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Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble:

for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand, Joel 2:1.


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Thursday, 22 April 2010

An attack upon our civil and religious liberties

The consultation document which forms part of the review of parading published by the OFMdFM contains a direct attack upon our civil and religious liberties.


The working group set up by Sinn Fein and the DUP have moved beyond reviewing legislation on parades & related protests and are now seeking to place restrictions on all public assemblies or protests. Freedom of peaceful assembly, which our forefathers fought and died for, instead of being a fundamental right will now become a privilege that has to be applied for and by inference can and will be restricted or denied in certain circumstances.


1. Permission will have to be obtained from a new government quango to hold an open-air gospel meeting, where more than 50 people will be present. Notice will have to be given 37 days in advance and this new body will decide whether it is lawful to go ahead with the open-air meeting. Those opposed to the open-air meeting taking place will be able to register their objections with the purpose of having the meeting ruled unlawful or having it restricted.


Objectors will have up to 7 days prior to the open air meeting taking place to register their objections.


If this proposed legislation becomes law the fundamental civil and religious right of free assembly has been taken away. Our freedom to worship in the open air will be subject to the say so of a government quango. You can be sure that any sympathy towards the Gospel will be lacking in this new body.


2. Permission will have to be sought from this quango to hold a protest where more than 50 people will be present. This time 22 days notice will have to be given and this new body will decide whether the protest can go ahead or what restrictions will be placed upon it.


3. This quango will be charged with facilitating mediation between 'the organiser' and 'the protestor'. They: 'may take into account a person’s participation or non-participation in any meeting convened under this section' when deciding on the lawfulness of any meeting or protest. When preaching the gospel or protesting against sin we can have no dialogue with those we oppose about what is acceptable. The Word of God is our rule. Are they going to tell us that we cannot use certain words or phrases as part of the assembly or protest? This we cannot accept.


The Free Presbyterian Church holds many open-air services as part of its witness. In Newtownabbey we hold open-airs every Lord's Day after the evening service, June - August, weather permitting. If these proposals become law then we are going to be told when, where and whether we can have these open-airs. This is totally unacceptable and a denial of religious liberty.


The Free Presbyterian Church holds many protests as part of its witness. We protest against ecumenical gatherings. We protest against immoral gatherings whether at theatres or other places. Again these are going to be subject to the whim of this quango. Can you see them giving us permission to protest again sodomy and other vile sins that are displayed in public? I think not!


Not only are these proposals impractical but they smack of an overbearing, authoratarian, anti-Christian, police state. Many, if not most, public assemblies and protests are organised at short notice. What about protests which may be organised in just a few days or even hours? This means that if we do not submit a request on time no public meeting or protest could take place. This is a blatant attempt to erode religious freedom and liberty and shame upon any who have any part in bringing it into existence.


Curtailing the right to worship and peaceful protest should be a matter of grave concern to every believer. We should not treat this matter lightly. Dark days are coming for the gospel witness in this Province. The old battles which our forefathers fought are going to have to be fought again.


Update

It would further seem that convicted terrorists will be able to sit in judgment on these issues. It is only convictions subsequent to appointment to this body that will necessitate resignation. There is the possibility that those who have engaged in murder and mayhem will now be able to decide whether we can preach the gospel or protest against sin. How true it is: when the wicked beareth rule the people mourn, Prov 29:2.

12 comments:

Rev Mervyn Cotton (Heb13:6) said...

Christian greetings in our Saviour's name;I found the article informative and timely. However this attack upon our civil and religious liberty was sanctioned by Paisleyism; Brian, it was your former moderator that sat down with convicted criminals in the assembly, it was Rev Ian Paisley that surrendered and betrayed the doctrine of separation, which Free Presbyterianism once aspired to, in order to fellowship with Sinn Fein.

It is impossible for the Free Presbyterian Church to defend or uphold our civil and religious liberties on the one hand, while on the other, to be found supporting terrorist inclusive government; how can your ministerial and presbytery colleagues aspire to spiritual separation, while at the same time supporting a devolved assembly that is morally bankrupt and wedded to secular humanism.

It is time to separate unto Christ, without the camp of compromise, so as to earnestly contend for the faith.

Mervyn Cotton (Heb13:6)

Rev Brian McClung said...

Mervyn

The Free Presbyterian Church has never supported 'terrorist inclusive government'. I am unaware of any statements being made to back up your assertion. Maybe you would be so kind as to provide the statement[s] issued by the Presbytery that supports this claim.

Rev Brian McClung

Rev Mervyn Cotton (Heb13:6) said...

Hello Brian,

Many thanks for your response; since the Free Presbyterian Church supports various DUP members of local government and members of the power sharing executive, it gives the public perception of supporting the Stormont executive, which you say is terrorist inclusive. These public representatives are members of your denomination and have not been censored by the church for their public support of these bodies.

