Ireland’s Churches Expected to Be Protected After Vote Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

Associated Press/Photo by Andrew Medichini, file Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin
Associated Press/Photo by Andrew Medichini, file
Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin

Now that Ireland has voted to legalize same-gender “marriage,” what does that mean for churches in the country?

Ireland recently became the first country to legalize same-gender marriage by popular vote. So does that mean churches will have to change their beliefs and practices? Mark Tooley, president of The Institute on Religion & Democracy, is “moderately hopeful” that the churches will be protected.

“The Catholic Church obviously suffered a great defeat, but nonetheless, a vast majority of Irish are Catholic,” he points out. “It’s very difficult to conceive that the government would try to tell the Catholic Church to participate in same-sex marriage, so I would be pretty confident that Irish churches are not going to be compelled to host same-sex unions.”

Meanwhile, the president of the Irish Methodist Church, Rev. Peter Murray, released this written statement about the referendum result: “I ask now that grace be extended mutually between those who disagree on this issue. It is clear that prejudice, largely born out of ignorance and fear, exists against members of the LGBT community, but this does not mean that those who voted No in the referendum want to endorse inequality, restrict freedom or maintain intolerance. I strongly urge Methodist families, small groups and larger fellowships to be safe places where LGBT people feel accepted and loved, able to share their stories freely and be involved in the life of the church.”

Tooley warns that such language creates a potential for confusion, as Rev. Murray’s statement can imply approval for homosexual behavior.

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Bill Bumpas

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