Belfast Telegraph

We had the courage of our convictions, we were never backing down: McArthurs

By Amanda Ferguson

The couple at the centre of the Ashers bakery 'same-sex cake' discrimination row have urged Christians to stand up for their beliefs in a new BBC documentary.

In The Battle for Christianity, to be broadcast tonight, Daniel and Amy McArthur reveal why they didn't back down even after losing a court battle for refusing to make a cake with a slogan promoting same-sex marriage.

Mr McArthur said: "We certainly felt that what it (the cake) said was against what the Bible taught."

Mr McArthur, the manager of the Ashers Baking Company, is involved in a legal appeal after the bakery was found to have discriminated against a gay customer, Gareth Lee.

The company is run by the McArthurs, a close-knit Christian family.

Mr Lee was told the firm could not fulfil a cake order for a Queerspace marriage equality event as it clashed with the ethos of the business.

The cake was to feature an image of Sesame Street's Bert and Ernie and the message 'Support Gay Marriage'.

Last year County Court Judge Isobel Brownlie ruled Ashers is not a religious group and is "conducting a business for profit", therefore the firm was found to have discriminated against the customer. Mr Lee's case was backed by the Equality Commission on the grounds of sexual orientation as well as his political beliefs.

But the couple, backed by the Christian Institute, took the case to the Court of Appeal.

However, the case was dramatically adjourned after Attorney General John Larkin made a late intervention and suggested Northern Ireland's human rights legislation could be in breach of European law.

It has been relisted for May 9.

Speaking on the programme, Mr McArthur's wife Amy says she lives her life in "accordance to God's command".

"This is my life - this isn't something I do at church," she said.

"You know, if people think that's culturally irrelevant then that doesn't really matter to me.

"What matters to me is that I live my life as best as I can in accordance to God's command."

Mr McArthur also urges Christians against being selective about what they take from their faith. He said: "I don't think there should be a pick 'n' mix approach to Christianity.

"Don't be afraid to take your Christian stand because we've learned that God is with you in all of it and he gives you the grace to stand against these trials and these challenges."

The documentary explores the more confident, assertive faith replacing traditional churches in the UK typified by the McArthur discrimination case.

Among the issues Professor Robert Beckford explores are immigration, radical social action, conservative morality and what the future of Christianity is in an increasingly secular society.

Prof Beckford also speaks to church leaders in the UK, including the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, about how they see the future amid warnings from academics that popular churches who take a firm line on issues like marriage equality for same-sex couples, abortion and euthanasia are pushing Christianity farther away from the attitudes of mainstream society.

The Battle for Christianity airs tonight on BBC One, 10.45-11.45pm

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