Having your Cake and Eating It – A response to Stephen J. Graham’s polemic on the Ashers Case

I want to add an explanation here for the following article.  I don’t normally respond to personal articles or comments attacking me – but this one was different.  Last week was an intense and tough week and it was not helped by being asked to write (at midnight) a comment on the Ashers case, which I had been following.  I did so and was then attacked. as I expected to be, but this time by a fellow Christian – an academic philosopher/theologian from Northern Ireland.  Not only did he accuse me of ignorance, but he boasted about the brilliance of his own response, tweeted it to an official of the National Secular Society and even hassled me for not responding whilst I was at the Assembly.  I was going to leave it mainly because I regarded his article as missing the point, nit picking and really quite arrogant and smug.  However by the end of the week I was absolutely sick of Christians who snipe away and who,  although they don’t shoot their fellow Christians, see no problems in giving our enemies the bullets to shoot us.   Stephen is clearly an intelligent, thoughtful Christian, and although I have no knowledge of him, nor anything personal against him,  I have no reason to doubt he is a throughly nice chap.  But he is in an academic ivory tower, handing out advice and making great presumptions about his own ability.  I’m on the front line – getting battered all the time.  I don’t have the time or the inclination (or the ability) for these comfortable middle class academic games.  The church is under fierce attack (and its going to get a lot worse).  The Ashers, a lovely young Christian family, have been put under enormous pressure.  The last thing they, or we, need is this kind of academic playing games,whilst we are engaged in what is a spiritual warfare.  I found Stephen’s article offensive, arrogant and totally off the point (which was that the law is unequal and discriminates against Christians).  When someone boasts about his own ‘robust’ response and accuses me of ignorance and falsehood, then I’m sorry I will oppose them to their face.  If it is too strong for some tastes I apologise.  But I am genuinely fed up of this constant sniping….the notion that Jesus, Paul, Augustine, Calvin, Luther, etc would ever have endorsed Christians bowing the knee to Caesar in this way is for me ludicrous. I pray the Lord would forgive me if I am wrong but as I long as I have this understanding all I can say is – God help me. I can do no other. 

– a further note to the above note.  I made a comment which was out of order and completely wrong.  I assumed that because Stephen is a philosopher/theologian that he was a middle class academic living in an ivory tower.  It turns out that that assumption was wrong.  Stephen is a working class man from the Shankhill.   I leave the remark there just to demonstrate to people how stupid I can be at times, and how not to do or say things.  I should not make such assumptions. I was wrong and I unreservedly apologise to Stephen for that and hope I can learn from my mistakes.  The rest of the comments and article still stand.  And I  wish Stephen all the best.

Having your Cake and Eating It

I knew that after writing the article on the Asher’s case,

https://theweeflea.wordpress.com/2015/05/20/bake-me-a-cake-and-mark-it-with-b-for-bigot/

it would not be long before a Christian apologist for the New Order would pop up.  Sure enough I was almost immediately tweeted ““Yet another commentator who hasn’t bothered to read the judgment….” This was from a Northern Irish philosopher/theologian called Stephen. I was a bit surprised at his tweet given that he boasts, “I almost never respond to comments which are insulting to myself or others, or which question my honesty or integrity.” But I guess he does not extend that courtesy to others and just assumes the worst. When I told him that I had read it and asked him to deal with the actual points, rather than insulting me or just questioning my integrity; he went on to write the following article: https://stephenjgraham.wordpress.com/2015/05/22/the-gay-cake-debacle-a-rejoinder-to-robertson/

Stephen clearly has great faith in his own ability – boasting “I’m curious if @theweeflea will retract his article, given the number of misstatements of fact and misunderstandings of law in it?” And telling us that a lawyer thought his article was masterful.   Friends tweeted in to say such wonderful things as ‘Jesus would have baked an extra gay cake” – and the usual abuse followed.   Stephen went on to say how I had got it wrong on the Scottish Christian party case as well. On the basis of Stephen’s post, my appearance on Radio 5 live and one or two other things in the press, this weekend I have been the recipient of some wonderful compliments – I am a lying, ignorant, dishonest, homophobic, love-hating, Christian scumbag.   Thanks Stephen! I know you didn’t write these things, but you have contributed to the general culture that produced them.

