Church's 'frustration and deep concern' at Northern Ireland political impasse
A former Presbyterian Moderator slammed the current level of public comment and debate in an address yesterday to the General Assembly in Belfast.
The Very Reverend Dr Norman Hamilton, who is the Church's convenor of the council for public affairs, said: "All too often language is used that is demeaning, slippery and sometimes downright vulgar.
"We seem to be building a politics that is almost devoid of consistent Christian or Gospel values.
"We are in an environment where we worship the ever-changing god of personal choice and political preference, and where the Biblical commandment to the common good with shared national and community values has almost disappeared.
"This is one of the core reasons why the so-called progressive politics of abortion and assisted dying/euthanasia are so deeply disturbing."
Dr Hamilton pointed out that "the elected representatives about whom there is so much frustration and disappointment were given their responsibilities by hundreds of thousands of ordinary people, including those of us here in the Assembly".
The General Assembly passed a strongly-worded resolution expressing its "deep concern and frustration about the prolonged absence of an Executive in Northern Ireland, the resulting stagnation in public policy, and the negative effects on the most vulnerable in society".
It repeated the call "for all involved in the political process to find a resolution that establishes good and stable government based on good working relationships".
The General Assembly also noted "with concern the sense of disillusionment and low morale" in schools, and called on politicians to set aside differences to provide strong leadership and clarity for a way forward for education.
The General Assembly affirmed the "important role" of religious education and the encouragement of time-tabling and resourcing "to reflect its fundamental value to school life".
Andrew Brown, the convenor of the state education committee, told the Assembly: "Morale is at the lowest point that I have seen in my two-and-a-half decades involved in the education profession.
"Those who should be making decisions feel that they can't, while those who should be implementing those decisions have neither the resources nor the support to do so."
Mr Brown added: "We need our politicians back in post, back at their desks, and back making the big and difficult decisions."