Friday, 29 July 2011

'Hymn or Us' without Him

Last night the Rev David McIlveen didn't turn up to GLYNI (Gay and Lesbian Youth Northern Ireland's) even for the Belfast Pride Festival entitled "Hymn or Us". It was a look at can homosexuality and being LGBT co-exist. Earlier in the week on BBC Radio Ulster's Wendy Talks Back while discussing the non-appearance of Jim Wells at the "Pride on the Hill" David McIlveen and Simon Rae the secretary of Belfast Pride both showed that Rev McIlveen was more than welcome to return to Pride in the debate that was due to happen last night; he'd appeared at a similar event last year.

However, Rev McIlveen was unable to attend dues to "an issue in his church". He was replaced by a Church of Ireland lay preacher Dermot O’Callaghan, who along with Mike Davidson of Core Issues, Pádraig Ó Tuama of Irish Peace Centres and Rev Chris Hudson of All Souls Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church took questions from the audience directed by the BBC William Crawley.

The discussion was wide ranging seeing as there were a high number of LGBT people of faith in the room with a vast variety of personal experiences. There also were a number of straight people in the room, some the parents of LGBT children, one a young man training to be a minister in the Presbyterian Church.

Dermot O'Callaghan tried to use some rather selective science, just as yesterday Rev McIlveen's church tried to use rather selective readings from the King James Bible, to say that being gay was down to nurture not nature. Apparently it is not the same as left handedness or skin colour as something we are born with because there are twins who are not both gay, I know some twins who are not both left handed as well. Well there was one blogger's father who asked the pertinent question about how he didn't bring up his sons to be gay, he didn't nurture them that way, and did that make him a bad father or his wife a bad mother.

Somebody else had asked Mike Davidson of Core Issues after he said that he started with the presumption that homosexuality was a sin and that reparative therapy wouldn't work for everyone, did that mean that some people were beyond salvation. After a bit of stumbling he said yes. But William Crawley also challenged him on his qualifications, or lack thereof for giving therapy. The killing blow came when he was asked "Most therapists see someone unqualified providing therapy and counselling as unethical." Davidson actually replied "Yes" before going on to try and cover his tracks.

Chris Hudson brought up a good point about those who disagree that you can be gay and a Christian, as these people concentrate more on the practise that the being. He said that the bible isn't a sex guide but a book about love with a care ethic.

Then the young Presbyterian Minister in training got up near the end. Admitting that these were his first baby steps into this whole element of theological thought. But at least he was there. He saw that the LGBT community can respect those that disagree with us and not shout them down, lock them out or ignore their opinions as is often the case in the reverse. I hope he does look at these things more fully, I obviously gave him a few tips of where to start from within the PCI, like the Board of Social Witnesses own pastoral guidelines and what they are doing about the action points, something I may have blogged about before.

Anyway it was a night of good discussion and there was certainly a lot to take away and think about, as much for the panellists and those in the audience.

Update Thanks to IcedCoffee for pointing me in the direction of this Vlog by @RuthEbabes

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