We live in a more equal Ireland today than we did this day last month. Not more equal in the sense that homelessness and economic injustice have been ended, but more equal in that everyone has the right to marry whosoever they choose. This development is overdue and to be welcomed. We would like to hope that everyone who voted in last week’s Marriage Equality referendum did so in accordance with their own conscience, and that each person made the effort to inform their conscience as much as they could. Perhaps this is too much to ask from an entire country; there will always be those on either side of any debate who will vote one way or the other no matter what. In a question such as Marriage Equality, sadly, there will always be some directed by prejudice and bigotry. We call this Democracy and it is the ‘best system that we have.’ So what of those who voted against this equality; are they all bigots? According to a vocal section of our society it is true – those who voted No did so because they are bigots, and the principle target of this charge is that section of the Christian community who campaigned for a No vote.
If we are to accept this narrative then the Church – both Catholic and Protestant – is a bigoted institution that must now be removed from society and the political sphere. After all, this is the age of free speech. To some extent this makes me one of the bad guys. Historically the Church has stood against gay rights, and because the institutions of the Church have been found wanting in innumerable abuse scandals – many of a sexually abusive nature where children and vulnerable people have been the victims – this narrative of the wicked Church must be uncritically adopted. It wasn’t good enough that many Christians, including academics and senior clerics, openly campaigned for Marriage Equality. The Church – all of it – still raped children! That a man was refused the cake he ordered from a Christian baker in Northern Ireland is conclusive evidence proving that Christianity is rotten to its core. It matters little that this was not a wedding cake, but a mock wedding cake for a Marriage Equality political event. It matters little that the Christian owners of the family business were not representatives of the Church, or that they followed their consciences. It does not matter that it is still unclear whether or not this bakery was targeted to make an example. The Church – the community of the Christians and the Christian faith – must be brought down because they are all the same.