It must be tough when business and religion clash

It’s important to stand up for what you believe in, so I can understand why Ashers Baking Company of Northern Ireland felt it was important to say no to a group wanting a pro-gay marriage cake made.

the family-owned business is facing legal action for the the decision they made based on their religious principles.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, McArthur said that the decision was not intended to cause distress, but to follow what their faith says is says. “We are not discriminating against gay people. Our church’s definition of marriage is clear: It’s a covenant between a man and a woman, a 6,000-year-old tradition, which is ordained by God. Sexual activity outside marriage is a sin.”

I guess Daniel McArthur, the owner of the business, just has a different definition of “discrimination” than the rest of us. And he’s also ignoring 7 other types of marriage as listed in the bible. Click the link for more details but here’s the gist.

Man + Woman (arranged by family generally and rarely interfaith)
Man + Brother’s Widow (this is still technically Man + Woman, but another man’s woman)
Man + Woman + Concubines (the more the merrier?)
Rapist + Victim (Man + Woman but certainly not by her choice)
Man + Woman + Woman’s property (slaves in this case)
Soldier + Prisoner (a variation on the rape theme maybe?)
Man + Woman + Woman +… (like concubines but get less sex or more?)
Male slave + Female slave (get their own category because slaves aren’t quite human or what?)

Back to the bakery. Polls can gauge a mood but it’s easy to skew a poll to get the results you want. 2007 people answered an online survey about this case. THe Christian group funding the poll asked the following:

A family-run bakery in Northern Ireland has been threatened with legal action because it cancelled and refunded an order from a gay activist to decorate a gay-themed cake aimed at promoting gay marriage. It was not a wedding cake. The owners of the bakery made it clear that they were happy to serve gay or straight customers but that they objected to promoting gay marriage which is not legal in Northern Ireland. Do you agree or disagree with these statements about the case?

The Christian Institute is on the bakery’s side and summed up the results.

Only 21 per cent of those surveyed think a business that declines to supply goods or services which promote gay marriage should face legal action, while over half (56 per cent) disagree.

The poll also showed that most people (55 per cent) agree there should be protection in law so that people are not forced to provide goods or services that violate their sincerely-held beliefs.

Over half of voters (54 per cent) think that David Cameron was wrong when he reassured the public that same-sex marriage would not cause discrimination against supporters of traditional marriage.

Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, said: “These poll findings demonstrate huge public support for the Ashers bakery and they also demonstrate that David Cameron and the Equality Commission are completely out of touch with public opinion.

The BBC reports from the other side.

Alliance councillor Andrew Muir – who hosted the civic event for which the cake was ordered – said he fully supported the action taken against the bakery.

“Businesses should not be able to pick and choose who they serve,” Mr Muir said.

“There would not be any debate if the cake had depicted an anti-racism or anti-ageism slogan, nor should it require intervention from the Equality Commission for this cake for Anti-Homophobia Day.

“It is ridiculous for this bakery to suggest that they would have to endorse the campaign.”

The councillor, who hosted the event during his term as mayor of North Down, said another bakery in Bangor stepped in and accepted the cake order.

I can see the bakery’s side on this in terms of not wanting to advertise their name in connection with a group they disagree with but I agree with the councillor. I’m sure Northern Ireland doesn’t intend to become the western sister of Uganda in terms of the treatment of homosexuals. The tide is turning in much of the rest of the world toward granting more gay rights to civil unions and the like. The issue isn’t new to Northern Ireland. This is just the latest rights issue making headlines.

Hopefully I’ll remember to update as more news about this story becomes available.

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