One of the stupidest stories ever covered in the news is, alas, in the news again. And yet again the point is missed. Ashers bakers refused to decorate a cake with a picture of two characters from Sesame Street because they objected to wording which was to go with it: ‘Support Gay marriage’. Their barrister told Ireland’s ‘supreme court’:
“They would equally have refused to provide that cake with the slogan to a heterosexual customer. Their difficulty was the content of the cake, not the characteristic of the customer.” The customer, Gareth Lees, is an ‘activist’ who perhaps chose the prominently Christian business by mistake. I have no doubt he’s a thoroughly nice person.
Their barrister continued: ‘This is a case of forced or compelled speech, unlike other cases which have come before the court.”
No it isn’t at all. It would be if the ‘activist’ had wanted the staff of the shop to wear a t-shirt with the same picture and slogan, because anyone seeing them would assume they were expressing their views. Compelled speech is totalitarian. To equate this case with something like that is to have missed the point.
A cake, made to only to fulfil an order, a different thing. Just as, when they decorate a cake which has a grandad’s picture on it, and the slogan says ‘Happy Birthday to the best bloke ever,’ nobody would assume they agree with that.
These bakers are meant to be serious Christians. They are meant to believe that God not only exists, but can see and know everything. Surely to goodness, on their own worldview, God would know they made the cake only to fulfill an order?
The only way the bakers’ position can be believed is if they refuse to make a cake every time they disagree with the wording, and that could be anything from football teams being the best to so and so being the ‘best dad in the world’.
To try to make their position less ridiculous, they have played the ‘conscience’ card. A matter of conscience is always a matter of opinion. Nothing more than that.
I don’t care about same sex marriage. It’s wholly unimportant. I think any person should be allowed to marry any other person or thing. If a person wants to marry a tree or a lampost they should get on with it. Indeed, I’d happily watch three persons have a ‘triangular’ marriage, or two persons and their favourite statue. There must be a mad person somewhere who, after first deciding to ‘identify’ as a monument, could see their way to demanding to marry Nelson’s Column.
What is it about same-sex marriage which gets on so many persons’ nerves? I wonder about those who think this is a matter of morality or ‘conscience’.
On what basis does a Christian choose what in the Bible must be adhered to and what can be ignored? Not everything in the Bible is adhered to by Christians, so how does a Christian choose what to bin-off and what is so terribly important that not even a cake can be made?
picture: a principled activist, yesterday.