Ireland: Presbyterian Church Votes Against Gay Membership

The Presbyterian Church in Ireland is the largest Protestant denomination in Northern Ireland. Like most Christian churches in Ireland, it is organized on an all-island basis, in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The church has approximately 225,000 members.

At its annual meeting in Belfast, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland has adopted a new policy that means anyone in a same-sex relationship cannot be a full member of the Church. That also means that their children cannot be baptized.

The committee's report said: “In light of our understanding of scripture and the Church's understanding of a credible profession of faith, it is clear that same-sex couples are not eligible for communicant membership nor are they qualified to receive baptism for their children. We believe that their outward conduct and lifestyle is at variance with a life of obedience to Christ.”

As BBC reports, a church spokesman insisted that same-sex couples will not be prevented from attending worship, coming into church, receiving communion, or having access to pastoral care.

“On many issues the church provides guidance to our ministers and elders in Kirk sessions and we wanted to consider what a credible profession of faith means for same-sex couples who want to become communicant members of the church,” he added.

“The same principle also applies to everyone, regardless of background or circumstance and those who want to baptize their children.”

The church previously agreed to distance itself from the Church of Scotland, because of its more liberal views on same-sex relationships. Actually, the Church of Scotland has voted last month to draft new laws that would allow ministers to conduct same-sex marriages. The Rev Bryan Kerr’s motion, as amended, was passed 345 to 170 at the general assembly in Edinburgh. Earlier in the week its general assembly agreed to strongly oppose any legislation that allows assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Alliance Party leader and Presbyterian, Naomi Long, has criticized the general assembly’s decision.

“As a Presbyterian this grieves me greatly: my heart is broken today,” she wrote on Twitter. “I can only imagine the hurt this has caused to those from the LGBT community. It does not reflect the views of so many of us who love, respect and value you as family, friends and members of our community.”

Photo Credits: StaticFlickr

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