The Elim Pentecostal Church minister who is prepared to go to prison to oppose new laws allowing equal rights for homosexuals has hit out at local politicians.
The Rev Eric McComb said last night the failure by political leaders to stop the bill being introduced "would place all honest Christians in a terrible position", and was scathing in his criticism of those he claimed "lacked the necessary moral fibre to be open and honest about their true feelings."
"One of the saddest things for me in the recent Stormont debate was the sight of leading Catholic politicians, individuals I know and respect on a personal basis, backing the new Bill.
"By looking over their shoulders in the context of the forthcoming elections they effectively declined to show the moral courage to actually come out and even acknowledge that there was a legitimacy to those opposed to the Gay Rights movement.
"We make no apology about taking this stand. The Pentecostal movement, on the basis of Holy Scripture, views homosexuality as being deviant and sinful."
Mr McComb said he feared the introduction of the new regulations would result in legal action being brought against devout Christians who were " following their conscience" by refusing gay people access to their church.
"All we are asking for is that the same respect for our views and beliefs is recognised by those that want to enshrine homosexual activity as being legal.
"If they choose to follow a certain lifestyle that we as fundamental Christians find abhorrent then they also have to accept the consequences of their decision.
"The choice is theirs. All we are doing is making the same kind of choice in refusing to have them in our church," he said.
However, Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association president PA MagLochlainn believes the minister's comments were made out of a misinformed fear and invited him to take part in an open discussion.
"We are not intent on ramming anything down anyone's throat," he said.
"These regulations do not attack any of their religious beliefs, they can teach what they like. They are about equal rights.
"That is why I am prepared to meet and discuss the regulations with him to show that they are not as drastic as he thinks."
Mr MagLochlainn said all the bill did was ensure gay and lesbian people had the same rights as the rest of the community and could not understand why the minister would refuse to allow a gay person to be involved in church activities.
"Christ was able to eat with sinners. Are they greater than their masters?" he said.