Over 70 of Scotland’s largest evangelical churches, attended by more than 20,000 people, have signed an open letter to First Minister Alex Salmond urging him not to redefine marriage.
The Scottish Government is currently holding a public consultation on whether marriage should be redefined in law to introduce same-sex marriage.
The open letter to Alex Salmond asks him to “uphold the clear understanding of marriage that has served Scotland well for centuries”.
Paul Rees, Senior Pastor at Charlotte Baptist Chapel, Edinburgh, said: “We as evangelical church leaders have come together to show our support for marriage and our steadfast opposition to redefining it in law.
“The Scottish Government has miscalculated the strength of feeling on this matter.
“This issue is not about legal rights, all the legal rights of marriage are already available to homosexual couples through civil partnerships. This issue is about redefining marriage across Scotland.”
Revd David McCarthy of St Silas Episcopal Church, Glasgow, said: “We wish to express our strong support for marriage. Changing the definition of marriage would have profound effects on our society, not least for Scotland’s children.
“Traditional marriage gives kids the complementary parenting of a mother and father which same-sex marriage does not provide.”
Revd Dominic Smart of Gilcomston South (Church of Scotland), Aberdeen, said: “Our sincere concern is for the wellbeing of Scotland, and I am particularly concerned about the implications for schools if marriage is redefined.
“If marriage is redefined in law then that new definition will be the one promoted in schools. Children will be taught that when they grow up they can marry someone of the same sex. Any parents who object will be labelled as intolerant and narrow minded.”
Revd Jim Turrent, Lead Pastor of Central Baptist Church, Dundee, said: “If marriage is redefined once, what is to stop it happening again? Canada has legalised same-sex marriage, and now there is a legal case in a Canadian court trying to legalise polygamy.
“Mexico City legalised same-sex marriage two years ago, now the City is proposing temporary marriages that only last two years. Once you start to unpick marriage, the whole fabric can unravel.”
Revd David Meredith of Smithton-Culloden Free Church, Inverness, said: “Our overall concern is that redefining marriage would have far-reaching implications for Scottish society as a whole.
“But we are also concerned that there will be an erosion of religious liberty and freedom of conscience for those who believe in traditional marriage. We have already seen some illiberal reaction against those who have stood for marriage.”
We write as leaders of some of Scotland’s largest Evangelical churches. Like everyone, we want to help build a better, stronger Scotland. As churches we are actively engaged in our communities for the good of all people.
We join with others to express our support for retaining the current legal definition of marriage, which has served Scotland well for centuries. We are concerned about the implications if marriage is redefined. It stands to reason a redefinition will be promoted as standard by public bodies. This has significant implications across society, not least for what children will be taught in schools.
Marriage – although it has been undermined in recent decades – remains a vital universal institution that has benefited Scottish society for centuries. The marriage of one man to one woman, for life, for the rearing of children in a stable environment, is a cornerstone of society. It is embedded in history and in cultures around the world.
Marriage is also rooted in nature. The opposite sexes of men and women are integral to its character and to its success. Children do best when they are raised by the mother and father who conceived them. Numerous independent studies show this to be true. Of course there will be exceptions, however, in redefining marriage people are being told that a child does not need a mother and a father.
Government did not invent marriage, and it is astonishing that it is seeking to legally redefine it at the behest of a small minority. What is to stop it being redefined further? There is a very real risk of definition-creep. If marriage is redefined who is to say that, for example, polygamy should not be legalised?
In supporting marriage, we are not removing rights from anyone. Redefining marriage is not an issue of equality or fairness, as argued by those calling for this change. Equality does not mean sameness but recognises diversity. In the Scottish Government’s consultation document it is abundantly clear that homosexual couples already have the rights of marriage available through civil partnerships.
Despite the sincere promises to protect those who disagree with redefining marriage, we have well-founded misgivings about the religious liberty implications. However, our chief concern is that Scottish society will be the poorer if the definition of marriage is rewritten. Marriage is foundational and so much else rests upon it. You cannot radically alter the definition of marriage without it having knock-on effects on so much else in our society.
We agree with the Scottish Government that this debate should be conducted with courtesy and respect. We call upon First Minister Alex Salmond to uphold the clear understanding of marriage that has served Scotland well for centuries.
