Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 31 May 2016

Time for Christian tolerance to prevail

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 03/09/2013

The unseemly row in Ballynahinch Congregational Church on Sunday was an affront to common decency, and also to the very essence of Christianity. It was most unfortunate that the row was allowed to escalate to the level where the police were called in. It was also particularly damning that the PSNI had to remind those present that the disrupting of a religious service constitutes a breach of the peace.

Obviously this was a row that had been simmering for a long time, and which eventually spilled over into disgraceful scenes that should not be witnessed in any church.

It is clear that passions were high but that is no excuse for conflict in a church which is a place where people seek shelter and not confrontation.

Some group or individual should have taken control of the situation long before now.

No one wants this kind of publicity for their church, but once a dispute reaches this level, and the police are called in, it is often impossible to turn the clock back.

Sadly, the Ballynahinch church will have to live with its stigma of bad behaviour for some time to come.

Some members may reflect on their actions but many others who have nothing to do with the dispute must be bitterly disappointed with how things have turned out.

The sad truth remains that while certain people try to rise above intolerance and confrontation, some others believe that "turning the other cheek", as they are taught in the Bible, is a sign of weakness.

On the contrary, it is a sign of strength, and some members of Ballynahinch Congregational Church have much to do to repair the divisions in their midst and to convince outsiders that they really are worthy of the name "Christian."

The dispute at Ballynahinch would almost be comical if it was not so sad.

It is time for peace and Christian charity to take over at Ballynahinch Congregational Church, instead of the nonsense of two days ago.

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