Church leaders come out

Ministers take aim at religious extremists: we accept equality
July 08, 2013 4:53PM

Ministers have expressed their sentiments for same-sex marriage.
CHRISTIAN ministers have spoken out in support of same-sex marriage in stark contrast to comments from the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) claiming Kevin Rudd has lost the support of the Church.

Pentecostal and Evangelical Christians, along with Catholics, expressed anger at Mr Rudd last week, telling News Limited they would turn their backs on him at the next election for his pro-stance on gay marriage.

Mr Rudd is the first Australian Prime Minister to endorse gay marriage.

But a letter sent to Australian Marriage Equality (AME) from Uniting, Baptist, Anglican, Jewish, Buddhist and other faith groups has revealed a different side to the story.

The letter, which “encouraged people of faith to support marriage equality” during last year’s failed attempt to legalise same-sex marriage by amending the Marriage Act, featured 77 signatures from Ministers across the country.

“How can I, a heterosexual who’s been very happily married for 50 years, tell anyone else they don’t have the right to form a loving, committed, lifelong union and enjoy the fruits of marriage as I have done?” wrote Reverend Dr Rowland Croucher, from John Mark Ministries, Victoria.

“Marriage is not a club to be restricted to some. Like the Gospel, it is a blessing to be shared.”


And there’s more coming out of the closet, so to speak.

The ACL believes it not only handed Mr Rudd the Prime Ministership in the 2007 election, but also played a part in his recent reprisal against Julia Gillard.

A letter from the Australian Christian Lobby lists “defending marriage” on their list of recent work. Pic: Twitter @_struct
“There would be many people in the Christian constituency who would have seen Kevin Rudd for many years holding press conferences outside church, defending marriage, then suddenly change his mind because of the whims of pop culture,” Australian Christian Lobby managing director Lyle Shelton told News Limited’s Jessica Marszalek.

Now a number of Christians are publicly speaking out against the ACL, claiming the Lobby is no longer a voice of the people.

“The majority of Australian Christians who support marriage equality are pleased to see Australia has a Christian Prime Minister who represents their views”, Sydney-based Baptist Minister Reverend Mike Hercock said.

“Kevin Rudd’s support for these core Christian values will win him far more support from Christians than he will lose from those who oppose marriage equality.”

“Christians support marriage equality for a range of reasons including because we believe in commitment in relationships, we value equality and we respect human dignity.”


Doing the press rounds last week Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese stamped the Government’s approval of same-sex marriage, saying he believed Labor “would make same-sex marriage a reality”.

“For them it’s very important. I think it’s important not just symbolically, the message it sends to young people who happen to have a sexual preference for someone of the same gender is that somehow given the quality isn’t there, that somehow something is wrong with that.

“Society as a whole benefits when people are treated with dignity and respect and as equals, and that’s all really that this debate is about.”


Last month Mr Rudd – who has labelled religious folk as “god-botherer’s” – implied the notion of a referendum as a means to an end on the issue; that’s if Opposition Leader Tony Abbott continues to deny his MPs the choice and right to vote.

As yet there is no committed answer on when and how.

Australian Minister Ian Hunter, right and Leith Semmens react as they leave the Pabellon de los Artes center after getting married in the town of Jun, southern Spain, last December. Hunter, a Labor minister in the South Australian government, married his longtime partner in southern Spain, two months after Australia voted down a proposal to enact same sex marriage legislation. He is believed to be the first sitting member of an Australian legislative body to marry a gay partner.
It’s no secret the religious vote has been invaluable to both major parties in previous years but divided opinions within the Church brings an uncertain outcome on the vote.

“I think there’s always a potential for people to be rather dismayed when a person has a particular view that’s keeping with the timeless wisdom and understanding of an important social institution of marriage and then all of a sudden walks away from it,” director of the Catholic Church’s Life, Marriage and Family Centre in Sydney, Chris Meney said.


But folks such as Gary Bouma, who is an Emeritus Professor of Sociology and president of the Australian Association for the Study of Religions, have become the unlikely political swing vote of the 2013 election.

“As an Anglican Priest I support marriage equality because the committed same-sex relationships I know show all the strengths, issues and beautiful love of the heterosexual relationships I know,” he said.

“Friends of mine who have been together for years are planning their marriage in Spain where this is legal. I only wish as an Anglican Priest that I could be there to bless them. I grieve for many friends in Australia who cannot do this, to whom the very real benefits of marriage are denied.”

