Christian ministers have spoken out in support of same-s*x marriage in stark contrast to comments from the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) claiming Kevin Rudd has lost the support of the Church.
Pentecostal and Evangelical Christians, along with Catholics, expressed anger at Mr Rudd last week, telling News Limited they would turn their backs on him at the next election for his pro-stance on gay marriage.
Mr Rudd is the first Australian Prime Minister to endorse gay marriage.
But a letter sent to Australian Marriage Equality (AME) from Uniting, Baptist, Anglican, Jewish, Buddhist and other faith groups has revealed a different side to the story.
The letter, which “encouraged people of faith to support marriage equality” during last year’s failed attempt to legalise same-s*x marriage by amending the Marriage Act, featured 77 signatures from Ministers across the country.
“How can I, a heterosexual who’s been very happily married for 50 years, tell anyone else they don’t have the right to form a loving, committed, lifelong union and enjoy the fruits of marriage as I have done?” wrote Reverend Dr Rowland Croucher, from John Mark Ministries, Victoria.
“Marriage is not a club to be restricted to some. Like the Gospel, it is a blessing to be shared.”
And there’s more coming out of the closet, so to speak.
The ACL believes it not only handed Mr Rudd the Prime Ministership in the 2007 election, but also played a part in his recent reprisal against Julia Gillard.
“There would be many people in the Christian constituency who would have seen Kevin Rudd for many years holding press conferences outside church, defending marriage, then suddenly change his mind because of the whims of pop culture,” Australian Christian Lobby managing director Lyle Shelton told News Limited’s Jessica Marszalek.
Now a number of Christians are publicly speaking out against the ACL, claiming the Lobby is no longer a voice of the people.
“The majority of Australian Christians who support marriage equality are pleased to see Australia has a Christian Prime Minister who represents their views”, Sydney-based Baptist Minister Reverend Mike Hercock said.
“Kevin Rudd’s support for these core Christian values will win him far more support from Christians than he will lose from those who oppose marriage equality.”
“Christians support marriage equality for a range of reasons including because we believe in commitment in relationships, we value equality and we respect human dignity.”
Gary Bouma, who is an Emeritus Professor of Sociology and president of the Australian Association for the Study of Religions, have become the unlikely political swing vote of the 2013 election.
“As an Anglican Priest I support marriage equality because the committed same-sex relationships I know show all the strengths, issues and beautiful love of the heterosexual relationships I know,” he said.
“Friends of mine who have been together for years are planning their marriage in Spain where this is legal. I only wish as an Anglican Priest that I could be there to bless them. I grieve for many friends in Australia who cannot do this, to whom the very real benefits of marriage are denied.”
Australian gays have left the country to solemnize their unions in the past with Spain and neighbouring New Zealand easy choice for many.
Australian Minister Ian Hunter and Leith Semmens married in the town of Jun, southern Spain, last December. Hunter, a Labour minister in the South Australian government, married his longtime partner in southern Spain just two months after Australia voted down a proposal to enact same-s*x marriage legislation. He is believed to be the first sitting member of an Australian legislative body to marry a gay partner.
Kevin Rudd said he believes homosexuality is not an abnormality, unlike the commonly held Christian view.
“What constitutes for me a credible Christian view of same-sex marriage, and is such a view amenable to change?” he wrote in a blog post in May.
“I have long resisted going with the growing tide of public opinion just for the sake of it. Those who know me well know that I have tried in good conscience to deal with the ethical fundamentals of the issue and reach an ethical conclusion.
“My core interest is to be clear-cut about the change in my position locally on this highly controversial issue before the next election, so that my constituents are fully aware of my position when they next visit the ballot box. That, I believe, is the right thing to do,” Rudd wrote.