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Gay clergy decision saddening, says NZAF

September 29, 2006

Gay clergy decision saddening, says NZAF

The New Zealand AIDS Foundation says it is saddened by today’s majority decision in the Presbyterian Assembly to ban the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy within the Church.

Executive Director Rachael Le Mesurier says the decision is a moral red herring. “It’s odd that the Church has chosen to focus on homosexuality when the real threat to credibility in religious leadership is hypocrisy, intolerance, and the disgrace of sexual abuse and paedophilia.”

It is also a missed opportunity for the Church to move into the 21st Century and embrace a more inclusive vision for Christianity. “The lack of moral courage is disappointing,” Le Mesurier continues. “It’s a shame that the Church couldn’t have followed the recent example set by the Anglican synod in Auckland, who moved to affirm the ministry of GLBT people in the church and in the community.”

With the need to protect people from discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation widely accepted by the New Zealand public, Le Mesurier says it is unfair for an exemption to be allowed on the basis of religious belief. “The definition of ‘religious belief’ is unclear, and we’re aware that such a vague term could be used to justify anything.”

Using the Bible as a mandate for discrimination is a slippery slope, NZAF believes, as passages in the Bible has been used in the past to justify slavery and the oppression of women.

“Modern Christianity has moved past these things. We’re concerned about the message this sends to gays and lesbians – that they aren’t worthy of leadership simply because of who they are,” Le Mesurier says. “It is a shame that the Presbyterian Church has not, in keeping with mainstream New Zealand, moved to accept gays and lesbians as full and worthy human beings with a contribution to make in society.”

ENDS

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