The U.K., never slow to pick up on some of America’s discouraging trends, has taken to attacking Christian bakers for refusing to bake gay cakes. The latest example is from Northern Ireland, where Ashers was fined £500 for not making a cake with a gay slogan on it.
A member of our London-Nairobi Bureau has drawn attention to support for Ashers from an unlikely source, the U.K’s famous LGBTQ activisit, Peter Tatchell. Writing in the Guardian
, Tatchell states:
I profoundly disagree with Ashers’ opposition to same-sex love and marriage, and support protests against them. They claim to be Christians, yet Jesus never once condemned homosexuality, and discrimination is not a Christian value. Ashers’ religious justifications are, to my mind, theologically unsound. Nevertheless, on reflection the court was wrong to penalise Ashers and I was wrong to endorse its decision (emphasis mine).
Leaving aside his contentious understanding of Jesus’ views on marriage, Tatchell goes on to make a compelling point. If businesses should not be allowed to refuse services or goods that promote lawful behavior, then what’s to stop gay bakers from being forced to make cakes with anti-gay slogans, or Muslim printers having to publish cartoons about Mohammed, or Jewish printers being required to run holocaust denial stories?
Anti-discrimination legislation, apparently, has the unwelcome potential to produce the exact opposite of its intended effect.
Tatchell believes this dilemma can be avoided by making it unlawful to discriminate against ideas but not against people. “Discrimination against people,” he states, “should be unlawful, but not against ideas.”
It’s a bold and well-intended call but ideas notoriously influence people, sometimes disastrously, and have to be held in check. Nazi propaganda, for example, was outlawed in post-war Germany and hate-speech mosques have recently been shut down in France.
Quite right too, we say with a hearty stamp of our ethical imperative, and I’d imagine that Tatchell would be hard-pressed to disagree with either of the above examples of discrimination against ideas. But who sets the boundary, society at large? Perhaps, but societies have a habit of getting things badly wrong, as in the case of the 1000 year Reich, or the savage Islamist world of Raqqa, or those countries in the West that want to force bakers and everyone else out of business for not getting gay.
It seems that an appeal to a higher law has to be made, and I’ll leave you with the Pledge in Solidarity to Support Marriage, made shortly before the US Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage was constitutional and by implicit extension, that opposition to it was not.
Our highest respect for the rule of law requires that we not respect an unjust law that directly conflicts with higher law. A decision purporting to redefine marriage flies in the face of the Constitution and is contrary to the natural created order. As people of faith we pledge obedience to our Creator when the State directly conflicts with higher law. We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross this line.
That Peter Tatchell, who made an amusing if cruel career of “outing” Anglican bishops, should sense that a line has been crossed is telling. Whether the tolerance industry that he helped create will take any notice of his ideas is another matter again.