Whatever view people may hold on the Ashers Bakery cake controversy, for the non-religious it is hard to ascribe any gravitas to the company's perspective having witnessed the descent of Daniel McArthur into religious fatuity after his firm lost its appeal against an earlier ruling which asserted as a right the expectation not to be discriminated against on grounds of sexuality.
While his pregnant wife looked on with an expression that suggested listening to her husband sermonise was on a par with observing a rapture into Heaven (another bonkers idea that some have succumbed to over the aeons), McArthur went on a religious rant while pointing to the sky, proclaiming that:
we are thankful to God and his faithfulness to us through everything - he is still on the throne, he is the ruler of heaven and of earth and he is our God and we worship and we honour him.
Basically because God has the same prejudices that the bakers do.
Gareth Lee from Queer Space might have wanted to chance buying a cake from a person in such a state of asininity but it is by no means certain he would have risked eating it.
McArthur's performance seemed utterly surreal and reinforced the view of a Swedish guy I once had a drink with: treat religion as you would your genitalia – okay for your own amusement and personal use but not to be waved in public.
In a more stable moment McArthur reflected that, "this ruling undermines democratic freedom, it undermines religious freedom and it undermines free speech." More lucid but not more logical. The guy is wholly devoid of the slightest comprehension that he is entitled to his religious belief and to both preach and practice it ... but on himself and not on those who don’t want it practiced on them.
This is what the Appeal Court ruling undermines – the arrogant assumption that there is some god given right to practice religion on others. As the BBC legal commentator, Joshua Rosenberg, tersely summed up:
if a business does supply a service, it must not discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation — which means it must not refuse to provide a gay person with goods that it would provide to others.
The North’s most senior judge, Declan Morgan, in his judgement rejected the kernel of the Ashers argument, saying "the fact that a baker provides a cake for a particular team or portrays witches on a Halloween cake does not indicate any support for either." Too right. What the bakery sought to do was prevent others not of their religious opinion expressing support for gay marriage. The suppression of the slogan "support gay marriage" was the real act of censorship in this case. There is no doubt that a cake adorned with the words "ban gay marriage" would have been made.
When cut to the chase and stripped of pious cant this case was about Ashers wanting a right in the world of commerce to discriminate on the basis of religious opinion. For that very reason Jim Wells of the DUP was correct to describe the verdict as an "awful decision" - truly awful for bigots like himself and awesome for those who think if there is a god, it created all people as equal.