The statement issued by the Government and Morals Committee of the Free Presbyterian Church (letters, 30th November) is good in so far as it goes.
As one would expect I fully agree with my church’s position that this was a policy introduced to appease homosexuals and that the major issue here is not a government pardon but the pardon which can only be found through repentance and faith – as was experienced by former homosexuals in Corinth (see I Corinthians 6).
However, while the Government and Morals Committee has publicly pointed the finger at Justice Minister Claire Sugden she alone is not to blame when it comes to this matter. As the statement made clear, the issue of pardons came before the Assembly on Monday and that being so it was a matter not just for the minister but for every member of the Assembly.
Jim Allister proposed an amendment to the legislative consent motion which would have removed the pardon for homosexual offences. As members of the Presbytery of my church will know, because after all democratic votes follows the model established by Presbyterianism, a proposal needs a seconder.
I watched as that amendment was debated and then the Assembly moved to what should have been a vote. The only person to support the amendment was its proposer. Jim Allister was left on his own at the front of the Assembly.
Opportunity was given by the Speaker for a second person to come forward and oppose the pardon but none was forthcoming.
From the public gallery I could see Free Presbyterian MLAs like Edwin Poots, Carla Lockhart and Gordon Dunne stay rooted to their seats.
Members of the Presbytery of the Free Presbyterian Church – Mervyn Storey, Lord Morrow and Thomas Buchanan – were not in the chamber. Doubtless they had something better to do. Judges 5:15-17 comes to mind.
So before my church points the finger at Miss Sugden it would do well to reflect on the fact that she can legitimately point back at ruling elders within our own denomination and ask – where were you?
Samuel Morrison, Dormore Co Down