Mr Rudd announced his change of stance via a blog post in May in which he credited advocates, daughter Jessica and a whole lot of reflection for his decision that Church and State should be separate.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd with his first grandchild Josephine and his daughter Jessica in his Canberra office at Parliament House last month.
He also said he believes homosexuality is not an abnormality, unlike the commonly held Christian view.

“What constitutes for me a credible Christian view of same-sex marriage, and is such a view amenable to change?” he wrote.

“I have long resisted going with the growing tide of public opinion just for the sake of it. Those who know me well know that I have tried in good conscience to deal with the ethical fundamentals of the issue and reach an ethical conclusion.


“My core interest is to be clear-cut about the change in my position locally on this highly controversial issue before the next election, so that my constituents are fully aware of my position when they next visit the ballot box. That, I believe, is the right thing to do.”

Continue the conversation via Twitter @KRuddMP | @the_mattyoung | @newscomauHQ

11 thoughts on “Church leaders come out

  1. Matthew 7 24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

  2. Rudd,
    Mr Rudd announced his change of stance via a blog post in May in which he credited advocates, daughter Jessica and a whole lot of reflection for his decision that Church and State should be separate.

    Which completely misses the point of what it means for Church and State to be separate! Astonishing! And this bloke is our PM!

    So, instead of making sure the State doesn’t interfere with the Church, or produce a State run Church, such as the the Three-Self Church of China, which is Government controlled in an ultra-sociallist State, he dictates the terms on which Christian marriage should be instituted.

    He fails to even consider consulting with Church leaders, and touts legislation with his newly selected deputy, mostly in an attempt at wedge politics to gain support, because, as i see it, this man doesn’t give a rip about marriage from either a Christian or a gay perspective, only about his position as the socialist three-self head of a nation. Rudd the Father, Rudd the Son, and Rudd the Highly Spirited.

    He approaches the issue from a pseudo-Christian perspective and applies secular conditions to the Church.

    In UK, where the Church and State are shown to not be separate by Parliament’s insistence that the CofE adopt gay marriage rites for the Church, and insist on priests being available to conduct marriages between same-sex partners in the sanctuaries, the CofE churches have had to swallow the bitter pill, for mast o them, of being told what to do by Parliament.

    How long before gay and lesbian activism pressures churchmen into church ceremonies in Australia, too.

    God save Australia from this man.

  3. he dictates the terms on which Christian marriage should be instituted.

    No, he is making public his position on government recognized marriage…nothing whatsoever to do with Christian marriage Steve.

  4. That’s a bizarre post by Steve, who wants the government to defend ‘Christian’ marriage in his retarded view of separation of Church and State.

    Btw from the Cof E

    Same-sex Marriage and the Church of England

    The following explanatory note may be helpful in the context of yesterday’s Government statement and subsequent press coverage.

    In her statement to the House of Commons on 11th December on the Government’s proposals for Equal Marriage, the Secretary of State said:

    “because the Church of England and Wales have explicitly stated that they do not wish to conduct same-sex marriages the legislation will explicitly state that it would be illegal for the Churches of England and Wales to marry same-sex couples. Mr Speaker, this provision recognises and protects the unique and Established nature of these churches. The church’s canon law will also continue to ban the marriage of same-sex couples. Therefore, even if these institutions wanted to conduct same sex marriage, it would require a change to primary legislation at a later date and a change to canon law. Additional protection that cannot be breached.”

    Press and political commentary on this has given rise to the impression that extra safeguards have been put in place for the Church of England, which give legal protection above and beyond that for other denominations and faiths. Some have said that this amounts to Government deciding to give preferential treatment to the Church of England on the question of legal protection for religious organisations not wishing to perform same-sex marriages. Others have questioned why the Government should explicitly write in to primary legislation that it would be “illegal” for the Church of England to perform same sex marriages when it will not be so for other denominations and faiths, taking this to mean that it places additional legislative barriers in the way of the Church of England in the unlikely event that it should wish to change its current position.

    Such questions are understandable, but are based on a misunderstanding of the Church of England’s established status and its relationship with Parliament on matters relating to Canon Law.

    This is not a question of the Government and Parliament imposing a prohibition or “ban” on what the Church of England can do. It is instead the Government responding to the Church’s wish to see the status quo for the Church of England preserved and accepting, as for other churches and faiths (though the legal framework is different for them), that it is not for the Government and Parliament to determine matters of doctrine.

