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Jun 27, 2012

Free speech gets a workout at Christian marriage clash

It was an ugly scene more reminiscent of the 1957 Little Rock Nine than a movement on the right side of history. Crikey goes to church to hear the anti-gay marriage sermon.


It was an ugly scene more reminiscent of the 1957 Little Rock Nine than a movement on the right side of history. A mother shielded her young daughter through a jeering picket line that pointed and shouted “Shame! Bigot!”

Uniformed police kept a low profile but stayed until all visitors to Melbourne’s CrossCulture Church of Christ were inside. Just one man reacted to the taunts. “You don’t know where I’ve come from!” he shot back visibly upset and walked away to cool off before slipping inside.

They had come to watch the Australian Christian Lobby’s “Defining Marriage” panel, broadcast to more than 500 churches across Australia. But only this church had a protest, it being on Equal Love Victoria’s patch and down the road from the Lygon Street restaurant they harassed Tony Abbott at earlier this year.

Inside, senior pastor Rob Keller told visitors to respect that they may be sitting next to someone with a different view on gay marriage or marriage equality, making a point to use the term preferred by those protesting outside. In this church, noted for its multiculturalism, refugee advocacy and Muslim outreach, all were welcome. It even counts ex-gay members who controversially claim to have left behind homosexuality.

CrossCulture isn’t a member of ACL. Keller said the church took the position that marriage should excluded same-sex couples, but the decision to air the ACL broadcast was to help inform voters about the issues and encourage debate.

Calling it a debate was misnomer, as everybody invited by the ACL had the same view. “Jesus’ view on sex was that it was not simply a matter of personal self-indulgence,” pastor Dr Allan Meyer said. “Everybody is called in Jesus’ thinking to see sex as an issue that was created for the purpose of marriage and everybody else is called to a life of chastity and I know that creates challenges for everyone of us, heterosexual and same-sex attracted.”

John Anderson, former Nationals leader, called for civility and respect for freedom of speech and belief, saying that in a pluralist society with separated church and state “we cannot impose our will on others, but we have both the absolute right to put forward our world view as do everybody else, and lastly that it be respectfully heard and considered”.

The West is in deep trouble, Anderson argued, and Australia should reject the argument that it is falling behind on a human rights issue. The countries that did go in that direction were just “a few isolated communities, in a particular point in time, that just happened to be in the West, a culture that’s lost its way, cut itself free from its moorings and is very unsure what it believes in and at the same time is evidently in serious trouble”. Christians acting true to their beliefs were being loving, he asserted, like when Christians ended slavery and called on people of faith to pay no attention to the tag of homophobia.

Anderson added that Christians had a duty to speak up for the children that would be raised without a mother or a father and “commodified” under same-sex parenting, which was the inevitable result of gay marriage.

Family law scholar professor Patrick Parkinson said it was hard to do research on such children as there were so few available today, but what research there was troubled him. As did the repercussions of publishing research that contradicted the same-sex agenda. He claimed Christians in countries that were debating or had already passed gay marriage laws were losing their jobs for “private” statements about their beliefs on Facebook.

An audience member questioned if homosexuals automatically go to hell, to which nervous laughter was followed by now routine comparisons to adultery, alcoholism, sex addiction and compulsions to incest.

There were no gay voices in the debate to speak to that struggle, as invited News Ltd columnist and devout Catholic Christopher Pearson had to pull out of the event for ill health.

There were no further clashes outside CrossCulture, but the visitors held back a bit after the debate anyway.

Equal Love Victoria co-ordinator Ali Hogg told Crikey she wasn’t one of the protesters shouting “bigot”, but she understood the anger behind the taunts. “We wanted to send a message that they can’t steer out their bigotry freely. The Australian Christian Lobby are a far right-wing minority on this issue and we don’t think they should have the confidence to come out and have these forums aired across the country.”

It wasn’t about religion or the targeted church, Hogg said, just the ACL and its agenda.


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19 thoughts on “Free speech gets a workout at Christian marriage clash

  1. Bill Hilliger

    Jesus had 12 male deciples, he spent most of his time with them. I wonder what Jesus would say in respect to current christian homophobic attitudes. Indeed Jesus might have been hmmm?

  2. secondsoprano

    Oh give me a break. These people are restricting OUR civil liberties, demeaning OUR human dignity, interfering with OUR families … and yet they reframe the debate to make it look like we are the problem, interfering with their freedom of speech, restricting their freedom of religion.

    Well I’ve had enough. They are entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to make up their own “facts”. This is not a difference of opinion. They are simply wrong.

