U.K. Christians Expect More Difficulties After Civil Partnerships Vote

LONDON – A conservative group in the Church of England says Christians in the United Kingdom will face an "even more difficult environment" following last week's vote by the House of Lords to lift a ban on civil partnership ceremonies in churches.

Church Society said Friday that it fears clergy of established churches will be under particular pressure to conduct ceremonies they feel in their conscience to be wrong.

"Because of other legislation in recent years, purporting to be about equality, this latest change will create an even more difficult environment for Christians," Church Society stated.

"For many Christians, the anti-Christian nature of recent legislation, supported by all the main political parties, creates a particular problem," it added.

Last Tuesday, the Lords overturned the ban under the Civil Partnerships Act on same sex unions taking place on religious premises. The late night vote also allowed religious language to be used during the ceremony.

Following the vote, Dr. Don Horrocks, head of public affairs at the Evangelical Alliance, urged the government to make clear that no church will ever in the future be able to be successfully sued on grounds of discrimination for failing to allow a civil ceremony while it continues to permit religious marriages.

Still, the Evangelical Alliance fears the change in the law will undermine the right of churches to refuse to conduct such ceremonies and leave them confused about what they are allowed to do.

Church Society echoed concerns of the Evangelical Alliance and that other Christians who believe churches may now face legal action if they refuse to conduct such ceremonies on their premises.

Church Society said it had been a "grave mistake" to legalize civil partnerships and that the family had been undermined.

"In this, as in other areas, we are witnessing political leaders who are abandoning the wisdom of God in preference for the folly of man," it stated.

"The mainstream parties have all abandoned the Christian moral tradition and the Biblical foundations of our legal and education systems," the group added.

"Christians will not want to vote for political parties who are antagonistic to their beliefs and who are acting to prevent Christians living in accordance with their faith."