THE Prime Minister has defended a Presbyterian Church minister’s decision not to marry a heterosexual couple in regional Victoria because they support same-sex marriage.
The minister refused to marry the Ballarat bridge and groom after learning the bride had recently published a post on Facebook, supporting same-sex marriage.
The loving couple was set to be married at their church by Minister Steven North, but the minister wrote a letter to the bride, warning her that there would be “practical consequences” if the wedding went ahead.
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“After the premarital counselling that you attended and the sermons delivered at Ebenezer on this subject, you must surely appreciate that your commitment to same-sex marriage opposes the teaching of Christ Jesus and the scriptural position practiced by the Presbyterian Church of Australia and by me,” Minister North’s letter read.
“By continuing to officiate it would appear either that I support your views on same-sex marriage or that I am uncaring about this matter. As you know, neither statement is correct.
“Also, if the wedding proceeded in the Ebenezer St John’s church buildings, the same inferences could be drawn about the Presbyterian denomination. Such inferences would be wrong.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Victorian Premier David Andrews were quick to weigh in on the matter.
While Andrews said it was “disappointing”, the PM said it was up to the churches to decide who they married.
“Religious freedom is fundamental and it will be protected in any bill that emerges from this Parliament,” he said.
“Churches are free to marry whoever they like.”
Turnbull has previously made it clear he will be voting ‘YES’ for same-sex marriage in the upcoming postal survey.
– Additional reporting by Jaydan Duck