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The Word on the Week

The Icing on the Cake

Not any old icing but one that is highly provocative for those who hold the contrary view. The caption to be written on the icing was “Support Gay Marriage”. Gareth Lee a Gay activist from the local organisation called ‘queer space’, who ordered the cake, cannot be accused of being subtle!

The bakery was founded in 1992 by the McArthur family who chose the name ‘Ashers’ after one of the 12 tribes of Israel. When the Patriarch Jacob was blessing his sons prior to his death his blessing for Asher was ‘Asher’s food shall be rich bread and royal delicacies’ (Genesis Chapter 49 verse 20). What an excellent name for a Christian bakery!

In refusing to produce a cake with a caption affirming a lifestyle which they disagreed with the bakers were simply exercising their rights. Previously they had declined to produce cakes with lewd images or foul language written on them so in refusing the Gay Cake they were being consistent with their normal practice. However the Equality Commission appear to believe that they were discriminating against Gareth Lee. The bakery has said repeatedly that they have no problem with this man but their problem lies with the message he was asking them to promote.

The case comes before the Court on Thursday, March 26th, when we will see if the meaning of such words as ‘equality’, ‘discrimination, tolerance and ‘conscience’ have changed. Much hangs on the outcome of this case. If it goes against the bakery the award of punitive damages could put the firm out of business. It would also send a strong message to all Christian businesses that the outworking of their faith may result in conflict with the law and result in penalties or imprisonment.

There are echoes of St Peter who by exercising his right to free speech fell foul of the Sanhedrin and was ordered never to preach in the name of Jesus again (Acts Chapter 4 verse 17). Those early disciples would not have been taken by surprise at this as they would have remembered Christ’s warning “If they persecute me, they will also persecute you” (St John Chapter 15 verse 20). Their reaction was clear and instant, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Act Chapter 4 verses 19/20).

A conscience tutored by God’s word in a person who is indwelt by the Holy Spirit will never support non-Christian practices. The Equality Commission needs to interpret the law giving equal rights to those who follow God’s word. Thursday will be an interesting day.