I have not responded to Stephens post until now because a) I have been kind of busy as moderator of the Free Church General Assembly and b) I didn’t really think it was that good and questioned whether I should respond to it at all. After all it’s hard of hard to respond to someone who thinks they have written the definitive response and are so brilliant. But since it is an excellent example of someone missing the point I thought I might as well have a go. And then when Stephen boasted about his own ‘robust’ response, I thought ‘robust…I can do that’. So here goes….

I wrote: “Asher’s did not refuse a gay person a cake. They refused to bake a cake with a message supporting gay marriage. And that changes everything.” To which Stephen replied: “This is flat-out false; it doesn’t change anything, not under the law. “  Now I am quite surprised that an intelligent person can write such an illogical statement. The fact is that my statement was correct, not flat out false. Asher’s did not refuse to serve someone because they were homosexual. They refused to put an SSM slogan on the cake. That does change everything. My statement was not flat out false.

Stephen’s point about the law is however probably correct (although not as clear as he likes to think – I know several lawyers who don’t agree). But here he misses the main point (indeed this seems to be his speciality – he argues against what is not being said and therefore ends up arguing against himself, rather than argue against what is being said).   The main point of my article was that the law is wrong – that there is ‘legalised inequality’. The fact that Stephen does not address this negates his whole response.

But not only does Stephen not get the point of the article, he also seems to specialise in nit picking. “Robertson incorrectly identifies the Equality Commission as the plaintiff in such cases. In the Asher’s case it was not the Commission who sued – it was the customer, which again should be abundantly clear from the judgment” What he neglects to mention (and you will note that he neglects quite a lot – which is interesting from someone who is a Christian telling the whole truth and giving a balanced judgement) is that the Equalities Commission funded the case to the tune of £40,000 of taxpayers money. The question remains would the equalities commission have given £40,000 of tax payers money to a Christian who was refused a cake from a homosexual run bakery stating SSM is sinful?

Lets continue with the nit picking. Stephen thinks this is a great point because he re-tweeted it. Asher’s (or a Jewish baker being asked to bake a cake with a Swastika on it) would not have to do so because they could just take the nuclear option and refuse to bake any cake with political or religious slogans. So bye bye, ‘God is Love’ being put on your cake. All to avoid being sued by the Equalities commission. Way to go. And I repeat here my main observation that the law is dumb and oppressive. Who is to decide what is political or what is religious?

And yet more nit picking – Robertson’s misunderstandings continue to pour forth, as he claims that “it is ridiculous for a Christian who thinks that Same-Sex Marriage is against the Word of God to be compelled to bake a cake with a message supporting it.” Again, this isn’t true. Remember, the issue is not with a private individual but with a commercial entity. It baffles me that Stephen thinks this is some kind of brilliant point. I don’t buy into the ‘its not me, its just the company I work for’ ethic. Of course he may be right in law, but that was not my point. My point is that as a Christian I want freedom to practice my religion in the public square and in my business.   It may be legal for pornography to exist, but if I run a commercial print business I don’t have to print pornography.

The issue was not that the customer was gay. The issue was the message on the cake. Now Stephen may be correct that the law requires all political and religious messages to be baked, irrespective of what they are. If that were true then a message stating Mohammed is a false prophet would have to be baked in a Muslim bakery, a message stating SSM is of the devil would have to be baked by a homosexual baker etc. That may be what the law states but if it does the law is an ass. Stephen may wish to defend the law if he so chooses. I don’t.

Lets continue with his ‘brilliant’ demolition, –

Now beginning to lose the run of himself, Robertson claims that the real discrimination in this case is against “the Christian baker who is being told he will have to close down if he is not prepared to provide cakes with messages that contradict his beliefs.” Again, this is simply flat-out factually incorrect. The baker was not told to bake cakes with slogans contradicting his beliefs or close down.

Actually they were. If Stephen stops to think and quits the nit picking and playing with words, he will see that. The fact is that Asher’s were found guilty of discrimination for refusing to bake a cake with a support SSM message on it.   If they refuse to do that again they will be shut down. Their only way out is to refuse to bake a cake with any slogans on them. Wonderful victory for free speech and equality! I guess the one way to stop the Church being sued for printing ‘unequal’ material is just not to print anything at all. We can all be equally silent (except of course those who argue for their version of equality!).

