Paul Givan: a Christian or a hypocrite?


The DUP’s Paul Givan  was on TV a fe weeks ago talking about his move to insert a Conscience clause in legislation which would protect people  like the Ashers. You remember the Ashers: they’re the people who  in all conscience couldn’t respond to a gay couple cake request, because it clashed with their values. As I listened,  it  became clear that Mr Givan was one of two things: a sincere (if slightly dim) Christian, or a ruthless politician using religion to hoover up votes.

Let’s take the sincere (if slightly dim) Christian possibility first. It looks like a convincing argument. If you have a conscientious objection to something, it’s surely unreasonable that the law should force you to act against your conscience or else go out of business. If you’re opposed to homosexuality, you can hardly be asked to produce a cake urging support of gay marriage, can you?

So now let’s test Mr Givan’s seemingly-reasonable notion as potential material for law. Supposing the cake-buyer had requested a cake with a political slogan rather than a gay slogan – say, oh I don’t know,  ‘Toicfaidh ár lá’, maybe.  Would we expect them to comply with that? Not if they had unionist views. Or supposing it was ‘Support Sinn Féin’? Um, no, again for obvious reasons. What about if they were supporters of the DUP and it said ‘Re-elect Naomi Long in East Belfast’ – should they be allowed to refuse that?  Um, no. Never, never, never, never.

OK, let’s look at  the B and B owners thing of this. A gay couple present themselves at a B and B and seek lodgings for the night. Would the Christian B and B owners be entitled to turn them away? Mmm. Or make it easier: if they were a heterosexual couple but unmarried, could the Christian B and B owners  say “No, afraid not”? What  if the  B and B owners were sincere DUP supporters, would they be entitled to turn away two guests if they declared themselves natives of East Belfast and supporters of Naomi Long?

Or let’s take the provision of non-cake goods. Supposing a gay couple enters you clothing store and want to purchase a suit each for their wedding – would you be entitled to refuse? How about if they just wanted a shirt each? A hanky? Or if you were a purveyor of toilet rolls  (  like the ones Gregory Campbell spoke of using a while back)  – would you be entitled to tell these two gays to try elsewhere?

Or picture yourself running a bike rental place and a gay guy comes in and says he wants to rent a bike for two hours, he’s planning to cycle to the country where he’ll meet  his lover – could you show him the door? What about if you were a taxi-man – could you lock your doors from the inside? And would you not in all conscience be entitled to ask all potential fare-paying customers “Are you gay? And if so, are you going to meet your lover?”  Supposing you were a devout Orange Order taxi driver, would  you be entitled to refuse a fare who said s/he was going to a chapel where the Popish idolatry of the Mass was be celebrated? Come to that, would you be entitled to refuse them a job? After all, making it possible for them to make a living might mean they’d get married and bring more Catholics into the world and instil in them the same theology that’d send them straight to Hell?

So you can see why I wonder if Mr Givan is a sincere but slightly dim Christian. Because only a slightly dim Christian would argue for a law that would end in absurdity. If you say the cake-makers can say ‘Nay’ or the B and B people can produce a similar ‘Nay’, where do you stop extending it?  You’d soon have painted so many areas of goods and services out of bounds to so many people, you’d be sore pressed to earn the smallest of crusts.

Or maybe Mr Givan isn’t a sincere (but slightly dim) Christian after all. Maybe he’s  a ruthless  and slightly hypocritical politician,  pretending to take a Christian stand  while playing to that part of the electorate which sighs for tied-up swings on the Sabbath and the dear dead days when  everyone knew their place.

I peer and peer at a picture of the fresh-faced Mr Givan and do you know what?   I just can’t tell.

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10 Responses to Paul Givan: a Christian or a hypocrite?

  1. James Strawbridge February 17, 2015 at 9:05 am #

    I agree with your analysis /sentiment. As a lawyer I would suggest people read the UK Supreme Court decision concerning the B&B case.

    If I was instructed, to defend Ashers, (God forbid for them and God forgive the pun) the distinction may be drawn that you are asking another individual to express (on a cake) and to some extent endorse a specific rights movement. There is a distinction to be drawn if a couple of person presented themselves seeking only a wedding cake with no explicit expression or endorsement. Refusal in that scenario would be more in line with the B and B case and would be a much more likely winner before the courts – in my opinion of the current legal position.

  2. Freddy Mallins February 17, 2015 at 9:18 am #

    Jude, I honestly don’t know if Givan is sincere. I do know that he and his acolytes are determined to keep NI mired in the past. To them, change is bad, even of the enlightened variety. This conscience Clause or “anti-anyone-different-to-us” clause must be rejected for what it is. We need to show the likes if Givan that their views are anathema to fair minded people. Whether it’s anti-gay, anti-catholic, anti-Islamic or anti-black. We just don’t accept your proposed way of life, Paul. Live with those views in your heart if you must, but please do not have the arrogance to force them upon the rest of us by way of legislation.

