The Christian Institute

News Release

‘Gay cake’ case: “We’ll tell our children God is worth making a stand for,” Amy McArthur’s pledge as Ashers Baking Co prepares to mount court appeal

The wife of the bakery manager at the centre of the ‘gay cake’ case has told how the two-year ordeal has been worth it, despite the difficulties linked to the controversy.

Mother-of-two Amy McArthur spoke out ahead of the latest court hearing which gets under way on Monday (9 May 2016).

Amy has been at the side of her husband Daniel, General Manager of the Ashers Baking Company, throughout. She said:

“It is a difficult experience – being taken to court for your faith – even when you know you’re in the right. I have to be honest about that. But that’s where we’ll find ourselves again next week.

“Some people might wonder if it’s worth it but we know it’s right that we make this stand.”

The couple have two young daughters, Robyn and Elia. Amy said: “Our children are too young to understand right now what’s going on with all this here.

“But when they do we want them to know our God is worth making a stand for. We’re still trusting in His good and perfect purposes. He’s in control.”

Ashers Baking Company goes before the Court of Appeal in Belfast on Monday 9 May in a bid to overturn a decision made last year by the County Court which found it 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.

Graphic designer Amy has emphasised that the couple are guided in everything they do by their religious beliefs and love of God.

Speaking previously 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.

“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 said:

“The County Court judgment was disappointing but we’re hoping and praying that these judges will recognise what’s at stake and decide to protect our freedom to express our Christian beliefs.”

The appeal hearing takes place exactly two years to the day that the order for the cake was placed on 9 May 2014.

A previous hearing scheduled for February was delayed following a last-minute intervention from the Attorney General – a clear indication of the legal significance of the case.

Simon Calvert, spokesman for The Christian Institute, which is backing the case said:

“We have a strong case and are looking forward to being able to put that case in court next week.

“We know there are huge numbers of people around the country who, even if they don’t support the McArthurs’ beliefs on marriage do not think they should be compelled to promote views that go against those beliefs.

“We’re hopeful that the Lord Chief Justice and his colleagues on the bench will take the same view.”

Ashers Baking Company is owned by Colin McArthur and his wife Karen. Their son Daniel, 26, is General Manager.

After the initial court hearing in March 2015, involving a civil action taken against the company by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, the Belfast County Court found that the company had unlawfully discriminated against a customer by declining to decorate a cake with the slogan “Support Gay Marriage”.

The case was vigorously defended by Ashers. The company, again supported by The Christian Institute, is now mounting an appeal which is scheduled to be heard in the Court of Appeal in Belfast starting on Monday 9 May and which is expected to last several days.

More than 16,000 people have signed a Christian Institute petition in support of the McArthur family.

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.

CALLING NOTICE: 0930 MONDAY 9 MAY 2016

Royal Courts of Justice, Chichester Street, Belfast, BT1 3JF, opposite the Waterfront Hall. Daniel McArthur will be outside the court. You are invited to be represented by a reporter, photographer or film crew.

During the hearing the following are available for comment at the court:

Simon Calvert, The Christian Institute, 07802 796512

Dr Sharon James, Coalition for Marriage, 07738 355791

Also available for comment:

Peter Lynas, Evangelical Alliance, 07899 898066

ENDS

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

  1. Ashers Baking Company is being assisted by The Christian Institute, a non-denominational national charity which since 1991 has been working on issues including religious liberty, marriage and the family.
  2. Ashers Baking Company Limited was set up in 1992 by Colin and Karen McArthur, who are the owners and directors.
  3. The McArthurs’ son, Daniel, is the company’s General Manager. All three are Christians. They have previously refused other cake printing orders which included pornographic pictures and offensive language, since they clearly conflicted with the teachings of their Christian faith.
  4. On 9 May 2014, volunteer LGBT activist Mr Gareth Lee, asked for a cake to be decorated with the slogan “Support Gay Marriage”. The order was later declined by the owners.
  5. The order was declined because it promoted same-sex marriage, not because the customer was gay. It was the message the bakery was objecting to, not the customer.
  6. The legal action against Ashers Baking Company is being funded by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland – a taxpayer-funded public body with an annual budget in excess of £6 million.
  7. The ECNI is in favour of introducing same-sex marriage. Its website states: “The Commission supports the introduction of legislation permitting same sex marriage…including sufficient safeguards for religious organisations”.
  8. The Northern Ireland Assembly has rejected five attempts to redefine marriage since October 2012.

Notes for editors

Watch Daniel and Amy McArthur speaking about how the court case has helped their faith. Recorded Feb 2016. As featured on BBC One – ‘The Battle for Christianity’:

For further information contact:

Simon Calvert

The Christian Institute

Mob: 07802 796512

simon.calvert@http://www.christian.org.uk