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.”
LIST: THE 77 CLERGY FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY
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.”
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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.”
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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.
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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.
READ KEVIN RUDD’S ANNOUNCEMENT IN FULL
“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.”
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