A Victory for Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Conscience
In a unanimous decision by five judges the Supreme Court has upheld the appeal by Ashers Baking Co against a ruling that by refusing to produce a cake bearing the slogan ‘Support Gay Marriage’ the company unlawfully discriminated against Gareth Lee on the grounds of sexual orientation.
The ruling upholds free speech and prevents the law from forcing businesses to express views with which they profoundly disagree. Repeated throughout the judgment is the Court’s finding that the family’s objection “was to the message, not the messenger”.
In a statement given outside the court, Daniel McArthur, who has spearheaded the family firm’s fight for justice, said, “I want to start by thanking God. He has been with us during the challenges of the last four years. Through the Bible and the support of Christians, He has comforted us and sustained us. He is our rock and all His ways are just.”
The cost of the cake that Ashers declined to bake would have been £36.50; legal costs borne by the state-funded Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, which brought the original case against Ashers, were £250,000 and by the Christian Institute, which represented Ashers, £200,000.
We give glory to God for the outcome of this case and pray that its ramifications will be felt far and wide wherever Christian businesses are coming under pressure to compromise on what they believe and stand for. This has been a ‘David and Goliath’ case and we recall the words of David has he stood before the giant: “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands … that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and He will give you into our hands.”