And then Stephen goes on to argue about the Scottish Christian Party being refused their leaflet published. I won’t rehearse all his points here but they are all to do with it being a different legal jurisdiction, a private individual vs. a political party etc. But again he misses the main point. My article was not about whether the minutiae of the law were being interpreted correctly; my point is that the law itself is unequal. We live in a society where a Christian can be sued for refusing to bake a cake with a SSM message on it, and a printer can refuse to publish a leaflet because it is anti-SSM. That’s the modern version of equality!  Given that I wrote this it puzzles me that Stephen does not see this. Maybe a case of not being able to see the wood for the trees?

And back to more of Stephens’s favourite pastime – nit picking. Apparently there is a significant difference between refusing to print the leaflets because they have a policy of not printing material that might offend people.” (What John Cormack said) and “[they] did not agree with the messages on it.” – what I said. Stephen clearly lives in some kind of academic philosophical ivory tower because he does not seem to realise that ‘I do not agree with your message’ is equivalent to ‘I am offended by your message’ in todays touchy feely ‘you’d better not disagree with me or I will be offended’ culture – especially when it comes to the subject of homosexuality.    He then goes on to accuse the SCP of being homophobic because they speak of “REAL” marriage, implying that SSM is not real marriage.   He then suggests that it would be perfectly legitimate for a printer to refuse to print something they thought might be deemed homophobic. And there you have Stephen’s case in a nutshell – he is happy to defend a Christian being sued for refusing to print an SSM message on a cake, and to defend a printer refusing to publish a leaflet because it suggests that SSM might not be real marriage.   Talk about having your cake and eating it!

As an aside let me clearly state that Same Sex Marriage is not real marriage. The government and the law courts have no more right to redefine marriage than they have to call a square a circle. I look forward to the phone call from the Equalities Commission!

“I agree with Robertson in his desire that our Christian freedoms not be eroded, but what he splendidly overlooks is that he lacks no right or freedom whatsoever that a non-Christian enjoys. The law applies equally to Christian and non-Christian alike.” Mega fail.   The question is not whether the law applies equally to Christian and non-Christian alike, the question is whether the law itself is ‘equal’ and just. I don’t agree that it is. And there are so many ways that this is seen. I don’t believe that Christians are currently being persecuted – but we are being discriminated against and I suspect that that will soon lead to direct persecution. There are many jobs that I could not take and would not be offered, because I do not believe that SSM is right. There is discrimination and bias in the media, arts, politics and now the legal system against those who would hold to biblical beliefs. It is beyond sad that an intelligent professing Christian should use his gifts to try and defend the indefensible.

Another example of Stephen leaving out relevant information. He helpfully tells us that the plaintiff went to Asher’s because it was near his office. For some strange reason he does not tell us that the plaintiff is a member of Queer Space, a gay rights advocacy group. That of course had nothing to do with the case.

And now my favourite nit-pick off them all. I had stated that SSM is illegal in Northern Ireland, to which Stephen responds: SSM is not “illegal,” it’s simply that there is no legal provision for it. Murder is illegal. Theft is illegal. SSM is not illegal. You kind of have to read that several times to try and grasp what is being said. But it is just another classic example of someone trying to be clever and getting confused.   SSM is illegal in that it is against the law.   There is no legal provision for it, not because the Northern Irish can’t afford it or forgot about it, but because it is against the law. To most rational people that means it is illegal. I think what Stephen was trying to say is that SSM is not criminal.

But lets return to the main point. Stephen clearly thought his article was a wonderful rebuttal of mine and that having been humbled by his obvious brilliance, I would withdraw mine, repent and acknowledge by stupidity. Sadly for him, I had actually read the judgement and I stand by what I wrote. A society that seeks to compel Christians to publish messages that go against their faith, to permit practices in their own home which they regard as sinful, and discriminates against us in politics, media and the workplace because we believe the bible, is not one that is equal, tolerant and free. That discrimination may be legal but then so was apartheid in South Africa. The fact that a Christian philosopher/theologian becomes an apologist for unjust and discriminatory practices against Christians (and helpfully tweets the National Secular Society their findings) is not something to rejoice in, but something to be saddened by. Doubtless Judas thought he was keeping the law as well.

And finally a nit-pick that Stephen actually managed to get right. I admit that the judge was not a ‘he’ but a ‘she’, I apologise for my mistake, but that’s what happens when you are compelled to use unequal gender specific language. In the Brave New World of the future I look forward to the day when all gender specific language will be done away with as a symbol of the oppressive past and we will all be free and equal. Except that some will be more equal than others.  But Christians need not worry; as we are being thrown to the lions I am sure some philosopher theologians will find a legal justification for it and write ‘brilliant’ articles against those who dare to question the law.

