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.”


Pakistan Supreme Court Reserves Judgment in Aasia Bibi Case

Today, 8 October, the Supreme Court of Pakistan reserved judgment in the blasphemy case lodged against death-row convict Aasia Bibi.

Bibi,  a mother of four, became the first woman to be sentenced to death when she was convicted of blasphemy in November 2010.

Her case has outraged Christians worldwide and been a source of division within Pakistan, where two politicians who sought to help Bibi were assassinated, including Punjab governor Salman Taseer, who was shot by his own bodyguard.

The ultra-religious Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) party, which makes punishing blasphemy its main campaign rallying cry and lionises the bodyguard who killed Taseer, warned the court against any “concession or softness” for Bibi.

“If there is any attempt to hand her over to a foreign country, there will be terrible consequences,” TLP said in a statement.

During the two hours, 45 minutes hearing, a three-judge special bench highlighted several discrepancies in the statements of prosecution and court witnesses in the case.

An expert in criminal law, Justice Khosa noted that the prosecution case was weak due to discrepancies in the statements of their witnesses. The statements, he observed, lacked details about the quarrel between Aasia and the accusers.

Justice Khosa pointed out that there were two versions about the filing of the complaint: the first one said the application was given to police near a river while the second stated that the application was submitted in a police station.

Bibi was sentenced to death for allegedly making derogatory remarks about Islam after neighbours objected to her drinking water from their glass because she was not Muslim.

Bibi has always denied blaspheming and her representatives have claimed she was involved in a dispute with her neighbours and that her accusers had contradicted themselves.

Based on reports by The Express Tribune and Reuters.

Please Pray for the Victims of the Indonesian Earthquake and Tsunami

844 confirmed dead, mass graves being prepared for 1,300, thousands homeless, 34 children killed in a Christian camp, survivors looting shops for food and water, 1,200 escaped prisoners on the loose.

What devastation, what horror.

What can we do?

  1. Our first response must be to pray for the survivors, the bereaved and the rescue workers.
  2. We can give, for example to World Vision, who already have personnel on the ground assessing how best to respond.
  3. And we can go on believing in a good and gracious God, who sent His Son to suffer and die for a fallen world and who one day will bring a new heaven and a new earth.

At least 20 dead, 100 missing, thousands homeless following Laos dam collapse

One of a network of dams in the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydroelectric power project in Laos has collapsed, resulting in deaths, injuries and widespread flooding affecting thousands of families.

On 26 July, the Stung Treng provincial authority was working around the clock to evacuate about 25,000 residents in its Siem Pang district affected by flooding from the collapsed dam. The Sekong River water level, directly fed by the flooding, had reached 11.98 m at 10:30 am on 26 July, inundating 17 villages of four communes in the district.

Please pray for the families affected and those trying to help them.

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