With the news that the Coalition 4 Marriage petition has passed the 300,000 mark (while the Coalition 4 Equal Marriage petition has reached 35,000), it is worth considering that the campaign against ‘gay marriage’ appears to have become the most successful vehicle of inter-faith union and ecumenism in British history, easily surpassing ‘aggressive secularism‘ and even the ‘pro-life’ union against abortion. The issue of same-sex marriage is not only uniting Christians across the fractious denominations, but bringing together all the main religions across mutually-exclusive doctrines of God. Who would have thought that Ut Unum Sint could have been furthered by a religio-political campaign, or, indeed, extended to embrace people of all religions and none?
The Archbishop of Canterbury says of same-sex marriage: “What this brings into focus is the anxiety that law is being used proactively to change culture.” The Church of England has said it is ‘committed to the traditional understanding of the institution of marriage as being between one man and one woman.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, said the plans were a ‘grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right’. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, says same-sex marriage is a ‘profoundly radical step’ that would threaten the true meaning of matrimony.
The Evangelical Alliance, representing many (though by no means all) of the Evangelical Free Churches in the UK, says that while legal injustices could be addressed, ‘marriage is solely between a man and woman and is a major contributor to society, which should be protected and not redefined’.
Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet of the Mill Hill Synagogue in north London and adviser to the Chief Rabbi, described the proposals as ‘pure politics’ and an assault on ‘traditional values’, adding it was hypocritical to impose such a far-reaching ‘secular’ change when religious leaders would be condemned for imposing their values on others. He said: “The hallmark of Judaism is the family. The traditional family – a husband, a wife and children.”
Farooq Murad, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain said on behalf of its members (again, by no means all British Muslims): “Whilst we remain opposed to all forms of discrimination, including homophobia, redefining the meaning of marriage is in our opinion unnecessary and unhelpful.” He said that gay marriage is ‘an assault on religion’ and that ‘such unions will not be blessed as marriage by the Islamic institutions’.
Lord Singh, head of the Network of Sikh Organisations, said the proposed reforms represented ‘a sideways assault on religion’. He said: “It is an attempt by a vocal, secular minority to attack religion… Sikhs believed in marriage as the union of a man and a woman and that changing the definition was an attack on the English language… We have total respect for gays and lesbians and we are delighted that there is a Civil Partnership Act. We believe that this gives gays and lesbians everything they need.”
So, let us work together to defend the traditional view of marriage. United we stand…