We should never assume that the freedom we enjoy in this country are rights which can be taken for granted.
As I have pointed out many times in this column they are continually under attack by the intolerant forces of left wing, politically correct bigots who present themselves as enlightened liberals but who in reality are intolerant, single-minded attackers of everyone and everything which does not conform to their views.
This was brought home to me when I attended a meeting of nearly 1,000 people organised by the Christian Institute last Saturday night. The organisation carries out research into how legislation impacts on Christians, organises lobbying of MPs and provides advice to those who find themselves persecuted because of their Christian beliefs.
One of the speakers was Hazelmary Bull, B&B owner who had been prosecuted for not allowing a homosexual couple use a double bed in her home because, as a Christian, she believed it was morally wrong.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission took a case against her. She was fined £3,600, she lost her three star accreditation from the Tourist Board which for years had never questioned the policy she had never hidden; her business and customers were attacked; threats were made to her life; wheel nuts were loosened on her husband’s car and a live rabbit was nailed to her gatepost. The weight of the state and bigotry of those who, demanded tolerance for their lifestyles and beliefs, while refusing the Bulls the right to their views, were directed against this couple.
The thing which struck me as I spoke to her afterwards was her ordinariness. She was not some fired up, campaigning, firebrand zealot. She was an ordinary woman who had a deep Christian faith. She didn’t even have angry words of condemnation for those who had ruined her business, vilified her and threatened her life. I was humbled by her graciousness and fortitude. I sympathised with her for the trials she had faced and I think her reply will live with me for a long time. I saw a tear in her eye behind her thick-rimmed glasses as she replied, “it would have been far harder to face Jesus when I meet Him in heaven and explain why I had not stood up for Him.”
Such simple faith is an anachronism in the secular world in which we now live. For the cynical so called intellectuals of today it is a throwback to the dark ages which in their arrogance they demand we should be liberated from. For the aggressive atheistic secularists it is something to be stamped out and unfortunately they have now captured organs of the state to assist them in their quest.
In Northern Ireland of course the Equality Commission is the willing accomplice. The gay rights lobby are using it as a battering ram in the case against Ashers Bakery. Should this case succeed, then there is not a Christian business which will be exempt from having to promote messages which they may find offensive and contrary to their beliefs.
Make no doubt about it they will be targeted by those hell bent on attacking people for their faith.
If we are to maintain the claim to be a tolerant society then it is essential that there are safeguards to prevent the use of current laws against victims such as the Bulls and the McArthur’s (Ashers Bakery owners). That is why my party has promoted freedom of conscience legislation. Significantly, Baroness Hale one of the judges who ruled against the Bulls, has now stated that she believes such a law is needed to protect Christians.
The so-called “liberals” such as Naomi Long of the Alliance party to that well-known champion of liberty Catriona Ruane of Sinn Fein have joined the campaign against such legislation. I trust that all freedom loving people regardless of their faith will respond positively to the consultation (which closes on February 27, 2015) by writing to Paul Given MLA at DUP Headquarters Dundela Avenue Belfast.