An evangelical church in Scotland is being blasted publicly for promoting marriage on a bulletin board that had been designated for its use at a community center where it meets.
New Life Shetland has an agreement to meet Sundays in the facilities of the Sandveien Neighborhood Center in Lerwick. Youth clubs and other organizations meet there during the week.
In the agreement, the church is allowed to use a bulletin board, and members recently posted a note urging church members to review and sign a petition in support of traditional marriage.
The church’s beliefs were too much for one “youth worker” at the center, Saul Day, who took the announcement down from the church’s bulletin board.
Day wrote to the local newspaper, The Shetland Times, expressing outrage.
“Say, hypothetically, that there is a young youth club member belonging to the LGBT community. Say, for instance, this particular young person is finding it difficult to accept who they are, or is finding the social challenges that are often associated with a young person ‘coming out’ difficult to cope with,” he wrote. “What if they, curiously, like I, were to pick up one of these petitions? What frame of mind would this produce as a result of reading it? How would they react, and what emotions would be resonated?”
He told the newspaper he reported the church’s beliefs to the board of the neighborhood center, which is to review the charge.
Day told the newspaper: “The content of the petition and its controvertible (sic) message is most certainly not acceptable in this kind of setting, and should not be on display in any youth club, especially one that is overseen by a local authority that lawfully must adhere to the equal rights measures stringently in place for young people.”
The church’s pastor, Jamie Tonge, told the newspaper the church was simply delivering its message to its own participants.
“The information is solely to do with gay marriage and it is not a response to gay lifestyle,” he said.
The note to church members stated: “We are deeply concerned about the implications of what will be taught in schools if marriage is redefined. We are also concerned that the definition of marriage may be rewritten further so that, for example, polygamy may be legalized at some future point.”
The argument for polygamy already is advancing in other countries where same-sex marriage is being recognized. Polygamists argue that if the definition of marriage can be expanded to two men or two women, it logically should not limit more than two people in a consenting relationship.
A Scotland for Marriage spokesman said, acccording to the Christian Institute, the reaction to the bulletin message is “exactly the kind of action we expect against churches that use public facilities.”
“They will be told to keep quiet about their beliefs on marriage if they wish to continue using the building.”
The spokesman called it a “taste of things to come unless the Scottish government provides proper safeguards in the same sex marriage bill.”
The spokesman described the attack as a “kind of witch hunt against people who believe in traditional marriage.”
Residents took to the comments page of the newspaper to join in the attack.
“The phrase ‘I support traditional marriage’ is just a euphamism (sic) for treating gay people as second class citizens,” said Tom Miller.
Added Harry Dent: “I always find it mildly amusing to see Christian fundamentalists opposing polygamy, considering that the majority of their biblical heroes had several or, in some cases, hundreds of wives.”
“Isn’t it about time that the Christian Right accepted that their view is only one view, and when they use the Bible to support their views they are on very shaky ground,” said Thelma Marl.
Ian Tinkler expressed no sympathy for the idea of allowing the church members to hold their own beliefs.
“Why must religious groups of nearly every type always display a lack of tolerance compassion and understanding towards all but their own?” he asked.