Signed by (in alphabetical order of church name):Pastor Stephen Ritchie, of Assemblies of God, FraserburghRevd Calum Iain Macleod, of Back Free Church, Isle of LewisPastor Stuart Keir, of Banchory Christian Fellowship ChurchRevd David MacPherson, of Bon Accord Free Church, AberdeenPastor Bernie McLaughlin, of Bridge Church, IrvineRevd Alex MacDonald, of Buccleuch & Greyfriars Free Church, EdinburghPastor Wayne Sutton, of Carrubbers Christian Fellowship, EdinburghMr Alasdair H B Fyfe, of Cartsbridge Evangelical Church, GlasgowRevd Jim Turrent, of Central Baptist Church, DundeeRevd Paul Rees, of Charlotte Chapel, EdinburghRevd Mark Malcolm, of Chryston Parish Church, GlasgowMr Chuck Freeland, of City Church, AberdeenRevd Thomas S Sinclair, of St Columba’s Church of Scotland, StornowayRevd Jim Robertson, of Culloden: The Barn Church of ScotlandRevd Jeremy Middleton, of Davidson Mains Parish ChurchPastor Jeremy McQuoid, of Deeside Christian Fellowship Church, AberdeenPastor Brian Taylor, of Destiny Church, AberdeenPastor Peter Anderson, of Destiny Church, EdinburghPastor Andrew Owen, of Destiny Church, GlasgowRevd Alex Cowie, of Dowanvale Free Church, GlasgowRevd Alistair Purss, of Dumfries Baptist ChurchRevd Graham Swanson, of Elgin Baptist ChurchPastor Tom Paton, of Elim Christian Fellowship, PaisleyRevd Derrick Thames, of Erskine Church of the NazareneRevd Michael R Healy, of Findlay Memorial Baptist Church, GlasgowRevd Peter Park, of Fraserburgh Old Church of ScotlandRevd Kenneth Gray, of Freeland Church of Scotland, Bridge of WeirRevd Matthew Henderson, of Gerrard Street Baptist Church, AberdeenRevd Dominic Smart, of Gilcomston South Church of Scotland, AberdeenRevd Iain Sutherland, of Gillespie Memorial Church, DumfermlineRevd Dr Colin Dow, of Glasgow City Free ChurchPastor James Glass, of Glasgow Elim Church, GovanhillMr Andrew Hunter, of Greenview Evangelical Church, GlasgowRevd Derek Hutchinson/Revd Graham Shearer, of Hamilton Baptist ChurchPastor Martin Clarke, of Hillview Community Church, AberdeenRevd Kenny Borthwick, of Holy Trinity Church, Wester HailesRevd Phil Hair, of Holyrood Abbey Church of Scotland, EdinburghRevd Murdo Maclean, of Kenmuir Mount Vernon and Carmyle Church of ScotlandThe Leadership of Kings Church, EdinburghDr Iain Duthie, of Kings Community Church, AberdeenRevd John C A Ferguson, of Kingsview Christian Centre, InvernessRevd Ian Watson, of Kirkmuirhill Church of Scotland, LanarkshireRevd David Scott, of Logie and St John’s (Cross) Church of Scotland, DundeeRevd Calum Stark, of Macduff Church of ScotlandRevd Tommy MacNeil, of Martin’s Memorial Church of Scotland, StornowayRevd Karl Martin, of Morningside Baptist Church, EdinburghRevd Francis Murphy, of Mount Kirk Church of Scotland, GreenockMr Steve Crosthwaite, of Newcraigs Evangelical Church, KirkcaldyPastor Brian More, of Newton Mearns Baptist Church, GlasgowRevd Calum Jack, of North Parish Church, StirlingPastor Iain Macaulay, of Queens Park Baptist Church, GlasgowPastor Joseph Ewen, of Riverside Church Network, BanffPastor Alastair Simmons, of Riverside Evangelical Church, AyrRevd David Meredith, of Smithton-Culloden Free Church, InvernessPastor Colin Mutch, of Southside Christian Fellowship, AyrRevd Derek Lamont, of St Columba’s Free Church, EdinburghRevd Dr William Philip, of St George’s Tron Church, GlasgowRevd Alberto de Paula, of St James’ Church of Scotland, Broughty FerryRevd Canon Malcolm Round, of St Mungo’s Church, Balerno, EdinburghRevd Fergus Buchanan, of St Paul’s Parish Church, MilngavieMr Bryan Kee, of St Peter’s Free Church of Scotland, DundeeRevd David McCarthy, of St Silas Episcopal Church, GlasgowRevd Jonathan de Groot, of St Stephen’s Comely Bank, EdinburghRevd Iver Martin, of Stornoway Free ChurchRevd Graeme Craig, of Stornoway Free Church ContinuingRevd Paul Amed, of Stornoway High Church of Scotland and Barvas Church of ScotlandRevd David M Clark, of Dundee: The Steeple ChurchPastor Jimmy Dowds, of The Vine, DunfermlineRevd Peter Dickson, of Trinity Church, AberdeenPastor Jamie Watters, of West End Vineyard Church, GlasgowRevd Alan McWilliam, of Whiteinch Church of ScotlandThe Leadership of Woodhill Evangelical Church, Bishopbriggs