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 and Thursday this week, in a bid to overturn a decision made last year which found they had broken political and sexual orientation discrimination laws.
The court ruled against Ashers, owned by Daniel’s parents Colin and Karen, for refusing to fulfil an order to make a cake with a slogan supporting same-sex marriage because it conflicted with their Christian beliefs.
As they prepared for the latest court hearing Daniel and his wife Amy spoke to The Christian Institute 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:
Love for God
“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 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 Christian 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.”
“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.”
The Christian Institute has launched a petition to support Ashers Baking Company ahead of the appeal hearing.
Freedom of speech
The petition, which can be signed at https://www.christian.org.uk/supportashers, states: “I support Ashers Baking Co and the McArthur family in their stand for freedom of speech and freedom of conscience.”
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”.