Church leaders knock Obama’s same-sex marriage endorsement

BY NADINE WILSON Observer staff reporter ?wilsonn@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, May 11, 2012

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SEVERAL local church leaders have expressed disappointment over US president, Barack Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriages on Wednesday. Obama declared during an interview on ABC News that same -sex couples should be allowed to get married.


His statement sparked widespread criticism from conservative Christians and commendations from gay rights activists and liberal groups.


"For me, personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married," the president said.


Yesterday, locals pastors held firm to their long-held belief that marriage was an institution created by God for a man and a woman.


"We believe that God ordained marriage for man and woman and nothing has changed and nothing should change," said Reverend Lenworth Anglin, executive chairman of the Church of God in Jamaica.


However, given America’s influence on countries such as Jamaica, he said the church should continue to remain vigilant.


"We just have to monitor this thing very carefully as some of us have been already on the alert as church leaders. We have to make sure that we stick to what we believe in as a church, and proclaim that," he said.


President of the Independent Churches of Jamaica, Bishop Joseph Adegold, said he, too, was disappointed but not surprised given the financial backing Obama stands to gain from civil rights groups.


"We are not sure why he would go to that length, but it is not surprising because he has been showing that sign for some time, that he is supporting gay marriages," he said.


President of the Jamaica Association of Evangelicals, Reverend Rennard White, said he too was disappointed and surprised, but felt the president’s endorsement would not have any adverse impact on Jamaica’s own political posture.


"I wasn’t expecting that," he said, before adding, "I know that he was very open in that respect and showed some kind of extremely liberal attitude, especially where the gay agenda and gay community are involved. But I really didn’t expect him to go so far out. So, I am disappointed really with that. I understand, but I am really disappointed and I really disagree with his position."


Pastor of the Christ Light Assemblies in Spanish Town, Everton Thompson, believes that while Obama might have issued the statement to appease the more liberal Democrats in his constituent, he might have hurt his political ambitions in the process.


"I think it is going to blow up back in his face. He did it to win the election, but it is going to blow up back in his face," he stated.


Both Archbishop of Kingston Donald Reece and Bishop of Jamaica and Cayman Islands Reverend Howard Gregory feel Obama’s stance would have been more widely accepted had he endorsed civil unions as opposed to gay marriages.


"It’s not a matter of marriage as contrary to the Judeo Christian tradition, but it’s a matter of a civil arrangement whereby person’s with shared property, for instance — whether they be two women or a man and a woman — when they die, then the other one would get the benefit," Bishop Reece pointed out.


Gregory noted that while Obama’s statement might have given added motivation for gay rights groups, he could only speak as a world leader and did not have any moral or religious authority to speak for the church.


"As far as his pronouncement goes with regards to equating same-sex gender with marriage, that is off the table for me and certainly for most Christians because that is an untenable position," he said.


Even so, he said some Christians would have supported him had he endorsed civil unions because that would be less problematic.


"I think there is some merit to be said for civil unions; persons can have friendships of the same gender and it is their right to leave other persons their property and to have access to certain things if that person might want to share whatever benefit they are entitled," he said.


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