Case against Ashers was ‘intolerant and discriminatory’

Reaction to the Ashers ruling on Tuesday continues to be characterised by disbelief and concern about the future ramifications.

Yesterday, a columnist for The Daily Telegraph suggested that the Judge presiding over the case had misrepresented the McArthur family.

And a Spectator article said it is “simply astonishing” that the company should be forced to support a cause that they fundamentally disagree with.

Criticism

Writing in the Telegraph, Allison Pearson criticised Judge Isobel Brownlie for ruling that the McArthur family discriminated against Gareth Lee because he was homosexual.

She said, “that’s not actually true, is it? Ashers didn’t refuse to sell the cake to Mr Lee because he was gay. They refused to ice a slogan on the cake that attacked their most cherished beliefs”.

She added, “a gay activist should think twice before asking a well-known Christian baker to make a cake with a slogan he knows they will find deeply upsetting, let alone bringing a prosecution”.

State-sanctioned views

Pearson agreed that “businesses should strive to treat all customers equally” but warned against a situation where “everyone has to sign up to a set of state-sanctioned ‘correct’ views”.

Melanie McDonagh, of The Spectator, also cautioned against forcing a company to promote a campaign which is fundamentally at odds with their sincerely held beliefs.

Writing about Ashers, she said, it is “simply astonishing” that workers in the company should be obliged to take part, “through their icing bags”, in campaigning for something which they morally object to.

“You are not a mere machine in the cake decoration business; rather like a potter, you have a hand in the thing you produce; you become a party to it.”

Wrong

McDonagh also commended Daniel McArthur for his statement outside court on Tuesday.

She added: “As Daniel McArthur, the general manager of Ashers, correctly observes, ‘The ruling suggests that all business owners will have to be willing to promote any cause or campaign, no matter how much they disagree with it’.”

According to the commentator, it was “wrong and intolerant and discriminatory” for the Equality Commission to discriminate against committed Christians by “persecuting them for holding to their moral principles”.

Editorials in The Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express and the Belfast Telegraph have all criticised the ruling and defended the family.

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