Presbyterian Church in Ireland votes to deny gay couples membership and ban their CHILDREN from baptisms
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Presbyterian Church in Ireland votes to deny gay couples membership and ban their CHILDREN from baptisms

THE Presbyterian Church in Ireland has voted to exclude gay couples from membership and ban their children from being baptised.

The Church - which is the largest Presbyterian denomination in Ireland, and the largest Protestant denomination in Northern Ireland - adopted the policy after a vote at the General Assembly in Belfast today.

The decision comes just days after the Church voted to loosen its ties with the Church of Scotland due to the latter's more liberal attitude to same-sex relationships.

'Contrary to nature'

The PBI's doctrine committee concluded: "In light of our understanding of scripture and the Church's understanding of a credible profession of faith, it is clear that same-sex couples are not eligible for communicant membership nor are they qualified to receive baptism for their children.

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"We believe that their outward conduct and lifestyle is at variance with a life of obedience to Christ".

“The [Bible] unambiguously regards homosexual activity as contrary to nature, understood as God’s created order, and that it sets forth a permanent principle of creation, not a culturally limited perception."

The Church added that LGBT couples should be “encouraged… to walk in the ways of the Lord” through “careful instruction and personal counsel” – a suggestion that would appear to imply support for controversial 'gay cure’ therapy.

Outrage

The motion has sparked anger on social media, with many speaking out against the change.

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long, who is a member of the Presbyterian Church, said her "heart is broken" by the decision.

She tweeted: "I can only imagine the hurt this has caused to those from the LGBT community.

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"It does not reflect the views of so many of us who love, respect and value you as family, friends and members of our community."

English musician, journalist and Church of England priest Richard Coles wrote: "The Presbyterian Church in Ireland has just voted to exclude people in same-sex relationships from communion; and has also decided to exclude children of such couples from baptism.

"So eternal damnation for those guilty of the sin of having gay parents?"

UUP MLA Doug Beattie added: "My word....I can't get my head around this. A reason to exclude is never going to be better than a reason to include."

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