I appreciate our politicians and political parties don’t do irony or even consistency, but the rage, particularly from the liberal elite, over the decision of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland in relation to David Ford does question the integrity of certain parties.
In early 2015, the Alliance Party made it clear that their candidates standing in the Assembly election of that year would have to sign up to support for same sex marriage and dissent, even on personal conscience grounds, would not be tolerated.
This they had every right to do, but the question is, should an MLA not fulfil this commitment and break with the accepted party policy, would the Alliance Party sanction them?
Surely the party would feel totally justified in taking action against such an MLA, maybe removing the whip, or they may even go as far as expelling the member. Again something I believe they are quite entitled to do.
So why is the Presbyterian Church in Ireland not entitled to do the same? Clearly the Presbyterian Church in Ireland holds a specific view on marriage, one they have articulated clearly and consistently.
It therefore seems reasonable that those who hold leadership roles within the church, especially if they had not at the time of their appointment made known their dissenting opinions, should be expected to uphold and defend the church’s position.
This does not of course mean that every member or adherent of the church has to agree with every view or opinion. However it does seem reasonable that if the Alliance Party can demand loyalty from their representatives, particularly those in leadership roles, why not the Presbyterian Church?
So, if a member of the Presbyterian Eldership cannot support the key policies of the church on the likes of marriage, why should the church not sanction him/her – clearly the Alliance Party would.
Ironically if David Ford had backed the Presbyterian Church’s position and opposed same sex marriage, from all the available information, it would have been the Alliance Party that would have sanctioned him!