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Verdict was particularly disappointing for Christians, whose prayers weren't answered

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Comments: Peter Lynas

Comments: Peter Lynas

Comments: Peter Lynas

The decision in the Ashers court case will disappoint many people - both Christians and non-Christians - concerned about freedom of conscience in our modern society.

The verdict will be particularly disappointing to many thousands of Christians who prayed deeply about the outcome of the Ashers case. Some will be depressed because their prayers have not been answered in the way that they had hoped.

But be careful what you pray for - in case you get it.

In fact, Christians are remarkably resolute in these matters, and there are countless cases where lives go on even if prayers are not answered in an obviously positive way.

Christians believe that God is still in control and that, in the long-term, things will work out in the way that He determines, even if we cannot see the purpose in the short-term. Already some church spokesmen have shown that resilience as well as a carefully thought-out response to the result of the Ashers case.

Dr Norman Hamilton, the highly-regarded Convenor of the Presbyterian Council for Church in Society, said: "It is clear that the law needs to be changed. In a truly pluralistic society, the law should protect everyone from discrimination, while properly valuing the role of conscience.

"No one should be treated as a second-class citizen, as we are all created with equal worth in the eyes of God."

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Many Christians will agree with Peter Lynas, a former barrister and director of Evangelical Alliance, who claimed: "Religion has been effectively banished from the commercial sphere. Even the right to religion under the European Convention of Human Rights could not save the McArthurs."

There seems a strong possibility that the verdict will be appealed to a higher court. Whatever happens, the vast majority of Christians will still feel that the highest judge of all is God, and that they can confidently leave the future in His care.

They may feel downhearted, but not distraught, and a strong faith is always a Christian bulwark in times of challenge and disappointment.

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