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Friday 26th June, 2009
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Letters to the Editor

Human sexuality

In Dermot O’Callaghan’s letter, published in the Gazette of 5th June, he claims to be a seeker after the truth. He then undermines that claim by introducing what I can only interpret as inflammatory statements, attempting to paint gay people with the brush of "incest" and, worse still, accusing us of putting "every child at risk".

This is dangerous language. Although violent homophobia is gradually on the decrease, it is still all too frequently a reality. Most people seem to have forgotten that Iris Robinson’s outrageous comments about gay people a year ago were occasioned by a brutal homophobic attack in Newtownabbey which left Stephen Scott in hospital; an attack for which no charges have yet been brought. The hard truth is that many Christians have stoked this violent hatred by using inflammatory language to make arguments which could just as effectively be made in more measured terms.

Over the years, I have seen Mr O’Callaghan repeatedly refute any suggestion that he is a homophobe, and say instead that he speaks out of loving concern for gay people. If he wishes this claim to have any credibility, I suggest he moderates or modifies his language.

As for Mr O’Callaghan’s comments on bisexuality, let me set the record straight. Changing Attitude Ireland, as a Christian organisation, believes the Christian ideal for everyone - gay, bisexual or heterosexual - is permanent, lifelong, fidelity to one partner. No, we don’t believe bisexuals could have bigamous relationships blessed by the Church. Can we now lay this red herring to rest?

Gerry Lynch

Changing Attitude Ireland

64 Donegall Street

Belfast

With reference to your Changing Attitude Ireland report (Gazette, 29th May), just where would the august Seanad Éireann be without the pontifications of Senator Norris?

Whilst I actually agree with Senator Norris in respect of the absurdity of blessing pets, etc., in respect of his decrying the exclusion by the Church of the blessing of same-sex unions, surely the logical extension of his argument is that all loving unions should merit official Church sanction and blessing, including inter-familial relationships.

For good measure, the old red herrings of the Levitican Code are perennially thrown in to suppress any reasonable debate. However, for the tired record, Acts 10, 11 should help quell eternal damnation in the event of mistakenly eating a prawn cocktail, and John 8 should relieve any potential adultresses of their fear of being stoned to death. That should suffice for the moment.

Contrary to Dr O’Leary’s contention of prejudice by the Church against all things LGBT, I would argue that the Church is obliged to defer to Scripture, which clearly excludes any union outwith that of a man and a woman in marriage. If I am wrong, then surely it is the responibility of Archbishop Harper to issue a full, formal apology to all members militant and triumphant of the LGBT community for the wrongs the Church has inflicted upon them.

The Church has been steadily sleepwalking into this supposed ‘equality’ agenda for some time due to its insipid ambivalence. In not fawning to this self-styled liberal ideology, I, and my ilk, are immediately marginalised as ‘homophobes’ and ‘gay bashers’. However, we too have the right not to agree with this modernist, non-scriptural orthodoxy; to sit back and not oppose it would make us just as guilty as our spiritless clerical non-leaders.

William Cardwell

6 Pinecroft Park

Lisburn

BT28 3LG

Thought for the Day

I read with interest last August (2008) the correspondence in your columns with regard to the under-representation of the Church of Ireland on BBC Radio Ulster’s Thought for the Day. I was disappointed with Dr Tosh’s bland reply, so since then, I have tried to monitor the names of the Monday– Friday contributors on Good Morning Ulster and find little to convince me that our Church is as well represented as it should be.

Could it be perhaps due to the fact that for decades now the production of all the religious programmes on BBC Radio Ulster has been in the hands only of Presbyterians and Roman Catholics whose contacts are limited?

I would like to know whether the Church’s broadcasting committee has followed up the valuable correspondence with its own individual analysis of the situation, or whether the bishops have expressed a view on the subject?

Having said all that, I would have to say that William Crawley’s Sunday Sequence programme is of the highest standard and that there are few of my acquaintances who would ever miss Noel Battye’s very excellent Sounds Sacred on a Sunday afternoon - indeed, it is a time of mourning when he is off the air in the summer months. So thank you to the BBC for two such programmes.

Bradley Johnston

Upper Newtownards Road

Belfast 4

Anglican Church in North America

I suppose I should not be surprised that the Church of Ireland Evangelical Fellowship has sent a message of support to the Anglican Church in North America (Gazette, 12th June). I see that the Fellowship includes in its membership bishops who presumably agree with the sentiments expressed in the message.

It gives me great concern that there are bishops of the Church of Ireland who are thus giving support and encouragement to those whose actions have further fractured the Body of Christ. I am sure that I am not the only member of the Church of Ireland who will be hoping for reassurance from all our bishops that this is not the case.

Gerald Williams

8 Gloucester Avenue

Donaghadee

Co. Down

BT21 OJA