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A registrar sacked for refusing to oversee a civil partnership; a pastor arrested for preaching fire and brimstone from his own pulpit; a teacher fired for praying for a sick child. Over the past few years, examples of religious freedom being abridged have proliferated. So what is going on? Are we entering a new era of intolerance towards the faithful? Or a brave new world of equality?
The Christian owners of a Northern Ireland bakery have lost their appeal against a ruling that their refusal to make a "gay cake" was discriminatory. Appeal court judges said that, under law, the bakers were not allowed to provide a service only to people who agreed with their religious beliefs.
Two years ago, the family-run firm refused to make a cake iced with the slogan: "Support Gay Marriage". The order was placed at its Belfast shop by gay rights activist Gareth Lee.
- Simon Calvert
Equality law was not handed down from heaven on tablets of stone. It was written by civil servants and politicians. Like many laws, mistakes can be made. These laws cause misery an injustice and through parliament these laws can be changed.
Don't we discriminate all the time, particularly on the basis of capability and inherent qualities? In relation to discrimination related to sex, race and disability and sexuality, we have overcome this due to a wide-held belief of universal humanity and the fact they are not causal in relation to any of our abilities. There is currently, a failure of an understanding of that belief on our universalism, the resurrection of ideas of difference, especially through the prism of identity politics. There is a complete failure in a clash of ideas and a look to the law and the state not only to arbitrate but to also gain affirmation on everything we do.
Religion is an ideology which is buttressed by a belief in a professed belief in the supernatural and I fail to understand why here or anywhere in the 21st century, we are privileging, protecting and giving dispensation to people because of that professed belief
I am worried about the way we use the word discrimination now and what we mean by it. There are lots of legal, moral and cultural meanings. In the social sense, it traditionally means that a specific group are severely disadvantaged and discriminated against which means their engagement in public life, work or society is restricted.
I feel the gay cake case does not tap into this type of description as the customer could have gone to numerous places to get his cake. I am wondering can society cope with the existence of a small number of religious or faith-based companies who simply don't want to serve some people and will say certain things on the basis of their conscience. Can anyone really argue that gay people don't have equality in Britain in the 21st century? The idea that they have been discriminated against just does not hold up.
It wasn't the fact that they were severely disadvantaged by one bakery, its rather that they were made to feel bad by it. I think a lot about equality laws now is protecting people's self-esteem rather than guaranteeing their right to engage in society. I think its a bad, terrible, awful idea to invite any wing of the state to intervene in the propping-up of people's self-esteem.
...discrimination against a person is not the same as discriminating against a political idea ie in a democratic society, the freedom to express an opinion also includes the right to not be compelled to support an opinion that you don't agree with.
...the simple and right solution is for Asher's Bakery to stop offering cakes with bespoke slogans.
I think a lot about equality laws now is protecting people's self-esteem rather than guaranteeing their right to engage in society. I think its a bad, terrible, awful idea to invite any wing of the state to intervene in the propping-up of people's self-esteem.
If humanity is inherent with diversity, who is holy enough to judge how we make different people the same?
This seems authoritarian.
This struck me as being the most salient point in your entire article, in my opinion.