Presbyterians’ concern ahead of Ashers court verdict

Daniel McArthur (general manager Ashers bakery) with his family and supporters at Laganside Court in Belfast.'Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Daniel McArthur (general manager Ashers bakery) with his family and supporters at Laganside Court in Belfast.'Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

The court verdict on Ashers’ refusal to bake a cake with a pro-gay marriage slogan will be of “intense interest and concern” when it is revealed this week, said a former moderator.

Rev Dr Norman Hamilton said the judge’s decision in the case – which was taken by the Equality Commission after one of the company’s bakeries cancelled the order of a gay activist – will undoubtedly upset either party.

Dr Hamilton is the Presbyterian Convenor of the Council for Church in Society.

He said the church’s leaders would be meeting to discuss the ramifications of Tuesday’s judgement, whatever the outcome.

When the decision to take Ashers to court was originally announced last year, Dr Hamilton described it as, “a catastrophic failure of public leadership by a well funded public body”.

The McArthur family who own Ashers have been supported throughout the court proceedings by the Christian Institute. Simon Calvert of the non-denominational charity said church groups have been praying for the McArthurs as they prepare for the judgement at Belfast County Court.

“I have heard many reports of churches where they have included the McArthur family in their prayers, and the McArthur family themselves have heard the reports and have been very touched by them,” Mr Calvert said.

“There is a lot riding on the outcome of the case for everybody involved and we are profoundly thankful to God when we hear that Christians are praying for them.”

Commenting on whether the Institute or the McArthurs would get any advance notice of the judge’s decision, Mr Calvert said: “The McArthur family, and the lawyers, and the journalists, and the public, will all find out at the exactly the same time, when the judge reads it out in court.

“We will all be on tenterhooks.”