RELIGIOUS leaders in the region say the people have spoken, but when it comes to same-sex marriage, they can’t see it happening in their churches.
Church heads in Tamworth and Gunnedah told The Leader they accepted the result of the same-sex marriage vote and welcomed its example of democracy and freedom of speech in action.
But now they hope their religious freedoms to marry only heterosexual couples will be upheld.
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Tamworth’s St Nicholas Catholic Church parish priest, Father Joe Adriano
Father Joe said he was “from the old school” and would be guided by the directives of his church.
“If a gay couple came in and said, ‘We want to get married’, the current law of the church doesn’t allow me, so I will not do the marriage,” he said.
“If it is not allowed by the church, I am a priest; I will obey what the church says. If it is allowed by the church, I will … I’m a priest and therefore I will obey what my church will tell me to do.”
Father Joe said he was not surprised the majority vote was different from the church’s view.
“Religion has always been like that: our religious beliefs have not always been popular,” he said.
“Many times in the past, the truth of the gospel that we’re trying to uphold have been controversial and a lot of times it is not welcomed by a lot of people.
“Now the church, the gospel, the truth of Christ believes marriage is only for a man and a woman.
“Our people have spoken, and it is not shocking … that what we believe as a church or as a gospel runs contrary to what people think and decide.”
However, Father Joe said “it’s the lifestyle that I reject, but I accept the person”.
“I’m a very welcoming person; if somebody comes to me and says, ‘I’m gay, I’m a practising homosexual’, I don’t make judgments.
“That matter is between him and God, or her and God.”
Gunnedah Anglican Church senior minister, Reverend Scott Dunlop
Reverend Dunlop said he’d like the experience of other countries to inform the creation of any legislation – which Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said he wants to see passed before Christmas.
“I think it’s important ... that freedom of speech and religious freedoms continue to be upheld in this society,” Reverend Dunlop said.
“I think it’s important that we look to other countries that have already passed this law and … perhaps learn from them.”
Asked whether he could see his church marrying a same-sex couple, he said, “No, I don’t think so.”
“As a Bible-believing Christian minister, I believe that the Bible is clear on this topic and in good conscience, before God, we’d find it very hard.”
However, Reverend Dunlop said gay people were always welcome in the flock.
“All people are equal in God’s eyes and we’re all made in the image of God, so we treat all people with respect and care regardless of who they are and their background.”