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Bishop’s comments disappoint Scott

Minister in charge of Human Rights, Wayne Scott was “disappointed” by Bishop Lloyd Duncan’s comments at a prayer gathering at City Hall.

But he would not comment on whether the church leader was out of order for wading into the political realm.

Bishop Duncan urged the Government yesterday to “exercise biblical caution and spiritual restraint as you seek to approve what God’s word does not endorse and as you seek to legislate what heaven has deemed inadmissible from the inception of time.”

He said: “With all humility of heart, I submit to the OBA Government that it is too early in your political governance to make such a critical error in what can only be termed as a lethal mistake.”

Government plans to table amendments to the Human Rights Act in Parliament tomorrow — including the prohibition against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Mr Scott said that he had spoken with Bishop Duncan following the one hour gathering.

“My takeaway from that is the church does not support discrimination, but the church is concerned about where this will lead, and that’s consistent with what a few people have said from various churches,” the Minister said.

But same sex marriage is not on the agenda, Mr Scott said.

Mr Scott said: “I was disappointed actually by those comments, and I can appreciate that the church is concerned with same sex marriage. I assume that he is concerned that this (amendment) is opening the gates to that.”

And the Minister added that his view is that basic human rights are not inconsistent with biblical teachings.

“The Bible that I read talks about we don’t need to bring saints into the church, we need to bring sinners into the church, and Jesus Christ himself lambasted the scribes, and Pharisees, in the temple for focusing so much on technicalities that they were missing the point of grace, and that God loves us all,” Mr Scott said.

“This amendment is about basic human rights. This amendment is not about same sex unification. They are persecuting Christians in certain parts of the world because people think it is wrong. Black people were enslaved for years because people didn’t think we deserve the same rights.

“Everywhere in our Human Rights Act where we currently have religion, we will have sexual orientation. Everywhere in our Human Rights Act where we currently have race, family status, we will have sexual orientation, because discrimination is not an option. From my understanding the churches don’t have an issue with that because discrimination is discrimination.”

As to criticism that Government’s support, and endorsement of, the national prayer initiative was an unhealthy violation of the principle of separation of church and state, Mr Scott said that Western civilisation “is built on the fear of God.”

“There’s a recognition that prayer is important,” he said. “The basic tenets of Western civilisation is the fear of God. And it was also mentioned for those who do not see Christ as the higher power, whoever your higher power is, reach out to them because there’s a power greater than ourselves, because we are coming unglued, and we need help.”

But the Minister added: “There’s a fundamental difference between acknowledging the need for prayer, and the need for a power greater than ourselves, and having the church dictate what constitutional laws are put down.

“And the Human Rights Act is a perfect example of that. I’m laying the Human Rights Act because it’s the right thing to do. Period. There’s no ‘ifs’, ‘ands’ or ‘buts’ about it.

“I personally am a Christian, but the responsibility of Government is to create an environment where discrimination is not allowed. And my personal views have absolutely nothing to do with what is right, or wrong, as far as human rights.

“But the state is responsible for creating a level playing field.”

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Published May 17, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 16, 2013 at 10:50 pm)

Bishop’s comments disappoint Scott

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