Same-sex marriage: It’s a David and Goliath struggle for the soul of Ireland
‘Redefining marriage is being sold to us as a permissive measure, but we believe it will quickly become coercive’
‘Is the Taoiseach saying that genderless marriage would then be the exclusive vision of marriage and family taught in primary schools, even against the values of parents and the ethos of individual schools?’ Photograph: Getty Images
In the current climate it takes real courage to say you don’t agree with same-sex marriage. In Wexford, and elsewhere, many No posters have been taken down. One respondent to my opinion piece on March 11th stated: “Your values are totally immoral, offensive . . . Shame on you all!”
Such intolerance by some on the Yes side is no wonder when the media and political establishment are campaigning for a Yes vote as if it was a fundamental human right. It is a David and Goliath struggle for the soul of Ireland.
Many on the No side are being intimidated through social media. The Evangelical Response to the Same-Sex Referendum was signed by 100 leaders. Many other priests, Protestant ministers and Pentecostal pastors were happy with the statement but wouldn’t sign for fear of backlash.
What is wrong with our democracy when our Taoiseach states that Christian schools “will be expected to teach children that people in this country . . . will have the right to get married irrespective of their sexual orientation”?
If the family is constitutionally redefined, it will become impossible to have textbooks promoting the unique value of a mother and a father in any family. Any attempts to teach the traditional structure will become taboo. Church schools will be at particular risk.
Isn’t the logical outcome of his comments a withdrawal of State funding from all Christian schools that continue to uphold the Christian position on marriage, and the prosecution of teachers and members of school boards for “discrimination” if they speak about the distinctive value of mothers and fathers?
Freedom of conscience will be challenged by a Yes vote. Service providers will be acting illegally if they decline services for same-sex weddings. Three UK adoption agencies shut down because they were not prepared to provide adoption services to same-sex couples.
Redefining marriage is being sold to us by the media and political establishment as a permissive measure, but we believe it will quickly become coercive. Since same- sex marriage legislation was introduced in the UK, many people have been punished for expressing their sincere beliefs about marriage.
Twenty-two cases have been documented by the UK Coalition for Marriage (See c4m.org.uk). These include a teacher demoted, a chaplain to police and a magistrate sacked. This will happen in Ireland, if there is a Yes vote.
Here already Beulah Printers,
Drogheda, and Ashers Bakery, Belfast, have experienced the consequences of following their conscience on same-sex marriage. They were accused wrongly of discrimination against gay people, since they have gay customers and have provided a good service to them over the years.
However they refused the use of their business services to support same-sex marriage. Like us, they believe God is not anti-gay but loves all people; but they believe, as do all Christian churches, that marriage is exclusively, by God-given ordinance, between one man and one woman.
It was very courageous of GAA footballer Ger Brennan to come out on the No side. “I know I’ll be targeted for it and labelled,” he said, “but I’m sick of the accusations being flung around that if you vote No you are homophobic.”
We salute the courage of 34 Church of Ireland ministers who, in the Church of Ireland Gazette, challenged the two liberal Yes vote Church of Ireland bishops, declaring: “Despite the vows and promises made at their ordination . . . to uphold the Church’s teaching” these two bishops “are now themselves teaching error and we call on them to repent of this and to teach what the Church has taught about marriage according to Scripture”.
Our Government has been dishonest in not pointing out the consequences of a Yes vote for education and freedom of conscience. Is this anything to do with the substantial US money funding the Yes campaign? Atlantic Philanthropies has been open about the $16 million it provided to the Yes side.
May the silent majority not be deceived into naively voting Yes. May they come out and vote No. The shepherd David did slay the giant Goliath, with God’s help.
Paddy Monaghan is writing on behalf of a group of 100 evangelical church leaders from Catholic, Protestant and Pentecostal churches. For the pamphlet Good Reasons for a No Vote, email email@example.com