  3. paddykool February 17, 2015 at 9:24 am #

    “Or maybe Mr Givan isn’t a sincere (but slightly dim) Christian after all. Maybe he’s a ruthless and slightly hypocritical politician, pretending to take a Christian stand while playing to that part of the electorate which sighs for tied-up swings on the Sabbath and the dear dead days when everyone knew their place.”….

    Ah Jude you’re making the denizens of Norneverland think too much .It’ll only end up with their wee braims exploding . Life used to be so simple didn’t it? The good old days when you could abuse children and smack the divil out of them; when Sundays were chaste, quiet and boring as …Hell….when Hell existed even !When the Sabbath was really Sunday and not Saturday or even Wednesday…..When god gazed down and made daned sure that you were behaving yourselves…The good old days when Rock Hudson was really just a good looking fella who girls could swoon over and Liberace was just some sparkly eccentric who played the piano and loved his dear old mum…a time when homosexuality was not allowed and they could all be discriminated against and gaoled if needs be ; when black was black and white was white except when it was on the “Black and White Minstrel Show”…..and then all bets were off.
    I find it particularly creepy when I see some young man such as Mr Givan encouraging another generation into a black hole of foolishness and political/religious bigotry. It always makes me feel that although he can walk and talk and even lie to himself and others, that somehow his education has had such a narrow focus that he really cannot see where a bill such as he aspires to would lead to nothing but bigotry and chaos .What kind of political ambition and religious narrow-mindedness drives a young man down this narrow corridor to the lunatic asylum? Does he really want this world of chaos that he’s trying to establish and does he not see that it has no place in a modern society? What kind of books does a guy like that read?

  4. neill February 17, 2015 at 9:26 am #

    Your beginning to slip Jude i know your article is good but to repeat it….

    • Jude Collins February 17, 2015 at 6:29 pm #

      Very good, neill. Like New York namers, I named it twice. Owing to the enormous load of worry I carry around for the common good. Anyway, isn’t it like having a second drink? The same thing only nicer.

  5. Sherdy February 17, 2015 at 12:06 pm #

    Jude, why is it that these things are not as simple as we might like?
    We are told that the gay couple in question just wanted a suitable wedding cake.
    But to do that they drove from Bangor to Glengormley, passing God knows how many good capable bakers en route, to arrive at one where they had a good idea they might cause a problem.
    So did they just want a cake or did they want to provoke a reaction?
    As far as Paul Givan is concerned, I think it is quite clear which category he falls into.
    Have you ever seen the smug, sneering expression on his face when preaching to us in Stormont?
    He thinks he is the cat that got the cream and would almost lick himself to death.
    That said, I couldn’t give him the benefit of any doubt – there is no doubt. He stands firmly in the latter option you give.

  6. ben madigan February 17, 2015 at 1:13 pm #

    knowing that paul givan is a member of the caleb foundation network may provide some insights into his thought processes

    see also some thoughts on the political background, aims and influence of the caleb foundation

  7. Mark Kane January 16, 2017 at 12:34 pm #

    You are afraid Jude, to say what’s really going on because you write and you are paid to say or not say certain things. I am not paid to say what I am going to say. Paul Givan isn’t even a smart man but he is a dangerous man, a bigot who has abused the power he shouldn’t have in the first place. He is a bigot and he isn’t worth these sentences I pen and i wish you journalists and politicians and chat show hosts ( i’m thinking Caruthers here) could tell him straight to his face as you look into his untruthful eyes, ‘You Givan are a bigot.’ The money he dished out and didn’t dish out as part of his political duties is one very definite example of this bigotry, c.f. the Irish News this week. It’s as simple as an equation. Equations don’t however elicit the kinds of emotions this bigot Givan does. And then there’s Arlene and the fiasco that is Arlene……

    • Jude Collins January 16, 2017 at 1:40 pm #

      You are right, Mark, that I am afraid, but not “because you write and you are paid to say or not say certain things”. If you can tell me who these people are that you believe are paying me, I’ll send them a bill for past unpaid work. The fear I have is of landing in a court of law. I have virtually no respect for Mr Givan – or if there is a negative number on the scale, that’s where I’d attach him. I agree the money he has doled out looks suspiciously as though he is favouring one part of the community over another.

      • Mark Kane January 16, 2017 at 3:14 pm #

        My apologies Jude, I mistakenly thought you were paid under the auspices of ‘journalist’ for your

        journalistic output. And I further apologise if I came across angrily; if there were undertones of that,

        it was towards Mr Givan (not you) who is ‘clearly’ abusing his political power, flaunting it more like .

        I understand that you have to walk very thin wires when putting your point of view across. No

        matter what all our political and historical allegiances are, it can’t be denied that we have all come

        a long way from the dark days of division and suspicion and Mr Givan’s stupidity and bigotry is a

        step right back into the dead centre of those dark days. I shudder that we should ever go back

        there again.