30 thoughts on “Having your Cake and Eating It – A response to Stephen J. Graham’s polemic on the Ashers Case

  1. Amen … A society that seeks to compel Christians to publish messages that go against their faith, to permit practices in their own home which they regard as sinful, and discriminates against us in politics, media and the workplace because we believe the bible, is not one that is equal, tolerant and free

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  2. “I agree with Robertson in his desire that our Christian freedoms not be eroded”.

    So – what we see is two figures professing to be Christian with a disagreement. David you are claiming discrimination against Christianity, Graham claiming that the law was upheld, applies to all equally and that there was no discrimination.

    A question – to what degree is this conversation between you furthering the gospel and to what degree is it like the negative campaigning of politicians leading up to an election?

    Again in spite of strong disagreement expressed previously I would uphold and affirm what I have commend previously, “I think one Christian approach to this could be to leave others to judge… Then I think something that is helpful is as you did to say that if you asked for a cake with lettering that a baker wouldn’t be OK with providing that you would get the lettering elsewhere. I think that would be enough to make the point.”

    I wait to see if the objector to my original comment who implied a lack of “passion, love and intelligence” be therein will respond.

    I have previously cautioned against tribalism and insensitivity. I would do the same now at the risk of you being “upset and infuriated” David. However I would want to point out that I say this generically, this is not pointed at you but aimed at all professing Christian allegiance. Your mention of tribalism and division in the Free church in your recent speech indicates an awareness of such if not happening now then at least it having happened. It is incumbent upon all to show grace (I include myself).

    Again, I perceive this to be not inconstant David with what you have rightly commented elsewhere “”“All of us (including those who profess to be evangelical) need to repent and return to the God of the Bible and stop playing these stupid games”

    So I suppose the “us” in that do need to practice what we preach and keep our egos in check otherwise it leaves others to to that for us. If we call for repentance and are not repentant ourselves then anyone else has the right and (I would say duty) to point that out – it being conducive to the permeating of the gospel and not hindering it.

    I trust that it is the former and not the latter that you would prefer over whether any one of us is perceived in a good or bad light at any point in time.

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  3. Hi David.

    A fair response, and I am very sorry that you are on the receiving end of this stuff. None of it is conducive to any kind of rational discussion of the issues. For the record, I spent the weekend reviewing District Judge Brownlie’s ruling, and my comments (for what they are worth) are here:

    https://theobloggie.wordpress.com/2015/05/24/bakeoff-bigotry-the-clash-of-cultures/

    In short, one can see exactly how the verdict turned out as it did, but this is not exactly an outcome which redounds to the credit of the British judicial system. When secularists drive the framing of legislation, there now seems to automatically be an incorporated bias against conscience and freedom of belief.

    Regards, Kevin

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  4. Please, David, remember your health and try to delegate more this week. You have been a sole warrior in the trenches of late, spat on and abused. The wider church need you in the long term. So do your family. So be careful this week with your workload. Rest in Him (Hebrews 4). Alan

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    1. All bigots should be spat on and abused. Racists, misogynists and others miscreants were likewise forced to keep their views to themselves and from polite society.

      Why you all think you can continue your horrific attack on people, simply because you picked a religion, is the offense.

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  5. You make statements about your view regarding this case being right or wrong – where do you get this idea? You aren’t a legal scholar, it’s not in the Bible. Are you – gasp! – suggesting that your morals are created by your thoughts about society? Perhaps you think they are informed by your religion, but Christians differ with you about this topic.
    Strange that for someone declaring you have a source for objective moral values, that you still rely on subjectivity. I’ll let you mull over whether all morality is subjective or not.

    Another point,the one thing you still don’t get – why you are a bigot – is because you continue to treat homosexuality like ‘a swastika to a Jew’, that it is not only offensive to you, but because it’s a symbol, – or somehow – ties to great evil.

    This is why you are attacked, David, not because of your religion – because of your black heart.

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  6. “As an aside let me clearly state that Same Sex Marriage is not real marriage.” – Sorry but it now is. Now get over it. You lost. Now have the dignity to get on with your life.

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  7. Where is your compassion for this blogger? Your forgiveness? Your love? I appreciate your response and can see the truth in some of your points but the sarcastic, bombastic tone “my favourite nit-pick” etc. Etc. is upsetting. Should you defend your point? Yes. Should you call him out on his arrogance? Maybe. Do you need to adopt the intellectually superior tone? No. It’s crass and unbecoming.

