A group of Uniting Church ministers has joined forces with like-minded church leaders to distance themselves from views expressed by the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) in relation to marriage equality.
The letter, addressed to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, expresses concern that the proposed plebiscite on marriage equality will incite hatred among some sections of the community.
In a move described as ‘disgraceful’ by human rights commissioner Gillian Triggs, the ACL has called for a suspension of state and federal anti-discrimination laws in the lead-up to the plebiscite.
Signatories to the letter express concern about the plebiscite and call on the government to vote on marriage equality in parliament. Among the concerns is that the debate preceding a plebiscite could vilify people from the LGBTI community as well as reflect poorly on faith communities as whole.
“A volatile, public and politically-charged debate could both distance leaders from lay people, marginalise faith communities from broader society and alienate LGBTI individuals within religious communities”, the letter, signed by leaders of the Anglican, Baptist and Uniting churches, states.
It also refers to the “…knock-on effect of undermining the wider contribution faith communities can make to other public matters. We also want to avoid any public perception that the resources available to faith communities for important charity and welfare work are expended instead on a plebiscite campaign…”
Referring to the debate already underway in the community, the letter highlights comments made by prominent Christians arguing against marriage equality.
“High profile proponents of ‘traditional’ marriage have a track record of public statements that have been widely interpreted as disparaging LGBTI people. This includes linking same-sex relationships with odious moral behaviours such as incest and bestiality,” the letter states.
Referring to the traditional separation of law from confessional doctrines, signatories to the letter ask the government to consider the social ramifications of a plebiscite. As well as social division and denigration of vulnerable minorities, they feel a plebiscite has the potential to damage Australia’s secular-religious harmony.
You can read the full letter here.