Cleric chastises Armagh Presbytery on gay debate

Rev David Latimer.
Rev David Latimer.

An influential Presbyterian minister is “unhappy” after Portadown cleric Rev Christina Bradley was hauled in front of the Armagh Presbytery for her controversial views on the Republic’s same-sex marriage referendum.

Mrs Bradley stood alone within Presbyterianism when she described the 62 per cent majority as “inclusive and compassionate”. She made her views known during the June General Assembly, with the Presbytery immediately calling a special meeting.

The upshot was a commission of the Presbytery. She was placed under pressure by the ultra-conservative body to recant. A statement to that effect was read out in her Armagh Road Presbyterian Church last month, while she had to sit and listen.

But she has received support from Rev David Latimer from First Derry – not necessarily for her views, but for the fact that she was chastened for expressing them.

Mr Latimer told the BBC ‘Talkback’ programme that it smacked of “totalitarianism” and was contrary to the Presbyterian tradition of Freedom of Speech. He told the Portadown Times, “It smacked more of North Korea than Northern Ireland.

“Diversity of views has always been part of Presbyterianism. I’m not saying whether or not I support Mrs Bradley’s views, but I do support her right to express them. The Presbytery action is contrary to the Gospel, where John 3:16 states that God so loved the world the whole, He excludes nobody.”

Mr Latimer added that his views had been supported by many people throughout Presbyterianism – “people cannot be silenced or crushed in this way”.