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    1. Anne – thanks and I am sorry you think there is an intellectually superior tone. That was actually my point. I think that Stephen will be much more intellectually superior to me – so I can’t really adopt an intellectually superior tone. I guess its always difficult to read tone online?

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  8. I’ll make this my final comment on this matter.

    To be honest I’m really disappointed in your response. You constantly accused me of nitpicking when the fact is I responding to your numerous misunderstandings & misstatements of both fact and law, and then engaged directly with your central point: that there is a double-standard in the interpretation and enforcement of law.

    People can judge this themselves, but you have then rather classlessly slurred me on a number of fronts. Firstly, you try to lay blame on me that some people have abused you. I’m sorry you have been abused in the way you have, but I’m aghast that you try to pin that on me. That’s incredibly unfair. Moreover, you claimed ” [Stephen] even hassled me for not responding whilst I was at the Assembly” – I want to tell your readers that this is categorically FALSE. I never hassled you in ANY way. Thirdly, you accuse me lecturing people from a middle class ivory tower, as if I’m detached from the reality of life. The truth of the matter is I live in a working class area (the Shankill Road in Belfast) which has me on the front line of a very difficult area – not some detached other-worldly academic as you try to portray me.

    I’m sure you’re a good guy, but this episode has made you seem (to me, anyway) a fairly nasty person who has resorted to making up things about me, so I really want nothing more to do with this.

    Very disappointed David.

    Stephen

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    1. Firstly…let me absolutely apologise for what I said about you that was wrong. No excuse. I will also leave it up on the main post (and the apology) so people can see how stupid I was and learn how not to do it. I am referring to the remark about you being from a middle class ivory tower – which was a crass and ignorant comment. I had not realised that you were a working class boy from the Shankhill. Congratulations by the way on becoming a philosopher/theologian.

      However I do stand by the comments on abuse. Your postings accusing me of not having read the judgement, being ignorant and exalting your own assessment did do harm and do help create the background in which those who want to go further with insults can. That part is true.

      You categorically state that you never hassled me in any way. Again that is not quite true – I received this tweet from you during the Assembly – “I’m curious if @theweeflea will retract his article, given the number of misstatements of fact and misunderstandings of law in it?” – a tweet that I also got from others. When I challenged you on that you said that it was just ‘playful jabs’…well one mans’ playful jabs is anothers hassling. We will just agree to disagree on that one.

      And my main disappointment still stands. You chose first of all to publicly attack my original article as being another one based on ignorance. You then went on to inform me that I had the SCP case all wrong as well. You chose to follow up with a supposed rejoinder which actually missed the whole point of the article – which was not that the correct interpretation of the law had or had not been followed, but that the law itself was legalising inequality. You then went on to boast on your own blog about how a lawyer supported you etc. I dealt with your arguments, such as they were – and instead of responding to each of the points, you just decided to attack me personally.

      My accusation about being middle class etc was wrong and for that I unreservedly apologise. The rest of the response stands. You can choose to deal with it or not as you please. You may be disappointed in me, as I am in myself, because I reacted to you. I am disappointed that someone of your considerable talents is using them to justify the indefensible and attack other Christians. You do realise how depressing it is to stay up really late, reading and writing about a particular issue, and then respond with a requested article – only to have it summarily trashed by someone who is supposed to be a fellow Christian – and who basically just did not get the point of the article – and does not seem to grasp what is going on in the wider culture just now.

      Anyway I wish you all the best and hope our next exchange will be a wee bit sweeter….

      Yours in Christ

      David

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      1. If an atheist were to complain about getting abused by Christians borrowing your rhetoric, you’d mock them. You’d say, “What’s the matter? You can dish it out but you can’t take it?”–just like you did when people responded negatively to the way you conducted yourself in the debates with Matt Dillahunty. You only approve of ‘tough talk’ when it’s not being directed at you. You get some back, and you respond by playing the victim. Please don’t act like you’ve never treated people the way you’re being treated now.

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      2. Actually I wouldn’t – I would agree with them. And I have no problem with ‘tough talk’ being directed at me. And I don’t play the victim. And I hope I have never treated people the way that I am often treated..although there may be occasional lapses. Other than that your post is accurate!