    As explained in the Church of England’s submission to the Government’s consultation in June 2012, the Canons of the Church of England define marriage, in accordance with Christ’s teaching and the doctrine of the Church, as being between a man and a woman. Because the Canon Law of the Church of England is also part of the public law of the land and cannot be in conflict with statute law, it is important that any legislation for same-sex marriage makes it clear that it does not apply to marriage according to the rites of the Church of England. The legislative drafting of what is needed for the Church of England is necessarily unique because of that; and because Church of England clergy normally have a legal duty to marry people by virtue of their office. The Government, in accepting that the legal effect of the Canons of the Church of England need to be preserved (in line with its assertions about protection of religious liberty), have committed to drafting legislation on same sex marriage accordingly.

    The effect of what the Government has proposed is to leave decisions about the doctrine and practice of the Church of England with the Church of England. Any change to the Church of England’s doctrine and practice of marriage would require legislation by the Church’s General Synod. In addition to an Amending Canon that redefined the nature of marriage such a legislative package would also involve the General Synod passing a Measure (the General Synod’s equivalent of an Act of Parliament) that altered both the statute law concerning marriage according to the rites Church of England and the marriage service in the Book of Common Prayer.

    All Synod Measures require parliamentary consent. The usual process of parliamentary scrutiny for legislation submitted by the Church is that it goes first to the Ecclesiastical Committee and then has a single debate in each House before the Measure goes for Royal Assent. As the General Synod’s devolved legislative powers includes the ability to amend Westminster legislation it would not require separate, additional legislation on the part of Parliament to enact any change to the Church’s practice on marriage. Talk of additional ‘barriers to opt-in’ for the Church of England following the Secretary of State’s announcement is therefore misplaced.

    For Parliament to give the Church of England an opt-in to conduct same sex marriages that it hasn’t sought would be unnecessary, of doubtful constitutional propriety and introduce wholly avoidable confusion.

    In addition, as the Bishop of Leicester said in the House of Lords on 11th December in response to the Government statement “our concern here is not primarily for religious conscience or the protection of the Church of England’s position, but rather a more fundamental concern for stable communities”. The arguments set out in the Church of England’s submission in June to the Government’s consultation spell out those concerns in detail.,-family-and-sexuality-issues/same-sex-marriage/same-sex-marriage-and-the-church-of-england-an-explanatory-note.aspx

    The sky is falling!

    Btw there are heaps of perks in being a State Church.

  5. Words and waffle explanation politically, Bones. The Church of England is not separate from the State.

    There is no separation in the Australian constitution, but an understanding that there will be no State religion imposed on people. That is separation of Church and State.

    It has nothing to do with what Rudd is saying, which is that the Church should have no say in the affairs of the State. Therefore, he decrees, it should not tell the people what marriage is or isn’t.

    But the Church should have a say in any free enterprise, including politics and legislation creation, just as the Gay Lobby should, and even the ACL, or Gays for Polygamous Relationships, or Catch the Fire, or whoever. It’s a free country. Well it is at present.

    And we’ve had this argument, anyway on other threads. This is just a recycling of one of Greg’s pet causes, so ‘m not really interested in going over the same old ground, year after year, especially with the SP02 pro-gay marriage chorus.

    Rudd is Mr Popular. We’ve seen what he can do with a nation. His own party had enough of him. Do you rally think he’s changed much? No, he’s just a populist with no real idea of how to run a country.

  6. Its really quite simple. Either Paul got it right or he was wrong. He said, so I am assured, that God abandons folk to their lusts to pursue them (you know Steve, the sin unto death, the sin which we as believers we are enjoined by John not to pray for, lest we become an amateur providence, aka, a rescuer).

    All such usurp God’s creative holy hegemony and determine their own outcomes by their own will and according to the exercising of their own consciences. They in effect prevent God from being God by expecting Him to ratify their rationale rather than rectify their rectitude.

    But it is merely one of a slew of sins which mire humanity in depravity, none particularly worse than any other and all worthy of death. However, what is worse though than all these sins,and it is the judgment of them by another human being, which is self righteousness, the rankest sin of all, if there is a rank to sins, and to sinners.

    And before someone climbs in with Paul saying he was the chiefest of sinners, he was actually talking about the saving grace of Jesus toward sinners, of which he said that he was the, or a, prime example. Rank that revelation.
    15. Faithful is that Manifestation and deserving is He to be received, that Jesus Christ came to the universe to bring back to Life sinners, of whom I am a prime example.

  7. Rudd is Mr Popular.

    No. Rudd is vastly more preferred than Abbott which says a lot about Abbott and his demonisation of refugees and politics of negativity.

    If Turnbull was opposition leader it would be game over.

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