As an evangelical Christian who shares both the frustration and disgust at the treatment of Ashers bakery by the Equality Commission, I can understand the knee-jerk reaction of some evangelicals in backing the doomed DUP conscience clause Bill - but I believe they are being naive and being used.
I oppose the Bill for three reasons. Firstly, bad law, or poor interpretation of bad law, will not be fixed by even worse law. Our current equality legislation has been poorly written, is inconsistently applied and totally fails to respect the true diversity of NI society. It needs totally reviewed, and not in a reactionary way.
Secondly, because it's motivated solely by electoral motives, wrapped up as dearly held principles. In reality, there is no chance of this Bill ever seeing the light of day.
Why is the Bill being proposed? Elections! This is the religious right within the DUP attempting to regain ground with its traditional evangelical voters. And finally, it and the associated consultation serve only to prove that the 'Christian Right' is overly interested in the issues relating to sexuality, particularly homosexuality.
Nothing in this Bill attempts to protect Christians or others with strong religious faiths. This Bill and the associated consultation concentrates on what Christians or others of faith can refuse to do in relation to homosexuals. But the issues of freedom to express faith, or promote it, are not being addressed. Issues of protecting those of faith from discrimination in employment around Sunday working will not be addressed either.
The various churches should not be used for such blatant electioneering by the DUP. If we want change, parties should set out their equality credentials and call on the electorate to endorse them.
NOT A ZEALOT