Ashers: We thank God for sustaining us through trial
Tue, 31 Mar 2015
Daniel McArthur yesterday praised God for sustaining his family throughout Ashers Baking Company’s three-day trial.
It also emerged on Monday that the taxpayer-funded Equality Commission for Northern Ireland had increased its set-aside funds for the case to £40,000.
The Commission took the Christian-run bakery to court because it declined to produce a pro-gay marriage campaign cake.
Ashers is being given legal support by The Christian Institute’s Legal Defence Fund, and last week thousands of people showed their backing for the family at an event in the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.
Speaking outside the Belfast court yesterday at the end of the three-day hearing, Daniel said: “We’re grateful that the case has now concluded. We’re very thankful for all those who have supported us.
“It’s been a stressful time for our family, but most of all we’re thankful that God has sustained us through it all and we now await the verdict and the outcome from the judge.”
Judge Isobel Brownlie will now consider the arguments before giving a ruling which is not expected for a number of weeks.
Speaking in court, Ashers’ QC David Scoffield said producing the cake would have gone against the “deeply-held religious beliefs” of the McArthur family.
Scoffield also referred to similar scenarios to those put forward by Aidan O’Neill QC in a legal opinion that laid out possible consequences of a defeat for Ashers.
The legal opinion suggested that a Muslim printer who refused to print cartoons of Mohammed would have no defence.
However, Robin Allen, the Equality Commission’s QC, said if a Muslim printer did not want to print such cartoons then he should stop printing all other cartoons.
Before the trial Michael Wardlow, the head of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, claimed that Christians who want to run their businesses according to their beliefs should either “look at the law” or change career.
However a spokesman for The Christian Institute said Wardlow was “seriously mistaken about the Ashers case”.
The spokesman added: “The McArthurs knew nothing about whether the customer who ordered the cake was gay or heterosexual – they simply do not want to be forced to promote a cause with which they fundamentally disagree.
“It is also outrageous for the head of the Equality Commission himself to imply that Christians who want to live their lives according to their deeply-held beliefs must toe the line or change jobs.
“This is a free speech issue, and the Commission does not seem to recognise that the law should not force a person to endorse something that goes against their deeply-held beliefs and values.”