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ICC Note: Business owners in Western Europe who adhere to traditional Christian beliefs on the topic of marriage are facing increasingly difficult challenges when it comes to operating their business. A small chain of Christian owned bakeries in North Ireland has been ordered to pay a fine or face legal action after refusing to bake a cake that explicitly supported same-sex marriage, saying they disagreed with the content of the message. The case puts the right of business owners to refuse creating a product because it violates their conscience at the forefront of a wider debate about protections for religious freedom. 

11/9/2014 Northern Island (Christian News) – A Christian bakery in Northern Ireland has been ordered to pay compensation or face legal action after an equality commission declared that it was guilty of committing “unlawful religious, political and sexual orientation discrimination” for declining to make a Bert and Ernie cake that bore the phrase “support gay marriage.”

As previously reported, in May of this year, Ashers Baking Company in Newtonabbey—founded by Christians and named after Genesis 49:20—was approached by a same-sex “marriage” supporter to bake the cake, which also was to feature the logo for the homosexual advocacy group QueerSpace. According to the Belfast Telegraph, the cake was for an event in observance of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

The bakery, which has several locations throughout Northern Ireland, then sent the request to headquarters for review. General Manager Daniel McArthur, 24, told reporters that the company declined to bake the cake, explaining that same-sex “marriage” is against its Christian beliefs. Ashers Baking Company also offered a refund, which was accepted.

“It certainly was at odds with what the Bible teaches, and on the following Monday we rang the customer to let him know that we couldn’t take his order,” McArthur told BBC News. He outlined that his company has declined orders from other customers due to inappropriate content. “In the past, we’ve declined several orders which have contained pornographic images and offensive, foul language,” McArthur explained.

But the bakery said that although it “is willing to serve any customer regardless of their sexual lifestyle,” it does not believe that it should be forced to bake a cake that bears a statement that violates its deeply-held Christian convictions.

“We feel that the Equality Commission are pursuing us because of our beliefs that marriage is between a man and a woman,” McArthur said in an update released by the Christian Institute. “It feels like a David and Goliath battle because on one hand we have the Equality Commission who are a public body, they’re funded by taxpayers’ money, they have massive resources at their disposal whereas we are a small family business and we have limited resources at our disposal.”

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