Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Supreme Court Victory for Ashers

We are delighted with the news that on Wednesday 10th October 2018 the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Ashers Baking Company.

They stated regarding Ashers- “By being required to produce the cake they were being required to express a message with which they deeply disagreed.”

The legal action was originally brought against family-run Ashers bakery in May 2014 by gay rights activist Gareth Lee. He asked for a cake with the campaign slogan, ‘Support Gay Marriage’.

Ashers, owned by Colin and Karen McArthur and managed by their son Daniel, refused to make the cake because it carried a message contrary to the family’s firmly-held Christian beliefs.
But the taxpayer-funded Equality Commission for Northern Ireland launched a civil action against the family-run bakery, claiming its actions violated Northern Ireland’s equality laws.

In the ensuing court case, District Judge Isobel Brownlie ruled that religious beliefs could not dictate the law and ordered the firm to pay damages of £500. Mounting an unsuccessful challenge at the Court of Appeal in Belfast in 2016, Ashers contended that it never had an issue with Mr Lee's sexuality, rather the message he was seeking to put on the cake.

The Christian Institute which represented the family then took the case to the UK Supreme Court. 
In a unanimous decision, five of the UK’s most senior judges upheld Ashers’ appeal against claims of discrimination.

Speaking on behalf of The Christian Institute, Deputy Director (Public Affairs) Simon Calvert called the ruling “a total vindication of Ashers Baking Company and the McArthur family.”
“The Court strongly agreed with Ashers’ lawyers that this case has always been about the message on the cake and not the customer; the message, not the messenger.
“Equality law was never intended to be used in the way the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland tried to use it in this case.” 

The Supreme court also raised concern about the Equality Commission- “The Court of Appeal expressed some concern that the correspondence between the ECNI and the bakery may have created the impression that the ECNI was not interested in assisting members of the faith community when they found themselves in difficulties as a result of their deeply held religious beliefs (para 106). It is obviously necessary for a body such as the ECNI to offer its services to all people who may need them because of a protected characteristic and not to give the impression of favouring one such characteristic over others.”

Questions need to be asked of the unelected Equality Commission regarding their pursuing of this case and the costs (approx. £250,000) which have been incurred for the Northern Ireland taxpayer.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Response to Abortion Referendum result in the Republic of Ireland

Much of Ireland imagines they have joined the ranks of the liberated as a result of the demolition of its constitutional protection for the unborn. It does not seem to care that by the same action it has effectively delivered a death sentence on a significant percentage of its potential population.

Actions of this nature are the inevitable consequence of secularisation. As belief in God and awareness of His Word declines, so does resistance to abortion laws. It’s a matter of anthropology: when man believes himself to be a random event instead of a purposeful creation, he will inevitably draw the same conclusion about those both within him and around him. This will then enable him to weigh lives on utilitarian scales and so make distinctions about their respective value. 

The Bible makes it plain that God considers even the deliberate abandonment of one’s child as an extreme example of heartlessness (Isaiah 49:15); and does not distinguish between the value of the child in the womb and the child who has made it into the world, using exactly the same word to describe both (Luke 1:41&44; Luke 18:15). 

We are obliged to show compassion and offer care to the small percentage of women who are caught in extreme circumstances, though while the ‘Yes' campaign centred its focus on those emotive margins to gain its advantage, it is extremely disingenuous and dangerous to ignore the fact that the overwhelming majority of women who have presented themselves for abortion have done so for socio-economic reasons.

The result of this referendum is a terrible outcome for everyone. People who have celebrated this event with the kind of enthusiasm that is more typical of a pop concert may not even realise the extent of what they have done; declaring their freedom even as they are delivered into the chains of their own judgment. When men sin with abandonment, God gives them over to sin that they may be consumed by it. They pour the drink into the glass with gladness, but do not yet realise that they will be made to drink it with grief, every last drop.

Which is why the majority in County Donegal, plus the minority across the rest of the Republic of Ireland, who voted to preserve the lives of both mother and child, deserve our humble thanks – and all the efforts of those who are now determined to extend the stretch of the killing fields to Northern Ireland should be implacably resisted.

Rev. Ian Brown
Clerk, Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Ireland's Abortion Referendum

In 1983 after a referendum, Ireland added what is known as the "Eight Amendment" to its Constitution. 
The wording is found below-

"The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right."

Thirty-five years later the highly sensitive subject of abortion has been thrust into the spotlight due to the planned referendum to repeal this Eighth Amendment on the 25th May. 

By permitting the vote the Irish Government has not only pandered to political liberalism but also endorsed a process that, if approved, will lead to the deaths of an incalculable number of innocent children.

Recently, the Government was to be commended for their swift and unreserved condemnation of the murder of innocents in places such as Manchester and London, but this same Government clearly fails to recognise that life within the womb is also to be preserved and protected. 