Moreover, Rev Ian Paisley occupied a pulpit in the Free Presbyterian Church, while at the same time took his seat in the power sharing executive with IRA Sinn Fein; there has been no public statement from your presbytery denouncing this breach of the church's position on separation. Similarly, Rev William McCrea occupies another Free Presbyterian pulpit while publicly supporting political power sharing with convicted criminals; now what are the public to make of these facts, other than to perceive that the Free Presbyterian Church supports such an inclusive power sharing executive.

It would be most beneficial, if you could use your good influence and ensure that presbytery would urgently issue a statement clarifying the church's position on separation in the light of Rev Ian Paisley's decision to share power with Sinn Fein; and perhaps a little clarification on the churches position on political association, regarding DUP and TUV.

Mervyn Cotton (Heb13:6)

Rev Brian McClung said...

Mervyn - you are making an assertion you cannot prove.

To say: 'since the Free Presbyterian Church supports various DUP members of local government and members of the power sharing executive…' is stating something you have not proved.

The FPC has offered no such support to any DUP member and as far I am aware will not be doing so.

You may feel that the FPC hasn't gone far enough but it is worth remembering that the majority of the evangelical opposition to 'terrorist inclusive government' has come from Free Presbyterians.

It mightn't be as far as you and others wish but it is a lot more than what is coming from other quarters.

Rev Brian McClung

Rev Mervyn Cotton (Heb13:6) said...

Hello Brian,

Thanks for your latest response; I am absolutely staggered by your comment, ‘The FPC has offered no such support to any DUP member and as far as I am aware will not be doing so’. It is a matter of public record that Rev Ian Paisley held the position of leader of the DUP and moderator of the FPC; clearly the FPC supported the DUP leader as many sermon audios and personal testimony will prove. Brian, are you seriously suggesting that the FPC does not support Rev Ian Paisley and Rev W McCrea as DUP members, perhaps they will be a little surprised at this.

Presently some FPC ministers and members are publicly supporting the DUP Sinn Fein power sharing executive, as the press can testify in articles from Rev Ian Paisley and Rev W McCrea. Brian, when you say that, ‘the majority of evangelical opposition to (‘terrorist inclusive government’) has come from Free Presbyterians’, this is rather difficult to follow, seeing some of your denomination make up that very inclusive government; as you are well aware, ‘no man can serve two masters’.

Mervyn Cotton (Heb13:6)

Rev Brian McClung said...

Staggered you may be Mervyn but surely you know very well what an individual says is not the Presbytery of the FPC speaking. I don't speak for the Presbytery. That is one reason why this blog is subtitled 'the personal blog of Brian McClung'. That is all it is. I don't have the authority to speak for the Presbytery and would not claim to do so. Neither does anyone else speaking on their own behalf. That is a simple principle of Presbyterian Church government.

When the Presbytery of the FPC makes its view known on something then it is clear it is the Presbytery's view for it will either come from the Clerk or the Moderator speaking with the authority of the Presbytery. You know that very well for you set in the Presbytery for a time if I am not mistaken.

Now I ask you again show me where the Presbytery has made any official statement that shows support for the present arrangements at Stormont. You will not find any.

Unless you do so this conversation is going nowhere for it commenced with the unsupported claim that the FPC was 'supporting terrorist inclusive government'. You are reduced to subsequently claiming that 'public perception' [comment no. 2] says so. This is miles short of what you initially asserted and betrays your inability to provide any supporting evidence.

So please speak to the point for the conversation to continue!!

A WITNESS FOR CHRIST, formerly ASK DR PAISLEY said...

Rev. McClung:

Question:

Has the FPC Presbytery issued a formal statement to clarify precisely where their denomination stands with respect to murderers in government and/or the terrorist-inclusive Stormont administration?

June

Rev Brian McClung said...

Yes

Rev Brian McClung

A WITNESS FOR CHRIST, formerly ASK DR PAISLEY said...

Rev. McClung,

In answer to my question:

Has the FPC Presbytery issued a formal statement to clarify precisely where their denomination stands with respect to murderers in government and/or the terrorist-inclusive Stormont administration?

you have responded YES.

Can you replicate that statement here for the benefit of the readers of your blog.

Regards,

June / II Cor. 6:14-18

Rev Brian McClung said...

June

Sorry, the 'comment section' doesn't have the facility to attach documents.

Brian McClung

A WITNESS FOR CHRIST, formerly ASK DR PAISLEY said...

Rev. McClung,

In answer to my question . .

Has the FPC Presbytery issued a formal statement to clarify precisely where their denomination stands with respect to murderers in government and/or the terrorist-inclusive Stormont administration?

you have answered "YES".

In answer to my request to post that statement, you said:

"
Sorry, the 'comment section' doesn't have the facility to attach documents."

Could you post the link to the document for the benefits of the readers of your blog?

Regards,

June / II Cor. 6:14-18

Rev Brian McClung said...

Sorry June

I am unaware of anywhere that it is to be found on the internet, so I can't link to it.

Brian McClung