Reflections on Belfast Pride 2012

People from Faith and Pride supporting the Belfast Pride parade – that’s me on the right. Photo by Phil O’Kane.

Yesterday was the Belfast Pride parade. I was one of a group of Christians who stood in High Street (just outside St George’s Parish Church) to support the parade. During the course of the day I met two interesting people.

The first was a woman called Pat. I was standing, waving at the parade, holding one end of the Faith and Pride banner. Pat was in the crowd standing next to me. During a quiet period I muttered something to myself about my arm being sore. Pat overheard, and she offered to hold the banner for me. Pat was about the same age as my mother, and her banner holding really helped me. If you are reading this, Pat, thank you. It was lovely standing next to you as we watched the parade.

After the parade had gone past and the crowd had largely dispersed, I was standing on High Street, chatting to some of the other Christian parade supporters. That’s when I met the second interesting person. He was wearing a shirt and tie, and looked to be in his late twenties (although I’m never any good at estimating ages). He was handing out religious leaflets — produced by Magherafelt Outreach — and he offered me one. I accepted his leaflet, and offered him one of my Faith and Pride cards in return. A discussion of what the Bible says about same-sex relationships ensued. He said that the Bible says same-sex relationships are unnatural. I asked him where it said that. He said Romans. I tried to talk to him about what Romans means, and how reading it in context leads to a very different understanding. He wasn’t prepared to discuss things with me and ended up telling me I was blaspheming. He refused even to accept a Faith and Pride card. That, to me, is the very anthesis of liberal Christianity. It is a peculiar arrogance that borders on a claim to infallibility coupled with a strange lack of confidence in the strength of one’s own beliefs.

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