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Ashers wasn't rejecting customer for being gay, it was refusing to sign up to message he promoted

Published 10/11/2016

Belfast Telegraph letters to the Editor
Belfast Telegraph letters to the Editor

In response to Shelley Leggett of the Humanist Association of Northern Ireland (Write Back, October 31), I feel it necessary to clear up some misconceptions that seem to have been omitted from her argument.

Ms Leggett argues rhetorically that shop owners should be required to put "No gays" signs in their windows, like London landlords once put the signs "No blacks" and "No Asians" in theirs.

This argument misses a fundamental point.

The plaintiff in question was already a valued customer of Ashers. At no point was the customer refused service based on their sexual orientation, right up until they asked for a cake with a pro-gay marriage slogan.

What this objectively tells us is that Ashers did not base the decision on who the customer was. If that had been the case, they would have denied service long before this event.

Secondly, to clear up the issue of love and compassion. Christians are told to deal with people in gentleness and with respect (1 Peter 3:15) - an instruction that, sadly, many Christians struggle with at times.

The Christian community is one that is marked by tolerance. One need only look at the Christian response to the constant mockery and misrepresentation in our culture and compare that to Islam's response to mockery and misrepresentation to see the graciousness of the Christian worldview towards those who oppose it.

However, what the Christian is not called to be tolerant, loving, or compassionate towards is idolatry.

The Bible strictly tells them not to engage in it, and that God is to be the focus of their ultimate adoration and worship (Exodus 20:3-4).

Love is not God to the Christian, God is love.

ROB IRVIN

Belfast

Churches' historic step deserved recognition

I was disappointed by the poor media coverage in Ireland, north and south, of the joint declaration by Pope Francis and the Lutheran World Federation, marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

I had the same reaction to the lack of coverage of the initial declaration on justification in October 1991 in Augsburg, Germany.

Here was the wedge issue of the Reformation laid to rest with faith-filled words and Christian hope and love.

The declaration said the teaching of the Lutheran Church in the joint declaration does not come under the condemnations of the Council of Trent (1545-63) and that Catholic teaching on justification does not fall under the condemnations of the Lutheran Confessions (1580). It was a stunning development and surely the work of the Holy Spirit.

Surely in Ireland, of all places, there should be an outpouring of support for both Churches exorcising the demons of old religious bigotry, intolerance and disrespect? While there are still issues to be resolved, the shared understanding is to be celebrated by Christians all over the world - especially in Northern Ireland.

FR SEAN McMANUS

President, Irish National Caucus

Washington, DC, USA

Brexit has echoes in fate of Soviet Union

Much has been made by opponents of Brexit on the lack of a "plan". There was - and is - a plan. It's the same one which led to the fall of the previous European bureaucratic dictatorship: the Soviet Union.

The plan is to stop taking orders from - and giving money to - an unelected commissariat; to ignore their interfering laws and pathological micromanagement, then just go to work as usual.

For those whose businesses require European subsidies, please remember these come from the pockets of other working men and women. Should such funding cease, any resulting hardship will be either a sign of inefficiency, or that the product is not what people want.

It might soon be time to put away the begging-bowl and join the rest of us.

RICHARD SPENCER

By email

Ireland owes victory to giants of recent past

In their tributes to Ireland's heroics at Soldier Field, Chicago, many have rightly recalled the Herculean efforts of greats like Ronan O'Gara, Paul O'Connell and Brian O'Driscoll, who never actually got to taste victory over the hitherto "invincible" All Blacks.

All who played a part deserve credit, from Joe Schmidt to the water boys. It was an immense moment in Irish sport. But this great achievement was fashioned over a number of years.

Remember Isaac Newton's words: "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

M O'BRIEN

By email

Rugby success shows what it means to unite

I do not belong to any political party, or grouping, but the comprehensive victory over world champions New Zealand shows what the Irish can achieve as a united country, with politics and religion left to one side.

AIDAN HAMPSON

By email

Abortion discussion needs to show balance

Nelson McCausland (Comment, October 27) rightly pointed out the troubling nature of a seminar event, which is due to be held at the Northern Ireland Assembly on November 16.

The panellists invited to speak at the Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series (KESS) at the Assembly on "Abortion Policy and Law: Key Considerations" all come from the position that abortion law in Northern Ireland should be changed.

The Northern Ireland Assembly communications office has acknowledged that no one participating in this event comes from a pro-life perspective.

In hosting this event, the Assembly must accept responsibility that this event will only be offering a pro-choice discussion around abortion laws here and should insist it is billed as such.

Failing that, it is not too late for the Assembly to postpone the seminar to ensure that a balanced panel is heard.

The academics participating in the seminar are free to hold the views they do and to articulate them.

However, it is incumbent on the Assembly, as the representative body for the people of Northern Ireland, to ensure that a balance of opinions is heard on what is a deeply sensitive issue.

MARK BAILLIE

CARE in Northern Ireland

Belfast Telegraph

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