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No freedom of conscience to have a gay marriage

I was encouraged to read Peter Lynas’ letter in support of “freedom of conscience and religion” in Northern Ireland (May 10).

 

These freedoms are, as I am sure all in the Evangelical Alliance agree, a vital part of a fair society.

 

Leaving aside the issue of the cake, I want to remind everyone that there are gay Christians who support same-sex marriage, and there are gay Christians who want to get married in their own churches.

 

At the moment, the law of Northern Ireland prevents this. There is no freedom of conscience or religion on this issue.

 

I am sure I hold religious views that Peter disagrees with, and doubtless he holds religious views that I disagree with. Yet we can both agree that we should have the freedom to practise our religion, and that the law should no more restrict my religious practice than it should restrict his.

 

I hope and pray that Peter Lynas, the Evangelical Alliance, and all members of the newly-elected Assembly fully support freedom of conscience and religion, and that together we can bring same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland, bringing about a more free society with greater freedom of conscience and religion than we currently have.

 

If the Evangelical Alliance would like to work with Faith and Pride on this issue I am sure we could work together. Whatever our differences, we all surely believe in freedom of conscience and religion.

 

Andrew McFarland Campbell, Founder, Faith and Pride

 

Letter originally published in the News Letter.

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Religious Freedom in Today’s Society

I have had a letter published in the Belfast Telegraph.

Religious freedom is a cornerstone of a free society. The law must not treat any one set of beliefs more favourably than another.

Imagine the outrage if the law said that, because some churches opposed inter-denominational marriages, then no church may perform one. This would (rightly) be seen as an infringement on religious freedom.

In Northern Ireland today, some churches oppose same-sex marriage. Others do not. Yet, curiously, the law only accommodates those churches opposing it.

If a Christian same-sex couple wants to get married in their church, and the church wants to perform that marriage, they cannot. The law dictates how the members of that church are allowed to practise their religion.

In recent months, there has been a huge upwelling of support for the freedom of conscience for the owners of Ashers Bakery. The freedom of conscience of people in places of worship must be at least as important as the freedom of conscience of people in places of work.

Until the law is changed and the churches that want to perform same-sex marriage are allowed to perform same-sex marriage, freedom of conscience in worship is severely restricted in Northern Ireland.

ANDREW McFARLAND CAMPBELL

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