Church leaders against gay marriage take to the pulpit
Greek Orthodox leaders publicly contested a move to change marriage laws during last weekend's church services
Greek Orthodox leaders publicly contested a move to change marriage laws during last weekend's church services, joining other heads of churches in Australia, and are putting the pressure on politicians ahead of a federal parliamentary debate to encourage them to oppose a move to change marriage law that could potentially legalise same-sex marriage.
The Green and Labour parties presented two separate bills in parliament on June 18, which came alongside a standing committee report which made no recommendation of law change to legislators. Most submitters to the report supported a move to change marriage laws to accommodate same-sex couples.
Roman Catholic and Anglican church leaders also joined in the protest, asking parishioners to write to their legislators about their opposition to same-sex marriage. Catholic church leaders said "legislating for same-sex marriage will change the meaning of marriage for everyone."
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia set up the website Speak up for Marriage in a bid to inform followers on the issue of same sex marriage.
The website features a function that enables the reader to send their opposition to same sex marriage by lobbying to their Federal Member of Parliament.
In a statement to the readers, Archbishop Stylianos stated "our Orthodox view is contrary, not because we have hostile feelings towards our fellow citizens, but because the proposed alteration is against the sacredness of marriage and the family".
The church stated that they will not be silent on the issue of same sex marriage because "the proposed change in legislation will not only erode the sacredness of marriage and the family which are the foundation of society, but will also legally bind Australian citizens to accept and promote the deconstruction of the traditional form of marriage between male and female".
They have also provided case studies of other countries where same sex marriage was legalised.
"No one should be indifferent to this issue, as there is a danger that we will be overwhelmed by the well-organized 'same sex marriage' lobby," stated Archbishop Stylianos.
Not all church leaders are on board with the church-backed anti-gay marriage campaign, with Perth Anglican Archbishop Roger Herft saying the pulpit was an inappropriate platform to campaign, as it was not the role of the church to have its members lobby politicians. Sydney Baptist pastor Mike Hercock was also against he campaign, saying the letters were fear-mongering, and that Christians should make up their own minds. "They are persecuting their own who happen not to toe the party line," his statement said.
A vote on the bills is likely later this year but there are still barriers preventing change to current marriage law. Supporters may stall the vote should Opposition leader Tony Abbott, who opposes the legislation, continues to deny his party a free vote to prevent legislative change. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Julia Gillard will permit Labor a free vote, despite personally opposing the legislation.
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