Following the controversial story that Asher’s Baking Company in Northern Ireland refused to make a cake with a slogan supporting gay marriage, David Cameron has told MPs that tolerance towards people of different sexualities is an important part of being British.

The Christian owners of the County Antrim bakery refused to make the cake requested by a gay rights activist, who wanted the Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie, with the logo of a Belfast-based campaign group called “Queerspace” featured on the cake. But it could face legal action from the Equality Commission for refusing to make the cake, ordered for a civic event in Bangor Castle Town Hall to mark International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia.

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The firm’s General Manager, Daniel McArthur, points out that marriage in Northern Ireland is “defined as being a union between one man and one woman” and said his company was taking “a stand”. In an online statement, Mr McArthur said;

The directors and myself looked at it and considered it and thought that this order was at odds with our beliefs. It certainly was at odds with what the Bible teaches, and we rang the customer to let him know that we couldn’t take his order.”

Gregory Campbell, MP for East Londonderry, wants to see a conscience clause in equality legislation. He spoke after PMQs on Wednesday, saying “There have been a number of cases across the United Kingdom where so-called equality legislation has impeded the ability of people to uphold their religious beliefs. This latest case locally has seen a family-owned bakery threatened by legal action because they would not print a political slogan onto a cake. Such a message ran contrary to the company’s Christian values. It is disappointing that the prime minister would not comment on the need for religious freedom to be protected through the introduction of a conscience clause.” He added;

“Tolerance needs to be a two-way street, but this case highlights that currently those who cannot support a particular political campaign may find themselves forced before the courts. That is totally unacceptable.”

Mr McArthur agreed, saying “I would like the outcome of this to be that, any Christians running a business could be allowed to follow their Christian beliefs and principles in the day-to-day running of their business and that they are allowed to make decisions based on that.”

The problem with introducing a conscience clause is that people with different personal beliefs would be allowed to openly discriminate. There could be a slippery slope effect with various groups of people. It could lead to Doctors refusing to perform abortions due to religious beliefs, if the conscience clause allows them to do this. This was seen recently in the America, where in the Pro-Life Hobby Lobby case. Although something as harrowing as abortion is not the same as making a cake for marriage equality.

However, not everyone agrees with the Bakery’s attitude. Although not specifically about this particular case, Conservative pundit Erick Erickson said that;

“Jesus Christ would absolutely bake a cake for a gay person. If any Christian owns a bakery or a florist shop or a photography shop or a diner, then they should no more be allowed to deny service to a gay person than to a black person.”gaycake

The UK is becoming an increasingly secular, multi-cultural and diverse society, and companies have to start adhering to legislation that ensures a positive attitude equality. The government is not asking people to change their religious beliefs, but encouraging people with religious beliefs not to impose their beliefs in a way that will negatively affect other people. If the Bakery really did not want to participate in this cause, they could have recommended a company that would.

In terms of this cake being for a civic event, the company is not entirely in the wrong by deciding not to get involved if it is an affront to their personal beliefs. Although, the Bakery could be in the wrong in that supplying a cake to an event does not signify one’s endorsement of its contents. It indicates that they are attributing a value judgement to a cake for an event that they are not personally affiliated with and would not directly affect them. In this case, it seems that the Bakery is acting in a discriminating manner. This would definitely be the case if they refused to make a cake for a gay couple’s wedding due to religious beliefs.

The Bible does not directly address the issues of sexual orientation or homosexual marriage. The passages where homosexuality are referred to, and the context in which they were intended, are often misinterpreted. In Sodom and Gomorra, two angels disguised as men came to Sodom, where the men of the city threaten to rape them. The angels blinded the men, and God destroyed the city out of anger for the threat of rape, not judgement of same sex relations. In Leviticus, which labels men lying with men as an “abomination”, also labels charging interest in loans, sex with a menstruating woman and eating pork, rabbit and shellfish as “abominations”.

These are parts of Old Testament, which was fulfilled by Jesus, and the Bible refers to Christ as the end of the law, rendering Old Testament law redundant. In Romans in the New Testament, Paul condemns lustful homosexual behaviour, not love, commitment or faithfulness in homosexual relationships. Description of same sex behaviour in this passage is between adult men and adolescent boys, masters and slaves and in prostitution. Most men doing this were married to women. It condemns infidelity, gluttony and drunkenness and is an entirely different context to loving homosexual relationships. Paul also said men wearing their hair long is unnatural, which many believe is a reference to cultural conventions. Taking this into account, refusing to make a cake for a marriage equality event under the guise of religion seems very backward thinking.

