‘Gay cake’ case: Daniel & Amy McArthur of Ashers Baking Company reveal controversial court action has strengthened their marriage and faith in God
The Christian Institute, Monday 1 February 2016
The couple at the centre of the ‘gay cake’ case have told how their legal battle with equality watchdogs has strengthened their marriage as well as their faith in God.
Ashers Baking Company go before the Court of Appeal in Belfast for a two day hearing on Wednesday February 3 and Thursday February 4 in a bid to overturn a decision made last year by the County Court which found they had broken political and sexual orientation discrimination laws.
The court ruled against Ashers, run by the McArthur family, who are Christians, for refusing to fulfil an order to make a £36.50 cake with a slogan supporting same-sex marriage because it conflicted with their deeply-held religious beliefs.
The company, which has several shops across Northern Ireland and supplies a wide variety of retail customers, is owned by Colin McArthur and his wife Karen.
Their son Daniel, 26, is General Manager of the firm.
And as they prepared for the latest court hearing Daniel and his wife Amy, also, 26, spoke in detail about the positive impact the case has had on their lives.
The couple who have two children, Robyn, aged three, and one-year-old Elia, also revealed how they have coped with the stress of the case which has attracted global media attention since the order was turned down in May 2014.
Daniel is optimistic the appeal court will rule in their favour and said of the decision to reject the order:
“It was clear we did not hate anyone. We didn’t want to discriminate against anyone. We did what we did because of our Christian beliefs.
“It’s done out of love for God, to obey Him.”
Criticising the decision by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland to use the full power of the state and public funds to take the family to court, Daniel added:
“The way the Equality Commission handled it was very one-sided. They wanted to pursue it with everything they had. They wanted to take us to court, maybe teach us a lesson or send out a signal. The signal they were trying to send out was ‘if you’re a Christian don’t bring it into work’.”
Graphic designer Amy, who has been at her husband’s side throughout, emphasised that the couple are guided in everything they do by their religious beliefs and love of God.
Speaking about the crucial importance of her faith, she said:
“It is my life. It isn’t just something I just do at church. If they think it’s unfashionable, if they think it’s culturally irrelevant, that doesn’t matter to me. What matters to me is that I live my life as best I can according to God’s commands and His word.”
Amy added: “This case has been a blessing in our marriage.
“God has used this to strengthen our marriage and our relationship with God.
“We have to trust in him and we have seen him answer our prayers time and time again.”
Daniel insists the family has done nothing wrong and acted simply according to the teaching of the Bible regarding marriage.
He added: “Our hope and prayer would be that an appeal will allow us and other Christians to live out their faith in Jesus Christ in every part of their lives, including their workplace.”
Ashers has suffered some minor acts of vandalism on their premises since the case first came to light but the company has not suffered financially.
Daniel said: “There have been no adverse effects on the business.”
Explaining how the initial hearing impacted on the family, Amy said:
“We found out we were going to court the week Elia was born that was a particularly difficult time.
“Day to day, I’m usually so busy changing nappies and wiping runny noses
I don’t think about it too much although it’s always at the back of my mind.
“I found the court case a difficult time. I would be quite shy and was very out of my comfort zone. In the clips outside the courthouse I was incredibly nervous but God has not promised us a comfortable life.
“He has said he will never leave or forsake us and in the most uncomfortable circumstances I have found that to be true. He gave me the strength just when I needed it.”
Daniel added: “A lesson we’ve learned is that at the start yes we were worried and anxious. But if you came to me and you said would we go through it again, I would say yes.
“And I would say to other Christians facing pressure at work or in public life don’t be afraid to take your Christian stand because we’ve learned God is with you in all of it and he gives you the grace to stand against these trials and challenges.”
He added: “It definitely puts you in a position where you say: ‘I can’t do this by myself’.
“It’s really encouraging to hear about people we know supporting us, praying for us just taking a general stand for what we have done.
“It’s even more encouraging when it’s people we have never met and don’t know and hear about it through someone else. That is a real boost.”
A ComRes poll conducted in March 2015 of 1,000 adults in Northern Ireland found that 90 per cent of voters say equality laws “should be used to protect people from discrimination and not to force people to say something they oppose”.
In the same poll, more than three quarters (79 per cent) stated that a Muslim printer should not be taken to court for refusing to print cartoons of Mohammed. And almost three quarters (74 per cent) believe a printing company run by Roman Catholics should not be forced by legal action to produce adverts calling for abortion to be legalised.