destroy them should they fail to heed any of his edicts. Christians do not stone but that is not the point. They agree with the murders that took place. So whose message comes first if there has to be a choice? A harmless message asking for people to consider protecting same sex love in marriage? Or one laden with passive aggression and hypocrisy and blood drinking?

The Cake was only asking people to consider supporting Gay Marriage, it was not forcing them.

Tolerance and Conscience

Tolerance is a two-way street - if Ashers wants tolerance it has to be tolerant towards gay causes.

You cannot prove that Ashers really had a conscience problem with the cake - letting them discriminate opens the door to using conscience as an excuse to discriminate. A person saying their conscience condemns something is nothing something for the law to care about - their conscience could in theory say the opposite tomorrow. It opens the door to putting what you say is your conscience on trial - you would need to give a lot of evidence that something really is your view. What if a Christian science teacher refused to teach that life could have evolved without a God? We ignore her conscience claim because the evidence says that evolution could have happened on its own and if God is involved it is not evident.

Ashers need to tell us if it is their theological conscience or moral conscience that is at stake. Are they against gay marriage because the Bible says so and not because they have done research and found out for sure that it is harmful? If religion causes such trouble over morality that is bad enough but bringing theology into it is only worse. The true opponent of discrimination does not encourage anything that is going to encourage it.

It is interesting how most people say that Ashers has the right to its opinion about same sex marriage and that same sex marriage activists have the right to theirs. True but what if one side is right? What if one side is supporting not an opinion but a fact? Do you really have the right to say that somebody has an opinion on x being correct when they might actually know its correct? Automatically calling a fact or knowledge an opinion just puts facts and opinions all on the one level. It is unfair to treat a fact as a mere opinion and insulting. It leads to the tyranny of rubbish opinions and reasonable ones being treated as equal. And this inevitably means treating the holders of them all as if they make sense. Can you really let a history teacher say that God made the world in 1900 and that the records before that were fabricated by Satan and treat that person the same as teacher who teaches the standard history? The world has enough to do without having to treat rubbish opinions as serious contenders for being facts.

Some complain that religious rights were being overridden by gay rights. The same often believe that gay people do not have any right to have their sexuality celebrated in any way. But suppose there was an equal contest between religious and gay rights or they were near enough to equal. What can you do but maybe toss a coin? That Christians would not want that says it all!

The g Word

Ashers had a problem too with the word gay on the cake. Christian belief is that a homosexual does not have a gay life for it will lead only to unhappiness in the next life if not in this one.

Political?

And people need to stop saying that the statement on the cake was a political statement. Support Gay Marriage does not clarify if it means civil marriage. We know there are other kinds of marriage not just civil marriage. For example, the Catholic Church can annul a marriage recognised by the state and let the couple marry new spouses whose weddings are null and void in the sight of the state.

It was about trying to make Lee feel like dirt

The McArthurs got the order for the Support Gay Marriage cake with Bert and Ernie from Gareth Lee and refused him in such a way that he felt like a lesser person. He said that.
 
Now for all they knew the cake could have been meant to give to somebody at a party as a wind-up. It was not their business to decide if the message was serious or not. If the cake was a joke and they knew that they would have had no problem baking it. They were homophobic for they hated the message so much that they would have hated it even if it were in jest.

Gareth Lee was a regular in their premises. They must have known or had a good idea that he was gay. He would have been taking the boyfriend there or gay friends. The cake confirmed their suspicions and they declined his order. Do not forget they broke their contract with him. They agreed to do the cake and then declined. That made him feel that his custom was being insulted and he was right. What they knew or did not know was not provable so it did not come up in court.

And as for their deeply held belief that gay marriage is wrong the fact remains that if their belief runs too deep it amounts to bigotry. And such bigotry is definitely against persons not ideas.

As for their attempt to get away with it by pretending their faith is so important to them, that is a further ongoing attack on Mr Lee. And how can you be sure that a person really believes what they say and think they believe? Is it the law's place to take them at their word? Would they respect Mr Lee if he said he was getting apparitions and was told that the cake was part of God's unusual and mysterious plan to save the world from a Satanic attack?

Ashers already bakes cakes it disagrees strongly with

Ashers should bake items with non-violent messages period.

 

I'm sure they have no problem in conscience with giving a type one diabetic a cake! Bigots.

It is odd when Ashers bakes first communion cakes though it sees Catholic communion as an unbiblical counterfeit for receiving Jesus and idolatrously more interested in uniting with Jesus' flesh than in becoming him spiritually and does not bake cakes for gay marriage. What if the cake was for Mormons and read, "God is not a spirit but a man of flesh and bone" You can be sure it will bake it.

The cake did not endorse anything harmful but something many people experience as good - same sex marriage. It is not the same thing if somebody comes in wanting a cake saying, "Support the Racist Party". We must remember that Ashers want the right to condemn something good. Their sympathisers may not admit it but they feel Ashers should be allowed to discriminate against gay people and they reason they feel it is because they are not convinced that gay people are really capable of being good or married.

The difference between a cake saying, "Migrants Out" and "Support Gay Marriage" is that the first opposes fundamental human rights and the second endorses a fundamental human right. The slippery slope fear is scaremongering.

Where is the line to be drawn if we agree with Ashers that one is as bad as the other? Would Ashers have the right to refuse to bake communion bread for Catholics in view of the fact that the Catholics will worship this bread as Jesus himself? The Bible ban on idolatry is very stern. Ashers knows by now that it is in the wrong and it still keeps trying to get the right to discriminate. While worrying about a slippery slope it is not afraid to put the nation on a slippery slope.

A troll commented on an article opposing the bakery's action as follows "What the bigots posting here failed to have noticed is it is the message that the customer wanted on the cake that the bakery objected to not Mr Lee." According to her, the bakers were not discriminating against anyone. They were merely asserting the right to refuse to make a cake that contradicted their conscience.

Even if she were right, the fact remains that the bakery has no problem approving and supporting a hypocritical religious and political system that tells lawyers who know they are defending evil monsters and trying to get them off the hook to condone the evil and tell themselves that the monsters are good people. After all, a good lawyer has to believe his or her own lies to be convincing and to convince others. Christianity does not really believe in freedom of conscience and virtue except when it suits its prejudices.

The fact remains also that Mr Lee was discriminated against in the sense that his right to marriage was being insulted. It might be a bit indirect but it is still discrimination.

Some say you could not expect Ashers to fill an order to bake a cake with a pornographic picture on it. But to compare a loving message of support for same sex marriage to pornography is distasteful.

Disclaimer

Also, Ashers did discriminate because they could have printed and displayed a disclaimer and didn't. The disclaimer could read, "If we make a cake with a message, we do not imply that we agree with the message." Instead, they refused to bake the gay cake despite the fact that they must have used suppliers whose policies and business ethics they didn't agree with. The disclaimer is already there but is just not on paper. But if Ashers wanted to respect their own beliefs, they needed to be very clear on the need to divorce themselves from any cake that endorses and urges people to support same sex marriage. They needed to find a way to bake the cake and be true to their beliefs. They needed a clear disclaimer - simple.

There is still no disclaimer so how can they say they respect gay people? No disclaimer means you will make any cake and even now they will not bake any gay cakes.

Conclusion

Ashers is a bigoted business and is a reflection of Christian bigotry and its polite ill-will. It is guilty of discrimination. And it is a worry that it has a wide level of support for its bigotry and its lies.