The MP for Salisbury has criticised the city’s bishop for his ‘apartheid dig’ at gay marriage opponents.
John Glen MP has written to The Daily Telegraph saying he was “deeply saddened” to learn that The Right Reverend Nicholas Holtam had likened traditional marriage supporters to those who defended Apartheid and slavery.
Mr Glen said Bishop Holtam’s comments were “deeply unhelpful” and will be “particularly offensive to those in black majority churches who do not share his view”.
He said that growing congregations in Salisbury object to gay marriage because “they believe marriage should follow the biblical pattern affirmed by Jesus in Matthew 19.”
He added: “To redefine the institution of marriage will not remove prejudice, but instead risk legal ambiguities and unnecessarily provoke a sense of resentment and isolation among very many Christians.”
“If today’s church leaders follow Bishop Nicholas, and allow public opinion to define what they preach, I fear the decline in some parts of the Church of England will be terminal.”
Bishop Holtam’s controversial comments were written in a letter to Labour Peer Lord Alli, who asked him to clarify his position ahead of a vote on same-sex marriage in the House of Lords last week.
Bishop Holtam distanced himself from the Church of England’s official opposition to same-sex marriage, saying: “Christian morality comes from the mix of Bible, Christian tradition and our reasoned experience”.
He added: “Sometimes Christians have had to rethink the priorities of the Gospel in the light of experience. No one now supports either slavery or apartheid. The Biblical texts have not changed; our interpretation has.”
Bishop Holtam’s letter was published in The Daily Telegraph.