    Being gay is not abnormal (other than statistically). It is not wrong. It is not evil. It is not disordered. It is not sinful. It is not sick. It is not the result of paternal indifference or child abuse or maternal suffering or any other BS “cause”. It is not frowned upon by your invisible friend. It will not cause you to go to hell. It is in no way comparable to be.st.i ality, polyg.amy, inc.est, child ab.u.se or p.edoph.ilia. It is a perfectly normal, natural, non-threatening and entirely unexceptional variant of human se.xuality.

    To say otherwise is simply 100%, unequivocably, FALSE.

    Enough of this cr@p.

    There. Is. Nothing. Wrong. With. Being. Gay.

  3. puddleduck

    I think where this will end up is that same-sex couples are permitted to marry, but that Christian (and Jewish and Islamic) religious institutions will not be legally compelled to sanction or perform marriage ceremonies for such couples. Some ministers and congregations in some Christian churches will choose to do so (with the resulting split in denominations that this has already led to, for example in the Lutheran and Episcopalian denominations in the States).

    To legislate otherwise would be to compel people of faith to breach a fundamental tenet of their religious practice and belief, denying them their freedom of religion. But it seems Eqqual Love and other groups don’t want to extend the freedom they want/enjoy to others.

  4. Jack Phat

    Being GAY is so too abnormal.

  5. secondsoprano

    Yes. So is being male (99.2 males per 100 females).

    And of course there’s nothing with that either.

  6. Moloch

    It’s rather like the fun folk at the Sally Army calling ME a bigot because I was a bit miffed at one of their senior pastors saying we should all be put to death – and dared to tell them so on their Facebook page…

    Now, I’m not telling them that they can’t kneel down before their fantasy daddy in worship!
    It wasn’t me that said christians deserve to die!

    I just called them out as bigots, just as I would if they said that Jews or Aboriginal people deserved to die…

    But they do seem to reflexively assume the position of innocent victimhood1
    Like they were still being persued by lion.
    like they haven’t been running this society for the last millennium.

    Enjoy your ‘victimhood’ good christian people – you will be challenged at every point from now on.

  7. Bill Hilliger

    @SECONDSOPRANO: quite a few people suspect Jesus was probably g*y. Seeing no one in the last 1975 years has actually met with, or seen Jesus, it might just be true. Google is Jesus g*y?

  8. TheFamousEccles

    Enough of this bollocks. The ACL (as well as all other religious organisations) should have any tax-exempt status they may enjoy revoked, forthwith. The obsession with homos-xuality to the exclusion of all other issues seems to me similar to the commie witch-hunts from the middle of last century. They are totally misreading the view of the public in general, and to put it bluntly I couldn’t give any number of rats arses for their opinion – though I begrudgingly admit they are entitled to one.

    There’s enough hate in this world, do we have to make the choice of whom someone chooses to love another battle?

  9. secondsoprano

    @Puddleduck: Nice strawman you’ve constructed there. The only people talking about churches being required to marry gay people are the hysteria mongers on the anti-equality side. No-one on the marriage equality side is suggesting forcing churches to do anything. (Just like no-one is calling for catholic churches to be forced to marry divorcees, or muslims to be forced to marry hindus, or hillsong to be forced to marry atheists. Once this insanity is over and marriage equality achieved, churches will be free – as they are now – to impose whatever restrictions they like.)

    The main reason for this is probably because churches are largely irrelevant to the whole issue. Marriage is a secular legal contract, and the religious ceremony an optional extra, with no legal status, which the majority of people nowadays choose to do without.

  10. Zapo

    I don’t see the big deal. The reasons the ACL and other anti-equality organisations or people tout for not allowing same-sex marriage are all based on fear, or are NOTHING to do with the argument.

    Same-Sex marriage allows exactly that, couples of the same sex to get married.

    It doesn’t allow for polygamy, it doesn’t have anything to do with children, it shouldn’t have any impact to anyone other than those who are homosexual who want to get married!!

    If you believe it honestly devalues your heterosexual marriage, then you clearly find homosexuality reprehensible and that’s another issue in itself which you need to deal with yourself – it shouldn’t stop same-sex marriage!

  11. crystalsinger

    @PUDDLEDUCK: Both of the bills proposed to amend the Marriage Act have sections which explicitly state that no religious minister or organisation would be required under law to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples. I haven’t heard any advocate for marriage equality argue that any religion should be required to do so (most of us don’t want to be part of any organisation that doesn’t want us).

    You’re being mischievous to try to make it look like it’s the marriage equality advocates who are the oppressors of religious freedom, when really we’re just trying to (finally) redress an inequality that should not stand in a modern, secular democracy.

    Nice try but no cigar.

  12. Jaybee

    The value of marriage is degraded by all who take their vows lightly. You’re fighting over a carcass.