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After all, it is the Bakery that may get a negative reputation and lose profits. Perhaps they should have looked to the Golden Rule of Jesus and treat others how they would wish to be treated.

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  • rose B
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    Jesus would not bake the cake, sorry you are wrong.
    You have misunderstood the Bible and what it says about homosexuality, you have picked something you can twist to suit your point of view.
    The new testament says (KJV) Leviticus 18:22 – Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it [is] abomination.
    “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads” (Leviticus 20:13).
    “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion” (Romans 1:26-27) and so on.

    Jesus said ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’ – God loves everyone, He loves homosexuals, He hates homosexuality -the sexual act.
    I have homosexual friends, I am a Christian, they know I do not agree with homosexuality and they aren’t in my face trying to force their belief on me; they know of my religion and I don’t try to force my belief on them.
    They wouldn’t be happy about me preaching the Bible in their houses, I wouldn’t let them practise homosexual acts in mine.
    I support the Baker 100% and actually so do my homosexual friends.
    Believe it or not we (my ‘gay’ friends included) know of homosexuals who do deliberatly target (mainly small) Christian B&B’s – they think it is really funny to abuse the owners and demand a double bed, they spout that the law is on their side and they will win ‘loads in compensation’ after being refused a bed -they do this almost as a hobby.
    Homosexuals I know hate this type of behaviour, it just causes more bad feeling, usually against them.
    Homosexuals I know don’t feel the need to persecute others for fun.
    Most people don’t agree with homosexuality, this isn’t the same as being homophobic (how many people are really frightened of homosexuals-get a life). We are fully entitled to our opinion.
    By the way, this bakery (and Christian B&B’s) don’t lose business, we, the majority make sure of it.

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    Rebecca Lake
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    I wondered how long it would take. The irony of you telling me that I am twisting the Bible to suit my point of view is ridiculous. Isn’t that what the extremely religious have been doing for hundreds of years?

    Sorry, but people who interpret the Bible this way use bigotry wrapped in religion to hate certain groups of people. Bigotry wrapped in religion is still bigotry.

    Jesus is all about loving people. He would not only have baked the cake, he would have high-fived the people he was baking it for too. He helped those in society who were oppressed, misjudged and hated, and was there for them. He would not condemn anybody for being in a loving, monogamous, consenting adult relationship, regardless of the gender of those involved. I feel that there are far worse people to condemn. As pointed out, what else is an abomination? Charging interest in loans, cutting your hair, eating pork, rabbit and shell fish and having any kind of sexual contact with a menstruating women. How many of those things do Christians protest about?

    Yes, Christians, as with anyone else are entitled to their beliefs – however wacky – the government are not trying to stop you believing what you want to believe. They are trying to stop the kind of attitude that would cause oppression to a particular group of people based on something that is absolutely no-one else’s business. This whole article is about an MP wanting to discuss a Conscience Clause in cases like this. But I am still of the opinion that refusing a service to someone because they are gay is bigoted and incites hate. Regardless if the bakers are right then it is God’s place to judge them, not the members of the bakery. As I said before, if they really did not want to get involved, they could have turned a positive spin on it and suggested another bakery that would help the cause.

    I think you’ll also find that a lot people neither agree nor disagree with homosexuality – they are fully aware that it is none of their business. And that does not account for the people that do believe homosexual couples should have exactly the same rights are straight couples.

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    Matthew Warren
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    I think Jesus would be fine with baking a cake for a homosexual couple, especially as he “healed” a homosexual in Bible (according to Matthew 8 and Luke 7). The story goes something like this (it’s not in Leviticus, so some Christians may not be aware of it). A centurion (kind of like an officer, in charge of roughly 80 men) brought his male slave (or servant, depending on the translation) unto Jesus, begging him to save his slave’s life, saying his slave is “valued highly”. Very few common slaves were worth much to their owners, only the tutors and sex slaves. With the indication being that the slave is on the younger side, this rules out him being a tutor, thus leaving the only likely role being a sex slave. In Matthew’s account, the word pais is used to describe the slave, and according to James Neill and Daniel A. Helminiak, this is used with sexual connotations. The Greek word “doulos” (a slave) used of him in Luke’s account suggests he may have been a sex slave. Therefore, Jesus healed a sick homosexual male on request of a homosexual male who loved his slave with NO JUDGEMENTS.

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