Christian Institute weighs in behind ‘conscience clause’

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The Christian Institute has welcomed the DUP’s bid to introduce a ‘conscience clause’ to equality legislation in order to protect Christians and those of faith.

The consultation on draft legislation follows several high profile examples of Christians being taken to court for their beliefs.

The latest case involves Ashers Baking Company in Northern Ireland which is being taken to court for declining to make a cake carrying the message ‘support gay marriage’ with a picture of Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie embracing.

The bakery, owned by a Christian family, refused to make the cake because the message conflicted with their deeply held views.

Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, which has been backing Ashers Baking Company, commented: “We welcome the fact that the DUP is looking into this vital issue. We have long called for the law to allow for ‘reasonable accommodation’ of people’s strongly held religious beliefs. Paul Givan MLA’s consultation is an important first step in the discussion on how best to protect religious liberty.

“For our part, we think the focus of the protection should be on family-run businesses, where the work is inseparable from the people behind the business. Whether it is a baker or a B&B, there ought to be a respect for their beliefs on those rare occasions where doing what the customer wants would force them into a moral compromise. In those circumstances, we think the law must respect their freedom of conscience.”