Culture: July 2014 Archives

Ashers Baking Co, a Christian-owned chain of bakeries in Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland, has been sent a letter from the Equality Commission for refusing an order to make a cake featuring a picture of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street, the message "Support Gay Marriage," and the logo of an organization called "Queerspace."

A customer placed an order for the cake on a Friday, staff at the location sent the request to headquarters for review, and on Monday, headquarters contacted the customer and advised him that they couldn't complete the order and he would be refunded his money. Six weeks later the company received a letter from the Equality Commission accusing Ashers of discriminating against the customer on the basis of his "sexual orientation."

Daniel McArthur (24), general manager at the Newtownabbey company which has been running since 1992 and employs 62 people, said Asher's had been founded by Christians, and the current directors are Christians.

"That means that we run our business according to Christian values and beliefs, according to what the Bible teaches. It means for example that we don't open on Sundays, that we trade openly and honestly with people," he said.

Mr McArthur said even the company's name was Biblical, as Asher was one of the 12 tribes of Israel. "It was a tribe that had gifted bakers," he added.

The cake was for an "anti-homophobia and transphobia" event hosted by the then-Mayor of North Down, Andrew Muir. Another baker, located in the same city as the event, filled the order. The nearest Ashers location, in Belfast, is 12 miles away, suggesting that Ashers was specially targeted for political reasons.

Northern Ireland has sometimes been called the Bible Belt of Europe. The Ulster Scots (also known as "Scotch Irish") who settled America's Bible Belt are descended from the same stock as the Protestants of modern Northern Ireland. Under the British constitution, England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland have different laws pertaining to marriage and family. Northern Ireland has not yet caved to the forces of libertinism but still maintains the civilized definition of marriage, the legislature having voted down three "gay marriage" bills in the last three years.

Since the discrimination charge doesn't match the facts of the case, it will be interesting to see how it is handled. Ashers didn't discriminate against the customer because of his "sexual orientation"; they discriminated against the words the customer wanted on the cake. Surely they would have refused the same order even if a customer of normal sexual desires had requested it. In a video message, Ashers general manager Daniel McArthur notes that the bakery has refused commissions involving indecent language and imagery.

Ashers has the support of the Christian Institute's Legal Defence Fund.

Recently, a friend suggested to me that American Christians would have to be cagey about objecting to "gay marriage." Rather than openly refusing service on moral grounds, he said that Christians should find other excuses. In this case, for example, the bakery might have said that they couldn't bake a cake featuring copyrighted characters. I replied that to do so was to surrender our freedom of conscience, which has to include the right to express our disapproval of immoral behavior. Also, as a practical matter, the cramdown artists" (see below) are zealous enough to investigate the validity of excuses. If a wedding photographer says she's already booked for the day of a "gay wedding," expect the diversity mutaween to stake out her house and studio that day for evidence that the excuse was bogus.


William Murchison writes that we have a duty to talk back to the "cramdown artists" seeking to coerce approval of their moral viewpoint:

What this country almost certainly doesn't need right now is more laws and regulations; but it doesn't necessarily need fewer laws and regulations, either. What we appear to need above all else is a deeper -- and that's not saying much -- understanding of the purposes for which a civilized society passes laws and enacts regulations. We need, in essence, moral instruction.

Eeek! "Moral instruction"? "Right" and "wrong"? By whose lights, whose standards? The contraception debate -- to the extent you call it a debate instead of a shouting match -- brings to mind these fundamental, yet generally skirted, issues. In 21st-century America, right and wrong are matters we hand over to the big guns in politics and -- alas -- the chattering profession, my own profession: the media. He who makes the loudest noises and wins the most elections gets to cram his views down the public's throat....

...the proprietors of viewpoints at variance with those of the cramdown artist have a duty only partially fulfilled. That duty is to speak back; to explain why the cramdown artists are morally off base, by widely, and historically held, standards. This task has not been performed well, or at all, partly -- such is my intuition -- because the cramdown artists get lathered up when their judgments meet with contradiction.

Too bad. The time for backtalk has come. In fact, it came a long time ago; we just didn't notice. Alas.

Former Conservative MP and Minister Ann Widdecombe writes in the Daily Express:

Surely it is an elementary feature of true democracy that nobody should be obliged by law to affirm that which he or she does not believe.

Yet Parliament was assured time and again that the introduction of gay marriage would not cause discrimination against those who believed it wrong. What price your assurances now, Mr Cameron?...

In a free country the baker should be able to refuse to take part in what is effectively PR for gay marriage in the knowledge that any customers who do not like that decision are free to buy their morning loaf elsewhere. But then it is a long time since Britain and freedom were synonymous.

Widdecombe reports on a letter from someone who was rejected as a foster parent "because she would not affirm that a gay relationship was on a par with a marriage between a man and a woman."

Presumably the powers that be would prefer a child to be shunted between homes as long as they are run by politically correct care workers than be placed in a loving environment with foster parents who do not sign up to state orthodoxy.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Culture category from July 2014.

Culture: February 2014 is the previous archive.

Culture: August 2014 is the next archive.

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