The Ulster baker who has been taken to court for refusing to make a cake celebrating gay marriage said that his religion was too important to him to go against his beliefs, the Daily Express reports.
Daniel McArthur, general manager of family run Ashers Bakery, told Belfast County Court, “Before God, this is something we couldn’t make.”
The business refused to undertake an order by a gay activist who wanted it decorated with Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie, arm-in-arm under the words “Support Gay Marriage”.
Same Sex marriage is still illegal in Northern Ireland; a country where only 10 per cent of people described themselves as atheist in the last census, compared to 41 per cent who were Roman Catholic, 20 per cent Presbyterian and 13 per cent Anglican.
Instead of tolerating other people’s religious beliefs, Northern Ireland’s Equality Commission took action against Ashers on behalf of gay rights activist Gareth Lee.
Giving evidence on the second day of the trial, which has divided opinion in Ulster, Mr McArthur said “The reason for the decision was that, as Christians, we could not put that message on a cake.
“Gay marriage is clearly in contradiction of the Bible; Our Christian faith is of utmost importance to us,” he said.
“It is how we run our lives, it is how we live our lives, it is how we bring up our families: Before God, this is something we couldn’t make.”
The 25-year-old father of two said the family did not seek legal advice before telling Mr Lee they did not want to complete his order, but called a senior member of the Presbyterian community to “ask his thoughts.”
He said he did not refuse the order to make any kind of political point, saying “We were not doing it in defiance of the law.”
“I think it is quite obvious that we do not know a lot of the ins and outs of the law,” he told the court, adding, “We knew the decision in our conscience as Christians was one that we had to make.”
“That’s why I said to mum ‘regardless, as Christians we are bound by what we believe’.”
His mother had initially spoken to Mr Lee about making the cake but said she took down the details because she “did not want to embarrass him or have a confrontation in the bakery”.
Karen McArthur said she always knew the 100 year old family business could not make a cake in clear defiance of their religious beliefs, saying “The problem was with the message on the cake because, as a Christian, I do not support gay marriage.”
The McArthurs’ barrister, David Scoffield, said the bakers had not discriminated against Mr Lee himself and “neither knew nor cared about” his sexuality, religious beliefs or political opinions.
The bakery has refused to admit breaching equality rules or pay damages and said it has not broken the law.
But Mr Lee, a well known campaigner and member of group ‘Queer Space’ claimed that being denied the couture confectionary made him feel like a “lesser person” when his order was rejected a few days after he made it.
In the end, the cake, which was part of a gay rights event, was made elsewhere.