The Steering Group of Evangelical Alliance Ireland have released a statement on marriage submitted to the Constitutional Convention. The Convention had invited statements on same-sex marriage by March 19.
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Full statement from the Evangelical Alliance Ireland Steering Group
1. Evangelical Alliance Ireland, contrary to general trends in the international and interdenominational evangelical movement, supported the Government’s declared intention to bring about a fair legislative response to the reality in Irish society of same-sex relationships, a process that resulted in the introduction of the Civil Partnerships Bill.
2. In this focused support of civil rights for homosexual people EAI demonstrated its commitment to affirming the civil rights of those with whom, on certain grounds, they otherwise disagreed. This support was based on a belief that evangelical Christians should have a concern not only for their own wellbeing but also for the wellbeing of society as a whole. It was also based on the recognition that the governments of modern societies must take account of the multiple worldviews and value systems of their diverse populations. Irish society comprises both secularist and religious approaches to society, and this diversity is expressed in what is more appropriately termed civil society. The ‘polis’ is neither entirely religious, nor entirely secularist, as currently being proposed by those who affirm the social philosophy which seeks, illiberally, to eradicate the religious voice from the public square.
3. EAI supports the development of a truly civil society. Therefore it is concerned that in the current (and democratically limited) process of contributing to the proposed further and aeon-changing step of redefining marriage in the Constitution the process itself is being ideologically driven, in no small part, by a philosophically secularist and not by a truly inclusive vision of a civil society, and will raise the possibility of further unforeseen and unintended violations of civil rights.
4. Evangelical Alliance Ireland does not regard the redefinition of marriage as either a progressive or a beneficial development in Irish society. Since heterosexual marriage has been the basic building block of virtually every society, change should only be considered where there is clear evidence that a new definition of marriage will bring social benefit to society as a whole. It is the responsibility of those proposing this radical change to produce such evidence.
5. We are concerned at what appears to be an inexorable move from a religious to a secularist society, rather than to a truly civil and democratic one. We believe this will lead to an increased social opprobrium for those for whom their religious convictions on marriage inform their conscience and practice and the instruction given to their children. The imposition by force of Constitutional law of an alternative point of social reference will probably expose individuals and organisations from a variety of religious traditions to censure, the removal of historic freedoms of conscience, and to other legal restrictions. This is already the case in the United Kingdom, and the language of the Irish political discourse in this process is notably devoid of specific and clear support for the religious freedoms guaranteed in Article 18 of the United Nations Convention on Human Rights. This opprobrium is made evident in the language of many of the submissions to this Convention and in some of the higher-profile political statements.
6. The imposition upon Irish society by law of the moral norms of one religious group only is as illiberal as the opposing intention to impose on a diverse society a social and legal obligation to affirm same-sex marriage as normative and morally neutral.
7. EAI regards proposals to amend the constitution in respect of marriage as a retrograde step for Irish family life and for Irish society as a whole, working against rather than for the common good.
8. Furthermore EAI urges due regard for the rights of the faith traditions in Ireland that have contributed so notably to the wellbeing of our society.
9. Rather than the inappropriate move to redefine marriage other provisions of the Civil Partnerships Bill should be considered.
10. Evangelical Alliance Ireland is available to engage further with the Convention on this matter.