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  9. “The main point of my article was that the law is wrong – that there is ‘legalised inequality’.”

    Ok. Let me for a second accept this continued misunderstanding. Christians are being told how to behave and that they are being told to behave in a way contrary to their belief. For that to be true we have to accept the entire premise of equalities legislation in the UK is wrong. People should not be treated equally when it comes to many aspects of life.

    The 1970 Equal Pay act: There are Christians (and other religions) that genuinely believe that men and women serve very different purposes on this planet. If one of those set up a business and employed men and women they should be allowed to discriminate based on their religious beliefs? Thats what you are saying.

    The 1975 Sex Discrimination act: This was designed to further reduce discrimination between men and women. It meant, for example, a woman could not be fired for being pregnant. Again, there are Christians and others who feel that a mothers (or indeed womans) place is in the home. You want to employers to make religious choices for their employees? Removing equalities legislation will let that happen.

    The 1976 Race Relations act: Remember the signs? No blacks. The Christian Council of Britain is very closely associated with the BNP. It may be a near one-man-band with suspect views but it has a religious belief which you want to supersede others equality. No blacks indeed.

    So where do you draw the line David? Where do you think it is wrong for a business to treat its customers differently and ok for the state to say a business should treat its customers equally? I know you dont agree with the “ethic” (as you put it) of businesses being separate from the beliefs of their owners but is it only when the issue is around same sex that Christians should be allowed to practice their religion in the public square or at work? Should the Christians who believe women are inferior be allowed to pay them less or fire them on the spot for being married or pregnant (or even unmarried and pregnant!) and have those old No Blacks reprinted and framed in their windows? There are people with those religious beliefs and you want them to publicly and without repercussion to be able to act on them.

    Your utopian vision of Christians being able to decide as and when they get to follow their beliefs regardless of its impact on other people when providing services does mean something else. Other will be able to say No Christians…..

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    1. Douglas – I already explained where I draw the line on the programme. A bit of common sense, tolerance, live and let live etc. I know that a gay bakery would not be expected to bake a cake with the words ‘homosexuality is sin’. Nor should they be. Refusing to bake someone a cake because they are gay would be wrong – refusing to bake a particular message is not wrong. I think it is ludicrous that I cannot run a bed and breakfast because the State tells me who I should allow to sleep in my bedrooms. The no blacks argument is a cheap shot and not worthy of you. My whole point is that the law as it now is, discriminates against Christians and does not even allow us to practice our faith in our own homes and businesses. Its disappointing that you are endorsing that.

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      1. I do endorse that but I get you cannot see the difference between a person and a business (perhaps understandable in that you Christianity is both who you are and what you do professionally). But to accept that there should be no barrier between faith and business is to accept that there will then be discrimination based on faith. Hence the example of the no blacks. Not a cheap shot, merely a factual one. I cannot see how a law can be written that allows a general business to have a faith without opening up the floodgates to faith based decision making which will result in discrimination. A business has to treat everyone the same.

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      2. Douglas – do you think a gay baker should be forced to bake a cake with the message – homosexuality is a sin – or gay marriage is wrong? What about the Muslim who is asked to bake a cake with Mohammed on it? It seems you want every business to treat everyone the way that humanists determine – and only that way. The ultimate discrimination.

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  10. As a dispassionate observer may I say that I don’t think either of you have got the tone of the discussion quite right, whatever are the rights or wrongs of the case.

    IMHO Stephen is correct that the law as it stands has been interpreted correctly (daughter who is a Christian lawyer has read the judgement and thinks it is “probably” correct).

    However David is right in his conclusion that the law is an ass and is legalising inequality – I think the disastrous consequences of this will become clearer as time passes. Our society is becoming increasingly intolerant of any view which does not conform to current secular neo-liberal thinking, and vengeance is taken on any dissenter by the full force of the twitterati and the law.

    But Stephen you must realise that for many Christians who take the bible seriously SSM is a major issue. No politician or government has the right to change what we believe God has ordained, and marriage is a creation ordinance which has been largely respected in all cultures since the dawn of history. As a fairly “natural” Conservative I refused to vote for Cameron because of this issue (much good it did me, but The Lord will have the last word).

    But I have no public voice – no one is going to listen to me. So I need spokesmen on my behalf who do have a platform, and David is such a person.

