The blog of Dr Glenn Andrew Peoples on Theology, Philosophy, and Social Issues

Presbyterian Church states the obvious, and the media lies about it. Same old.


Today the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ) voted to ban people in sexual unions outside of marriage from entering the ministry.What a shock. What other conclusion could they have come to? This means that a man who is in a sexual relationship with a woman that he is not married to – or to any person that he is not married to for that matter – cannot become a minister in the church. This is not surprising for a Christian Church. The wording of the vote was explicit: People in a sexual relationship outside of marriage cannot be ministers.

Now let’s look at how the media reported it. The International Herald Tribune, using Allied Press as a source, ran with this headline:

“New Zealand Presbyterians ban gays from church leadership roles”

Ooo, look, the church is singling out gays! No, actually the quote was that nobody in a sexual relationship outside of marriage can become a minister. This includes same sex couples, yes, but it does not single out gays. There is nothing about this vote that implies that a gay person could not become a minister, provided he or she did not engage in sexual relations outside of marriage, and exactly the same standard applies to heterosexual candidates for the ministry.

The Asia-Pacific News, using Deutsche-Presse Agenteur as its source, used a similar headline:

“Presbyterian Church in New Zealand votes to ban gay ministers

No. This is false. It is a lie. Heterosexuals and homosexuals are in the same boat on this one. Nobody who is having a sexual relationship outside of marriage can become a minister. Get it?

The New Zealand Herald was equally dishonest:

“Presbyterian Church votes to exclude gay ministers

Simon Collins wrote the story in this case. Simon, you lied (or you’re gullible).

But all is not lost. In a shock revelation, I discovered that some media outlets used a headline that was actually not misleading! Radio New Zealand used this:

“Presbyterian church members vote in favour of relationship rule

Thank you. The story accompanying the headline is quite correct: “The rule bars anyone in a sexual relationship outside marriage from training or becoming ordained.”

A friend of mine, Stuart Lange was asked the question by a Three News reporter after the vote: “Isn’t this just intolerance, pure and simple?” His reply was right on: “Well, you only call it intolerance because it reflects a belief different from yours.” Bingo. Christianity has always been intolerant. There just is a difference between Christian and non-Christian. To have literally no intolerance would mean accepting all beliefs and practices everywhere as equally acceptable. To expect a Church to do that is extraordinary to put it mildly.

Glenn Peoples


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  1. Matt Tucker

    ‘Well, you only call it intolerance because it reflects a belief different from yours.’ Wow, I’ll need to remember that one. And, yeah, no surprise on the whole thing in general.

  2. Right on! Viva la intolerancia!

  3. Geoff

    right on Stu 🙂 He’s like, one of my favorite people ever. And I think the Presbytarians did a stellar jjob of making this NOT about homosexuality. The media suck. Although, they will just claim they are reading between the lines.

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