At the Lit last week Ron Rye, Minister at Ardbeg Baptist Church, gave an uncompromising lecture on his personal view of the current debate on the forthcoming Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill 2013.
He voiced his sadness at how the Christian denominations are at odds with both society and with each other as they respond to the dichotomies around political correctness, non discrimination and the interpretation of Biblical teaching. The polarisation of opinions has led to insults flying.
This was an unusual topic for the members of the Lit but Ron carefully and eloquently set out his proposition and marshalled his arguments clearly, starting by sketching in the historical relationship between Church and State.
Where marriage is concerned these great institutions have, over time, reached the point where ministers of religion are undertaking the State’s role of registering and recording, for tax and name changing purposes, neither of which have anything to do with faith. Church ministers may now be faced with conducting marriages of same sex couples, or, if they decline, being accused of discrimination. Although nominally legally protected in the proposed Bill, the latter position would inevitably be challenged through all the available court systems right up to the European Court of Human Rights.
* For more, see tomorrow’s Buteman.