    He is very robust in his views (perhaps slightly too robust on occasions) but, to be blunt, most church leaders in the UK spout ineffectual pap! The response of the Catholic Church to the Ireland vote on Saturday was, “We must try to do more to engage with young people” – hardly a ringing defence of the biblical position. The AB of C (who I believe to be a very good man) refuses to answer any questions publicly on the issue of homosexuality. Canon Giles Fraser, the current darling of the BBC, talks unutterable nonsense most of the time.

    Because David defends biblical truth so passionately he will inevitably attract opposition, and because he is human he will make mistakes from time to time. But “truth has fallen in the public square” so the age requires a forthright spokesman (or preferably spokespersons!).

    “O Zion, bringer of good tidings go up on a high mountain. O Jerusalem, bringer of good tidings, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid. “ Isaiah 40, 9

    Why up a mountain? Why shout? So that you can be heard of course!

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  11. Congratulations Mr Robertson on becoming Moderator: quite a privilege; and I am sure it has been a full week!

    I have found this argument interesting. Although it has no doubt been a bit stressful for the main participants; Stephen headed off with his tail between his legs! I read his supercilious ‘Rejoinder to Robertson’ and was pleased to see he got a robust response. He deserved it.

    He did, however, include a link to the judgement: the whole thing is fascinating. It in itself provides a case study of the mess that legislation has got us into, and is in my opinion, a full-blooded corroboration of the original article. The simple, and very worrying, fact is that the law is taking it upon itself to silence dissent, to foster hypocrisy and intimidate moral conservatives.

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    1. Hi Tony.

      That is precisely the point, I think. I do think that, given the way in which the legislation has been drafted, and given the incremental nature of case-law decisions which build over time to provide a credible framework for applying that legislation, the Ashers Bakery were on a hiding to nothing, right from the start – unless (perhaps) they had handled things quite differently.

      You look back through the case-law, and the various citations that DJ Brownlie relied upon, and you suddenly realise that, somewhere in the past, someone has been allowed to recategorise any ‘religious’ insight as “subjective opinion”. Given that any views of the LGBT lobby are not so categorised, this immediately gives them the trump card in each and every case.

      It is fascinating that this all devolves down to metaphysics. If ‘marriage’ is simply a label that we use to describe a social phenomenon, rather than a real entity that has dimensions and definitions, then we can change it into anything we want. The logic that permits SSM can therefore equally well permit any other redefinition, on the same basis. And if Christian faith is merely “subjective”, rather than an equally valid view of reality, equally grounded in the kind of evidential basis that anyone else would respect, then all we have is vapour that the judiciary may happily ignore, and apparently does in practice.

      I do not think we have arrived at this point accidentally. The parallels in other disciplines are so closely related, that the current state of the law reflects the absolute evisceration of the Christian worldview within the academy.

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  12. “The problem with today’s world is that everyone believes they have the right to express their opinion AND have others listen to it.

    The correct statement of individual rights is that everyone has the right to an opinion, but crucially, that opinion can be roundly ignored and even made fun of, particularly if it is demonstrably nonsense!”

    Brian Cox

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  13. Hello Kevin

    I missed your analysis but having read it I agree: it is ultimately a matter of metaphysics or world views.

    Right across the board a new system of values is being put in place while the old one is being dismantled and I don’t think there is anything we can do to stop it.

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    1. Hi Tony.

      I agree. There is little or nothing we may do to stop it. I think it is important that the analysis is done, and the changes are documented so that we may be clear on what has happened, how it happened, and why it happened. I have a friend (a Barrister) who is reviewing the very careful and deliberate changes in the legislation all of which, cumulatively, have driven us to the point where Christian orthodoxy is becoming borderline illegal in the public sphere.

      Culturally, we are being herded into a ghetto, and systematically the capacity of Christians to be ‘salt and light’ will be restricted to non-verbal cues, and faint memories of something that once was. Interestingly, atheists that I have recently debated with have made it quite clear that (in their opinion), these changes have nothing to do with equality, but rather are all about a new kind of supremacy. Sometimes, they feel able to even to articulate the full force of their polemic: “You had it coming to you”. Certainly, the way in which the judiciary are applying things is suggestive that equality was never the intention.

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  14. Hello Kevin

    It was interesting, and very true to life, to hear that the husband, Mr McArthur, agonised about what to do and almost put the logo on the cake before finally deciding against it. What a miserable piece of work it was on Gareth Lee’s part to put a family through such stress; knowing that he had a good case and would probably win – a new kind of supremacy indeed! ‘Equality’ is another one of these words which is a tool to deceive and change society.

