BELFAST — Thousands in Ireland rallied on Wednesday in support of a Christian bakery that is fighting a civil lawsuit after it declined to make a Bert and Ernie cake that bore the phrase “support gay marriage.”
As previously reported, in May of last year, Ashers Baking Company in Newtonabbey—founded by Christians and named after Genesis 49:20—was approached by a same-sex “marriage” supporter to bake the cake, which also was to feature the logo for the homosexual advocacy group QueerSpace. According to the Belfast Telegraph, the cake was for an event in observance of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
Karen McArthur, the mother of manager Daniel McArthur, 24, initially accepted the order as she didn’t want the man to feel embarrassed. But as the matter was discussed with other family members, it was agreed upon that they could not go through with putting the message on the cake in good conscience before God. Daniel McArthur told reporters that the company contacted the customer and offered a refund, explaining that same-sex “marriage” is against their Christian beliefs.
However, the customer, Gareth Lee, soon reported Ashers Baking Company to the Equality Commission of Northern Ireland, which in turn sent a warning to to McArthur, stating that he and his bakery had discriminated against Lee. Same-sex “marriage” is not legal in Northern Ireland, although laws have been passed throughout the rest of the UK.
Last November, the Commission ordered the bakery to pay compensation or face legal action. As the McArthur’s refused, the case has now moved forward in court.
On Wednesday, thousands rallied at Waterfront Hall in Belfast in support of the McArthurs, filling the venue to capacity. According to reports, all of the 2,500 seats were filled, and hundreds more who could not get in stood outside singing hymns.
“We believe our loyalty to God is greater than anything else,” one supporter from Dundonald Presbyterian Church told the BBC.
The following day, the McArthurs appeared in court to give an answer as to why they could not fulfill Lee’s order.
“We felt as Christians we could not in conscience put it on a cake. We believe the business is being given to us by God and how we use it is on our shoulders,” Daniel McArthur said on the stand. “Our Christian faith is [of] the utmost importance to us. It is how we run our entire lives and bring our families up. Before God, it is not something we could do.”
“That’s why I said to Mum, ‘Regardless, as Christians we are bound by what we believe,'” he explained.
His mother made similar remarks to the court.
“We seek to live at all times in accordance with the doctrines and teachings of the Bible. I have been a born-again Christian since I was seven. I love the Lord and I seek to please him in the way I live my life,” Karen McArthur said. “We discussed how we could stand before God and bake a cake like this promoting a case like this.”
Asher’s Bakery has stated that it is willing to serve homosexuals in general—one would not know about another’s sexual behavior unless they had requested a cake for such reasons—but should not be forced to decorate cakes with messages that urge others to “support gay marriage” in violation of their faith.
Photo: BBC News screenshot