Friday, November 7, 2014

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Buyer Beware - Christians at Prayer

Not much to agree with Sinn Fein on these days but Catriona Ruane last night on The View was firmly on the money in her solid defence of the right of gay people not to be discriminated against by the religious opinion of others. Teamed up with Gavin Boyd of the Rainbow Project, both seemed much more surefooted than the religious alliance of the priest and the politician, Tim Bartlett and Nigel Dodds.

The issue under discussion was the fruit cake - if I may be facetious and trust that the gays have a sense of humour too: they would need to, having to put up with the sour faced bible thumpers they must encounter in their lives – that Ashers the bakers refused to sell to a member of the gay community because the gay insignia the buyer requested was not in line with the Christian beliefs or prejudices of the owners. What better publicity for the promoters of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia than to have this happen. But there you go, god works in mysterious ways.

Defending the company stance Ashers general manager Daniel McArthur said marriage in Northern Ireland "still is defined as being a union between one man and one woman" and that his company was taking:
a stand ... 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.
Apart from this being what sounds like a statement of intent to wage aggressive religion, the bible teaches lots of things including rape, child murder, and genocide so it is a good thing that much of what society values today is at odds with that scurrilous piece of man made literature. Particularly so, the Old Testament where murderous old god is one compelling reason for his non existence outside of the minds of those who can only fear rather than love him. People need protected from what the bible teaches, not have the law shaped so that it might be easier inflicted upon them.

Ashers now faces a legal action initiated by the Equality Commission. The Christian Institute, a firm upholder of a wide range of reactionary perspectives is backing the bakers.  The battle  lines are being drawn as the crusaders for Christ stand at the ready to smite down a few gay devils insisting on their rights. We can only hope the crusade does not reach that other high point of Christian love, The Inquisition. History is awash with lessons that men recruiting god to their cause can work in mysterious ways too.

The general principle the Christians seem to be defending is one expressed by Mr McArthur:
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.

Nigel Dodds and Tim Bartlett  were ardently going along with this side of specious reasoning.  Republicans have long talked about the unity of Catholic and Protestants but this acidic alliance is not quite what they had in mind. Bartlett seemed a nasty piece of Christian work, having decided to disengage from working with gay groups until they give into Christian prejudice. He argued that religious belief is protected by the law and was not on a par with a mere footballing opinion in response to Gavin Boyd's more sensible contentions, and insisted that others 'respect my right not to be coerced, not to be forced to do something against my conscience in society".

Fine, if his conscience is not someone else's cross. Christians are allowed freedom of conscience: they can think whatever they want. They simply seem unable to abide by a simple rule that enables everybody to get by: practice your religion on yourself but not on anybody else. People who don’t practice the Christian religion have a right in the public sphere not to have it practiced on them, whether in chemists, hotels or bakeries.

Ultimately, the law should protect but never prioritise religious opinion. Such protection is enshrined in law because religious belief has been violently suppressed throughout the ages usually by some other religious belief. The protection of religion by the law is not meant to deny others protection from religion.

The Equality Commission is now screening its own take on Love/Hate, with Nidge and Tim pitted against Bert and Ernie.

9 comments :

frankie said...

Nolan was talking about the Bert & Ernie cake yesterday too..

Huge row as "gay cake" case heads for court

callers react to cake row

Cakes, Christians and a matter of conscience

Wolfsbane said...

I'm amazed at the lack of logic in this article - or perhaps I misunderstand the author's position.

It would make sense if he held that an atheist baker is obliged to decorate a cake with 'God is real', or a Nationalist baker a cake with 'Ulster is British'. Is that the case?

If not, then let me point out that the individual in the Asher's case and in the above cases were not refused service on the basis of their religious, gender or political views - the nature of the cake was the issue. Let them order a cake that does not conflict with the views of the bakers and it will be fulfilled.

Even more, should a heterosexual order the cake in the Asher case, he/she would also have been refused. And in the hypothetical cases I offered, a theist or a Unionist ordering the same theist or Unionist cake would be refused.

No difference was made between individuals on any basis.

Wolfsbane said...

Penultimate para should read 'or a Nationalist'.

mal higgins said...

Wolfbane.

I actually surprised at the lack of logic in your contribution. The person who ordered the cake where discriminated against because of what was depicted on the cake eg 2 males holding hands and it’s fair to assume that this would indicate their sexuality. Your added suggestion that the person ordering the card should have order a cake that does not conflict with the baker’s views is also a non-starter . How do we know the bakers views ? Unless off course the baker views have been written down and are hanging in the shop window along with the price list.

Mal

frankie said...

Wolfie,

What religion is God?

Wolfsbane said...

mal higgins said:
'I actually surprised at the lack of logic in your contribution. The person who ordered the cake where discriminated against because of what was depicted on the cake eg 2 males holding hands and it’s fair to assume that this would indicate their sexuality.'

So? If it had been 'Up the UVF' that would have indicated their political opinion. Are you saying a baker must do such a cake because it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of one's political opinion?

'Your added suggestion that the person ordering the card should have order a cake that does not conflict with the baker’s views is also a non-starter . How do we know the bakers views ? Unless off course the baker views have been written down and are hanging in the shop window along with the price list.'

I've no problem with him trying to order it. Once the baker declines on a proper basis - as this was - he must accept that.

Same goes for the other Scenarios I offered. You haven't commented on those - it would be helpful for our understanding of each other if you did:
Do you hold that atheist baker is obliged to decorate a cake with 'God is real', or a Nationalist baker a cake with 'Ulster is British'.

Wolfsbane said...

frankie said:
'What religion is God?'

God is God - true religion is the worship of Him alone. He worships no one.

mal higgins said...

Morning Wolfsbane.

If a person went into a bakers and ordered a cake with the words “Up the UVF” on it, you could assume they would not be from a Republican perspective.

I’m leaving this discussion as it is going around in circles and I have better things to do with my life.

Mal

Wolfsbane said...

mal higgins:
'If a person went into a bakers and ordered a cake with the words “Up the UVF” on it, you could assume they would not be from a Republican perspective.'

Indeed. But the question is, Are they obliged to make the cake? Should a nationalist or republican baker not have the right to refuse to make a slogan that was opposed to their beliefs? I say they do - and Asher's have the same rights.

Now if the nationalist or republican baker refused to bake a cake because it was for a Unionist or loyalist, then that would be illegal. Same if Asher's refused to bake a cake because it was for a homosexual.

'I’m leaving this discussion as it is going around in circles and I have better things to do with my life.'

Hopefully I have straightened out your curve and you can see where the real argument leads. We are agreed on not discriminating against folk because of their sex, orientation, race, politics, etc.