Abortion transcends national boundaries and political ideologies. Life is not the creation of man but of the God of Heaven. God created man in His own image and breathed life into him so that man "became a living soul" (Genesis ch 2v7), thus setting him apart from the animal kingdom. As such, human life is precious, and a warning is given against taking this life, except in righteous judgement. 

Since Scripture clearly shows that God alone created life, it naturally follows that no human being has an absolute right over their own life or that of another. This prohibition also extends to the child in the womb. 
While some try to dispute the point at which life begins, the Free Presbyterian Church in Ireland totally rejects the view that the unborn child is not a living person. The Bible plainly teaches that life begins at conception.  
  • The Psalmist David writes "for I am fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139v14). 
  • Job specifically says "There is a man child conceived",(Job ch 3v3). 
  • It is said of Jeremiah the prophet "before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee" (Jeremiah ch 1v5). 
  • Dr Luke records how Elizabeth rejoiced at the Virgin Mary's news and how that "the babe leaped in her womb" (Luke ch 1v41).
From the moment of conception, a new person forms within the mother, one who is genetically distinct and physically separate from her. So then, the issue of abortion cannot only be a matter of maternal choice because it involves purposefully taking away the life of another human being. In no other walk of life would this be considered either lawful or moral. 

While we recognize that there may be circumstances where both the life of mother and child cannot simultaneously be preserved and acknowledge that the support needed for each expectant mother can differ, it must be stressed that the deliberate act of abortion can never be justified. 

Government legislation may seek to accommodate the destruction of the body but it cannot destroy the eternal soul. For anyone to sentence the life of an unborn child to its physical death is an act of murder and rebellion against God the Creator.      

For these reasons the preservation of the Eighth Amendment must be maintained.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Sunday Sport

Tomorrow, the Lord’s Day 20th May, there will be a rugby match played at the Kingspan Stadium. While we rejoice that this is not a regular occurrence, we are nevertheless saddened to see the desecration of the Lord’s Day.

The fourth Commandment states “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 
Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:  But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” (Exodus 20:8-11)
We are commanded that one day in seven is to be special unto God. While every day should be lived in obedience and honour unto our God, one day is to be kept “holy”. It is to “sanctified”, to be set apart unto God, in that we worship God and thank Him for His goodness and saving grace to a wicked world.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 60 asks - How is the sabbath to be sanctified?
The answer is given – “The sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God's worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.

The command includes a responsibility to ensure that family, employees and visitors are not profaning this special day. 
For those that profess the name of the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour there is that duty and responsibility to keep this day unto the Lord and to be a witness to others.

The Saviour set an example to others, “and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.” (Luke 4:16) 
Likewise it was also the custom of the apostles “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them,” (Acts 20:7)
Sporting fixtures are not works of necessity nor mercy but rather entertainment and ought not to have priority over the laws of God.

This Lord’s Day we would encourage men and women to forget about the sporting events and rather consider God’s love for sinful man in providing a Saviour and as we read in Matthew’s Gospel “Seek ye first the kingdom of God”.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Policing and Crime Bill: Legislative Consent Motion

On the 28th November, the above titled motion was brought before the floor of the Northern Ireland Assembly. The motion stated –

That this Assembly endorses the principle of the extension to Northern Ireland of a number of provisions within the Policing and Crime Bill, by amendment at Lords Committee and Lords Report stage, in so far as they related to UK maritime enforcement powers; UK cross-jurisdictional arrest powers; anonymity for victims of forced marriage and pardons for convictions of certain abolished offences.

The final part of this motion included “pardons for convictions of certain abolished offences” and was an amendment that had been introduced to the Policing and Crime Bill at the committee stage in the House of Lords by lord Sharkey of the Liberal Democrats. This amendment appears to have been fast-tracked through the Justice Committee to be presented before the Northern Ireland Assembly.

In light of this plan to posthumously pardon those convicted of homosexual offences the following statement was issued-

On Monday, the issue of pardons for those convicted of homosexual offences was brought before the Northern Ireland Assembly. While the Justice Minister Claire Sugden may view this as an opportunity for the criminal justice system to try and right the wrongs of the past”, the Bible makes it very clear that homosexuality and all sexual relationships outside the pattern of Biblical marriage of one man and one woman are forbidden by the Law of God.

This policy has been introduced to appease the LGBT community, but we fear they will never be satisfied until they have everything their own way.

The truth is that while some may be happy with a pardon from a government, the question of eternal forgiveness and pardon still needs to be dealt with. This is something no government can offer no matter how powerful they deem themselves to be. Our sin is an offence before God and as such can only be pardoned by Him.

We are told in 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The motion on the day was opposed only by Mr Allister of the TUV while sadly many others remained silent.

Five attempts have been made in Northern Ireland to redefine marriage and make it that which is repugnant to a Holy God. We thank and commend all who have been instrumental in defeating these plans and acknowledge the bad press they receive for doing so.

