The loss of any liberty diminishes us because it is the essence of liberal democracy. But the loss of the freedom to exercise the religious conscience is particularly apocalyptic.
Ashers did not decline to sell Mr Lee a cake on the grounds of his sexuality; they declined to make a cake with a slogan which sinned against their conscience, seared by the Holy Spirit. They would have refused to make this cake if the customer had been heterosexual, bisexual, pansexual or asexual. Mr Lee’s sexuality was irrelevant to Ashers: it was the religio-political slogan which, they felt, crossed that threshold between moral orthodoxy and heresy, and so Mr Lee’s order, in all conscience, had to be declined.