Belfast Telegraph

Let's call it like it is... persecution of people's beliefs

By Jim Allister

The case of Beulah Print and Design has once again highlighted the aggressive and intolerant agenda of the "gay rights" lobby. As with Ashers, Beulah Print's name would have been enough to tell everyone that they were a Christian company. The name comes from Isaiah 62:4. A company which derives its name from a verse in the Bible which talks about marriage can be reasonably assumed to have a Christian understanding of matrimony.

It's hard to believe, therefore, that Mr Brennan was as "shocked" as has been reported when they declined to print invites to his same sex civil partnership ceremony.

This is not a case of someone being told that they wouldn't do work for him because of his sexuality. By his own admission Mr Brennan was a customer of the printing company for four years before they refused his order.

Patently therefore the objection which Beulah Print has is to being involved in preparations for a ceremony with which they in conscience disagree rather than the customer.

There will be more than a few people who will suspect that both Beulah Print and Ashers Bakery were deliberately targeted because they were Christian-owned businesses.

You wouldn't go into a shop on the Shankill Road and ask them to produce flyers for an event celebrating the life of Thomas Begley who blew himself up while planting a bomb which killed nine innocent people on the road. Why, therefore, should a Christian baker be forced to use his or her creative talents to produce a cake carrying a political slogan - Support Gay Marriage - with which they fundamentally disagree?

Why should a company in the Irish Republic be forced to produce invites to a same-sex civil partnership when the very name of the business tells everyone that they have a respect for the Christian understanding of marriage?

One of the most frustrating things about the Ashers case is that the persecution of a family-owned business is being financed by the public purse. The Office of the First and Deputy First Minister provides the funding for the Equality Commission who have taken the case.

Many taxpayers in Northern Ireland are rightly outraged by the fact that their money is being used in this way. That is why I proposed an amendment to the Executive's annual spending plans which would have slashed the commission's budget. Clearly the Equality Commission simply has too much taxpayers' money if it can squander it on persecuting a Christian-owned bakery.

Shamefully, however, when it came to a vote on the issue, ALL unionist MLAs trooped through the lobbies to vote with Sinn Fein and protect the commission's budget.

Just a few months ago Gerry Adams let the cat out of the bag when he described equality as the republican "Trojan horse". When unionists reflect on that they will doubtless remember that the RUC went in the name of equality, the Union flag came down in the name of equality and Loyal Order marches are stopped in the name of equality. In much the same way that republicans have used "equality" to push an anti-British agenda, it is increasingly apparent that those in favour of same-sex marriage are using so-called equality it to promote an anti-Christian agenda. While we are told all are equal it seems that, as in Orwell's Animal Farm, some are more equal than others.

  • Jim Allister MLA is leader of Traditional Unionist Voice

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