Given the track record on this issue we have to wonder at the silence of the 28th of November and state –

The Government and Morals Committee of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster is deeply grieved and bitterly disappointed by the failure of MLAs at Stormont to oppose the passing of the motion granting a posthumous pardon for those convicted of historical homosexual offences.

This has saddened and grieved many Christians, but most of all grieved the God of heaven in whose eyes this is still a heinous sin.

Proverbs 14:34 Righteousness exalteth a nation but sin is a reproach to any people.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Northern Ireland's Moral Dilemma

The above front page appeared in one of our local papers recently and brings before us the very stark moral situation that is to be found in Northern Ireland.

The girl in the picture on the left found puppies that were left to die in a skip. She rescued them, adopted one and is rightly commended for her kind-hearted action.

The headline on the right directs our attention to a recent court case where a young woman was charged with accessing drugs which caused her to abort her child, the remains of which she disposed of in a bin.
Her housemates who found the aborted child, which was able to be identified as a male, were not commended for reporting it to the police but instead were lambasted on social media for interfering.
Why, because they were concerned not about the life of a animal but that of an unborn child. A human life, that is rightly protected by the law of our land.
This was not some unrecognisable collection of cells, the Housemates state "There was a fully-formed baby in our bin with little toes and fingers". It was not just a foetus, or an embryo, it was a baby, a human being that had been residing in what should have the safest place until the time of his birth.

David the Psalmist writes in Psalm 139 "For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made:" Every child is a blessing, a gift from God. Sometimes they do not have the perfect health that we would like but that does not diminish their worth. Every child is still precious in the sight of God and deserving of our love and care.

Abortion has become for many the standard means of dealing with unplanned pregnancies, but in reality it is the taking of the life of the unborn child. A transgression of the Sixth Commandment "Thou shalt not kill."
The Lord Jesus Christ said in Mark 12:30-31  "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these."
How can we rightly love our neighbour if we do not care for the defenceless unborn child?
Our soldiers have gone to other lands to protect those under the heel of oppressive dictatorships, but what about the silent voice of the unborn child? Where is their protector?

In an age when there is much talk about love and tolerance, where is the love for the child of the unplanned pregnancy?

Tuesday, 12 April 2016


The Government and Morals Committee of Presbytery have been engaged in on-going correspondence with government departments and other bodies on the moral issues of the day.

In November last year a play was staged as part of the Outburst Queer Arts festival in Belfast called, The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven" The preview of the play on the Outburst festival website described how in the play there was a "revolutionary queer ritual in which bread is shared, wine is drunk and familiar stories are re-imagined by a transgender Jesus."

The Bible reveals the Lord Jesus Christ as the King of Kings and Lord of Lord’s and the eternal Son of God. The title “Queen of Heaven” is only used in the Bible in the book of Jeremiah to describe a heathen goddess whom God condemned. Furthermore the Bible teaches that homosexuality and transgender is sin. The play was a blasphemy against the Saviour whom we love and serve.

The Government and Morals Committee contacted various government departments and bodies who were listed as having sponsored this play. Among those contacted were, the Arts Council, which distributes funds from the National Lottery, Belfast City Council, The Department of Culture Arts and Leisure, The Department of Social Development and the Public Health Agency.

It was pointed out to each that under Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act public bodies have obligations relating to promoting good relations between people of different religious beliefs, ethnic origins, and political opinions. The Government and Morals Committee indicated that for the LGBT lobby to portray the Son of God, as something other than who He is does nothing to promote good relations. Rather it is our belief that it was their direct intention to make a mockery of Christ.

The Presbytery Committee received a number of replies, a couple of which denied that they had done anything that was contrary to section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act and urging that the Government and Morals Committee take the matter to the Equality Commission or the PSNI if they thought the law had been breached.

The reply that was most dismissive was that from the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure, which said that they supported the artist’s right to freedom of expression. The Arts Council stated that they took their obligations under section 75 very seriously but seemed to think that its only obligation under section 75 was “to promote equality of opportunity between persons of different religious beliefs.” However they look to have ignored the second section of the Act, which says, “a public authority shall in carrying out its functions relating to Northern Ireland have regard to the desirability of promoting good relations between persons of different religious belief, political opinion or racial group.

Belfast City Council appeared to want to distance themselves from the event and said that their contribution was part of an overall support given to the Community Festivals Fund and that they did not specifically support this event. They also pointed out that the Outburst Programme contains the statement views expressed through Outburst events are not necessarily shared or endorsed by our funders, sponsors or partners.  The letter seemed to imply that the views of the play were not those of Belfast City Council.

The most satisfactory reply was from the Department of Social Development, which said that they had reviewed their procedures to ensure greater scrutiny of event programmes in the future.

It is hoped that our protest will result in greater scrutiny of events and that this kind of blasphemy will not be supported by public money in the future. We would ask you to pray for the Government and Morals Committee, which has the job of replying to government consultations on moral issues and of making our voice heard when issues like this arise.