  13. Trovato Sebastian

    what is gay? is it from evolution or is it created by God? Christians believe that abortion is wrong and inseting a penis into an anal cavity is wrong, evolutionists think it’s right. I think that a democracy where everybody has a right to free speech in Australia is based on the Christian ethic and so debates on issues like this are important from both sides and need to be seen as that in our communities, we are entitled to vote and discuss where we feel where the majority falls. I agree with John Anderson when he said “Australia should reject the argument that it is falling behind on a human rights issue” because it has been a way minority groups which use it to portray “hate” in well established traditions. If being “Gay” was a result of evolution then evolution has quite some time to change this but in the meantime the tradition of marriage stands as being between a man and a woman. If God created “Gay” people then he has a plan and a purpose for those people (according to the bible) which outside of the “same sex marriage”.

  14. James K

    What do we think of the Holland model?

    Here is that different view advocated by a Baptist Minister in the US:

    People say that ‘marriage is a sacred institution and should be reserved for the union of one man and one woman. If this is the case…I have to ask why the government is involved at all in marrying people. If marriage really is a sacred institution, then why is the government controlling it, in a nation that affirms separation of church and state? Personally, as a Baptist minister, I always feel a bit uneasy at the end of the weddings I perform when I have to say, ‘And now, by the authority given unto me by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I pronounce you husband and wife.’ At weddings, after performing a variety of religious exercises, such as reading Scripture, saying prayers, giving a biblically based homily and pronouncing blessings on the marriage, I suddenly shift to being an agent of the state. Doesn’t it seem inconsistent that in a highly religious ceremony I should have to turn the church into a place where government business is conducted? …

    Allow me to suggest a way out of this conflict and the difficult questions being raised these days about whether our country should approve of homosexual marriages. I propose that the government should get out of the business of marrying people, and instead, only give legal status to civil unions. The government should do this for both gay couples and straight couples, and leave marriage in the hands of the church and other religious entities. That is the way it works in Holland: If a couple want to be united in the eyes of the law, whether gay or straight, they go down to city hall and legally register, securing all the rights and privileges a couple has under Dutch law. Then, if the couple want their relationship blessed – to be married – they go to a church, synagogue or other house of worship. Marriage should be viewed as an institution ordained by God and should be out of the control of the State. Of course, homosexual couples could go to churches that welcome and affirm gay marriage and get their unions blessed there, but isn’t that the way it should be in a nation that guarantees people the right to promote religion according to their personal convictions? …’

    (Tony Campolo)

  15. James K

    PS – of course, if that position just noted above, is something worth
    aiming for, then until it happens, we should of course accept gay
    marriage for equity and justice reasons.

  16. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    Trovato Sebastian, you seem to have a problem differentiating between tradition, evolution and legislation. You write: “….. meantime the tradition of marriage stands as being between a man and a woman.” Well I’m sorry but you are referring to the Commonwealth Marriage Act – which John Howard changed in 2004 to include those words. Mr Howard (you know, he was the prime minister) wanted people to connect the Act with the religious tradition – a load of twaddle when the Act has existed as a State institution, outside any religious tradition (except for the word ‘marriage’), for nearly a century. But plenty of religious activists, fundamentalists and other congregations now feel obliged to campaign to defend this connection to a tradition which is simply imagined – or learned by rote from John Howard. Marriage, as defined in the various Australian marriage legislatures, is an arrangement (a contract?) between the State and a couple designed to foster the relationship – to produce for the state the beneficial outcomes acknowledged to generally proceed from loving relationships. That is, as a complete generalisation, people live longer, socialise better and are more productive inside marriages or marriage-like relationships. Why wouldn’t the State promote marriage? Why wouldn’t marriage be popular with punters?
    So it is the State which bestows upon us citizens the social, financial and inclusion benefits that come with signing up to marriage. If you want religious benefits (and you can even explain what they might be), the State doesn’t have any. Married people already have the marriage benefits the State can provide so if they want more benefits and believe a religious faith can supply these then they should find them where they can. Of course some married people might give them a tip but really the experts are religious people. Religious people do not have expertise in marriage. Most of the experts are ordinary people with no pretensions.
    I don’t think biological evolution can help us in this discussion.

  17. Michael O'Gorman

    I fully support the Church view, and they should not give way to Left Wing Loonies, and I would help blockade the church entry , if Gay Marriage gets legalised, and churches are forced to Marry gay people and I would withdraw my children from class if they are forced to listen to Gay Sex Education at primary or secondary school

  18. Zapo

    I hope for the sake of your children Michael that they aren’t homosexual.

  19. Michael O'Gorman

    Actually , that Holland model sounds good !


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