The Appeal Court ruling in the Ashers bakery case is a serious blow not only for Christians and those who hold to Christian moral standards, but for all who cherish fundamental democratic values such as civil and religious liberty and freedom of conscience.
It is extensive in its analysis of the law but it seems to me to be lacking in common sense.
I don’t often agree with gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, but he has hit the nail on the head when he says that the verdict is a defeat for freedom of expression and that it sets a dangerous and authoritarian precedent.
The ruling has very serious ramifications for businesses, and I suspect that anyone with a mischievous religious, moral or political agenda will now be considering how best to capitalize on it. Whatever happened to the old adage about management having the right to decline custom? Now, the customer can, it seems, demand whatever he or she wants, and a business will have few grounds upon which to refuse to comply.
But the ruling also has ramifications for society in general. It is simply not right to force anyone to promote an agenda with which they disagree. We are on a sinister path which, in the name of “equality”, will lead instead to gross inequality and a denial of the human right to hold to Biblical principles in the public square. Such an outcome would be disastrous for society as a whole.
I commend Daniel McArthur and the other members of his family for the dignified manner in which they have handled the stress and strain of the prolonged legal process and for their gracious and measured response to the result of the appeal. T
hey have shown commendable restraint in the face of considerable provocation and misrepresentation, and I want to assure them of my continued prayers and support as they, along with their legal advisers in the Christian Institute, consider the next step.
John Finlay, DUP councillor