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DUP councillor says same-sex marriage on ‘Songs of Praise’ was ‘seismic departure’ for the programme

Gareth Wilson says showing the segment was ‘not representative of Church opinion’

By Steve Brown

Words: Steve Brown

A DUP councillor has said a same-sex marriage on Songs of Praise was a ‘seismic departure’ for the programme.

In August, the long-running BBC show aired its first ever same-sex wedding as James Wallace and Ian McDowell walked down the aisle of the Rutherglen United Reformed Church, near Glasgow, after the local congregation gave their backing.

The fact that the religious show aired a same-sex wedding was praised by fans and the LGBTQ community and showed the BBC was moving forward to be more inclusive.

However, DUP councillor Gareth Wilson – who represents Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon – said showing the segment was ‘not representative of Church opinion’, the Belfast Telegraph reported.

He said: “Songs of Praise has traditionally been a feature-style programme reflective of Church life in the UK and is wholly reflective of the main Churches that operate within the UK.

“However, to feature a same-sex marriage in one of the very, very few Churches that have moved to offer such services, is a seismic departure for Songs of Praise and done without due consideration of the views of Churches, and indeed scripture, on this matter.

“The effect of this promotion and lack of an opposing position, served to inaccurately paint a picture of Churches who hold fast to the scriptures as a cornerstone as being in some way uncaring or non-compassionate.

“The longer term impact of that is to then see Churches that reject same-same marriage as being extreme or ‘out there’ and somehow unwelcoming.

“The BBC have taken a very deliberate promotional approach on this topic. This was very obvious and as the programme failed to reflect the prevailing and biblical Christian view on same-sex marriage, the programme was all the more regrettable.

“Many Christian groups and organisations have expressed their concerns already on this matter and rightly so.”

A BBC spokesperson said: “Three years ago the United Reformed Church decided to permit each of its congregations across the country to decide whether to allow same-sex marriages to take place.

“In an episode about Faith and Marriage, which aired on August 18, we featured the wedding of James and Ian, who got married in Rutherglen in Glasgow, to find out what it meant to them, as Christians, to be able to take their vows in church.”