    It certainly takes a lot of courage, and wisdom, to speak out. Personally, I think that what is needed is a fairly confrontational, masculine sort of Christianity. It will be called unloving but I do not think it is.

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    1. Hi Tony.

      What is beginning to happen here is what is already occurring in the US. There are a growing number of Christian businesses being deliberately targeted by LGBT activists, because they are pretty sure that they are likely to (a) remain consistent over the definition of marriage, and (b) fail on the matter of due process. The very nature of the initiative to enforce ‘approval’ of the gay lifestyle, has the effect of redefining all the associated human relationships purely in relation to compliance and non-compliance.

      I suspect that this suits the agenda of the secularists. They know that they have no objective basis for ethics, so compliance with the regulations is now their new and only basis for polarising our culture, thereby successfully categorising Bible-believing people as miscreants. They will get their way, but in so doing they are digging out the foundations for a civilised society from beneath their own feet. It is brutal – reminds me of those archive film shots of the crowds throwing bricks through the windows of Jewish businesses, after the Nazi’s marched into Vienna. The previous week, they would have been happily dealing with those families, chatting over the counter, doing business in an apparently amicable manner. But, in a godless society, such characteristics are merely skin deep.

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  15. Hello Kevin

    I agree that is the direction we are heading.

    I think the main issue in the case is freedom of speech. Iain McWhirter, who is a humanist, wrote in the Herald in January of this year, ‘We are entering a new age of unreason. Freedom of speech is the paramount expression of freedom itself. If people are not free to think and debate, to challenge and ridicule, then they cease to be truly human. They become automatons.’

    It seems that now people of traditional views cannot say what they think and have to say what they don’t think – out of fear of being prosecuted.

    I find that I (doubtless along with many others) am in danger of being incautious at times and naiveté is not helpful. But if discrimination means making moral judgements, and that is forbidden by law, then the prophetic or dissenting voice is in danger of being silenced and freedom is at an end. As Christians we are told to ‘speak the truth in love’ as best we can – and in St Paul’s case the recipients did not always find that particularly congenial. What happens when we are not allowed to do so by the state?

    In the Ashers case the real issue is freedom of speech – and freedom for the gospel.

    If the truth sets people free and we are not allowed to speak it because it is deemed offensive then where is freedom?

    I wonder if Christians ought to be planning for the future and considering how the church will respond to these mounting challenges. It strikes me that if we could join with others in strong and determined defence of free speech that would be a good thing.

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    1. Hi Tony.

      The quotation from McWhirter is interesting, isn’t it? There is a sense, that even for some from a secular humanist perspective, our culture is in the process of losing something that was valuable. The thinking and debating is being overtly suppressed – I think that is pretty well documented. The ‘challenge and ridicule’ aspect is interesting – the Charlie Hebdo massacres and the resulting response suggests that all we may have left in our arsenal is ridicule. Semantic skills, ability to use logic, and an accurate perception of our own cultural history have so been beaten out of us, through the process of secularisation, that we have nothing much else to offer, in the face of oppressive ideologies.

      None of this is novel, or unanticipated. Schaeffer, writing back in the 1970s predicted a time when all we would have left would be pragmatism and the overriding desire to be at ease. Nothing would be worth fighting for. No values would be so important as to justify putting ourselves out, and we would no longer need to cultivate such qualities as patience and tolerance, because there would be nothing left to be tolerated. Perhaps we’ve imbibed quite a bit of that poison, or at the very least the kind of sappy, indolent relativism that turns us into spiritual couch-potatoes.

      We should have been organised a long time ago. I wonder if bodies such as the Christian Institute, or FIEC are able to help? David may be Scotland’s current answer to John Knox, but he’s one man, and he probably needs a bit of support. On the other hand, the fluidity of this curtailment of freedoms is something of a challenge. The politicians gave assurances, but they appear to be largely worthless – indeed, I suspect that even they had underestimated how much the protections had already been hollowed out from inside. Now, we have the beginnings of hints that, even within our ghettos (sorry, churches), the new politspeak will find its way, like an unwelcome intrusive guest at a family party, into our midst. The quest for approval is apparently insatiable, and will brook no dissent.

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  16. Hello Kevin

    Well plenty to think about. I think I will have a look at secular freedom of speech bodies. Good luck to you in your debates with the atheists!

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