Former Paisley parishioners tight-lipped on controversy

Ian Paisley's former Free Presbyterian Church Martyrs Memorial on the Ravenhill Road.
Ian Paisley's former Free Presbyterian Church Martyrs Memorial on the Ravenhill Road.

Ian Paisley’s sensational BBC documentary, Genesis to Revelation, might have been the subject of intense media debate for most of last week, but yesterday parishioners at Martyrs’ Memorial, the Belfast church where he ministered for decades, were remaining tight-lipped.

Despite the explosive content – in which Lord Bannside revealed his deep hurt at how he left the leadership roles in both the church and the political party he founded – only two unnamed parishioners entering the Ravenhill Road church for the 11.30am service chose to share their views with the News Letter.

Another 10 asked for their opinion said they had either not watched the programme – one saying she “would rather watch love stories on the television” – or simply declined to comment.

But one parishioner, when asked his feelings on the programme, said: “What happened in the political sphere is one thing and I cannot comment on that. But, about what happened in the church that he founded – he should have been shown more love. He needed more love. I am not sure if I will be back in this church after today, and that’s all I can say.”

Another gentleman who said he had watched the programme said he “preferred to put his trust in the Lord”. He added: “I don’t want to put my trust in men, so I would rather say nothing.”

During the programme Baroness Paisley claimed her husband’s departure as minister of the Martyrs’ Memorial Church triggered the heart illness that almost cost him his life in February 2012.

More than a quarter of a million viewers watched Ian Paisley’s second televised interview on January 20, the BBC said.

In the programme, Lord Bannside claimed the way he was treated has caused him and his family to vow never to set foot in the church again.