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Broad Christian Support for Civil Unions

Broad Christian Support for Civil Unions Continues

Tuesday 7 December 2004 M

A media release today from twenty-one church leaders is not representative of Christian views. While some of those who have signed may represent their churches’ views, others are simply making a personal statement. Even within churches that have made denominational statements, there are leaders and members who support civil unions.

Christians for Civil Unions, an ecumenical network of Christians supporting the legislation is emphasising again that there is significant Christian support for civil unions.

Earlier this year, Baptist minister Rev Dr Alan Jamieson explained that he supported the Bill because of two key elements in the Baptist tradition: the separation between church and state; and the right of all people to decide their own stance on moral issues. "The Bill removes the obvious discrimination in favour of married couples, while protecting the rights of religious groups to maintain their tradition's view on marriage."

Today Wellington Methodist minister, Rev Dr Lynne Frith, affirmed that Christian support for the bill comes from the heart of the gospel. “This is a matter both of human rights and gospel justice. Further, common decency demands that the same rights should apply to all committed relationships. This can only strengthen society as a whole.”

In response to today’s anti civil union statement, Rev Susan Thompson of Hamilton said, “Such conservative voices do not speak for the majority of Christians in New Zealand.

“As a Christian I believe passionately in the inclusive love of God. This calls me to work for the equality and dignity of all people. I believe that love is a gift from God. This calls me to celebrate and affirm all faithful committed relationships.

“So far the Civil Unions debate has exposed distressing levels of fear, ignorance and even hatred among some parts of our community toward gay and lesbian people. A public referendum has the potential to generate an even more corrosive and bitter debate.

”Such churches [Destiny etc] should stop trying to impose a narrow literalist biblical view on our modern diverse society. We live in a society which accepts and celebrates difference as part of the variety of life.”

Christians for Civil Unions believes that the process is not rushed but has been fair and considered. Consultation through the Select Committee has been comprehensive and the issue has been publicly discussed for months. The Salvation Army, in its submission, raised concerns about protecting marriage and families but did not strongly oppose civil unions.

Now it is time for politicians to vote according to their consciences. “We urge them to do so remembering the rights of New Zealanders, including children living in families with same-sex and de-facto parents, who are seeking recognition and protection for their relationships,” said spokesperson, Margaret Mayman.

ENDS

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