Minister of church with DUP ties: A party leader must halt moral decline

The minister of a church with deep and ongoing DUP ties has said whoever leads the party must take a stand against “moral decline”.

Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 3:23 pm
Updated Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 5:12 pm
16/09/10: Lord Bannside, the Rev Ian Paisley, with Free Presbyterian Church moderator Ron Johnstone and then-clerk (now Martyrs' Memorial minister) Ian Brown outside Magdelan Church in Edinburgh protesting the Papal Visit

Rev Ian Brown took over as minister of Martyrs’ Memorial Free Presbyterian Church from DUP founder Ian Paisley in 2013.

His church is currently attended by, among others, three DUP MLAs and at least two DUP councillors.

He would not divulge who the politicians are (although DUP MLAs Christopher Stalford and Gordon Dunne have in the past been linked to the church).

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“As a Gospel minister my perspective is going to be what Proverbs teaches: ‘Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people’ – that has to be my core guiding light,” he told the News Letter, quoting from the Book of Proverbs chapter 14, verse 34 (KJV).

“Therefore the more our country is allowed to drift from its moral rules then the worse it’s going to be for every single person.

“Countries do not prosper by surrendering moral principles.

“Therefore there’s a lot of ground be made up again on the whole abortion issue; that’d be a chief concern of mine.

“As a local church we’re certainly praying that there will be a rolling back of the tide of moral decline.”

He re-iterated that it is abortion – above and beyond many other socially-liberal causes – that concerns him most, especially the imposition of it upon the Province from Westminster.

“That’s something that is deplorable, and must be resisted,” he said.

“People have talked a lot about red lines over the years. That has to be an absolute, non-negotiable red line.

“We talk about hills to die on – well, that’s a hill to die on.”

He said that the country as a whole needs “a lot of corrective surgery, morally,” and acknowledged that much of the opposition to abortion has come from within the DUP ranks (and those of the TUV).

“I’d hope that that opposition would become even more definite and unambiguous,” he said. “We stand in huge need of divine intervention. I’d be hoping our country can spiritually and morally perform a U-turn.”

The Free Presbyterian Church was founded in the 1950s by Ian Paisley.

By 1971, it had 7,337 adherents in Northern Ireland according to Census.

By the time of ther 2011 census, the figure stood at just over 10,000.

Though the denomination is relatively small (it sits just behind Pentecostals and Baptists in the 2011 census figures) it is disproportionately well-connected politically, thanks to the close links between the DUP and the church historically – with Rev Paisley heading up both simultaneously.

Arlene Foster herself is a member of the Church of Ireland.

Edwin Poots, a longstanding senior DUP figure and one of those touted as being a possible DUP leadership candidate, is on record himself as having been a chorister at Hillsborough Free Presbyterian Church.

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