Ministers attending Mass

The rows which follow Nelson McCausland seem to be continuing. Last week Sinn fein put down a motion condemning Nelson McCausland for saying that he would not attend a service of worship in a Catholic church. On Sunday Sequence (37 mins in), Raymond McCartney of Sinn Fein and David McConaghie of the Caleb foundation debated the issue; in addition the moderator of the Presbyterian Church Dr. Stafford Carson said that Mr. McCausland would not be endorsing Catholicism if he attended a religious service in a Catholic church.

Raymond McCartney’s position was essentially that a minister in keeping with their oath of office should attend such a service whilst David McConaghie suggested that it was a fundamental issue of human rights as to whether or not Nelson McCausland was allowed to follow his religious beliefs (by not attending mass).

The interjection from Dr. Carson is interesting and is one position held to within fundamentalism; one which is clearly at variance with McCausland’s. Of course Nelson McCausland is not a Presbyterian but an Independent Methodist and incidentally a highly rated theologian in his own right: in addition it must be remembered that as fundamentalists hold to the priesthood of all believers, Nelson must follow how he feels the Holy Spirit leads him and is answerable to God for his own actions.

  • If the man hsa religious convictions that prevent him from attending Catholic mass, then there is no reason he should have to do so. I have no idea what McCartney is hoping to gain from making this argument, other than a petty and pathetic sectarian swipe.

    As a republican in the tradition of Tone and Connolly, I believe in secularism. Government ministers shouldn’t be attending religious services as part of their duties at all.

  • martin

    Interesting and surprising comment from Carson. At variance with historical position of PCI. How high office corrupts ! What will Nelson’s downfall be ?

  • John O’Connell

    Not a bad bit of amorality from Raymond McCartney, and given that his leader’s name comes out at 666 (try A=6, b=12, c=18, … , z=156) as does Mr McCausland’s former leader, big Ian, it would seem that it is a clash of the Godless ideologues at the heart of our society. I note Raymond makes no mention of his own Catholicism if he has any.

  • wild turkey

    ‘Of course Nelson McCausland is not a Presbyterian but an Independent Methodist and incidentally a highly rated theologian in his own right:’

    Turgon, I have googled most meaningful combinations of Nelson, McCausland (Theologian and/or Theology)

    Result? Nada. Perhaps you can provide some links to demonstrate the good ministers theological chops.

    On a seperate note and the use of the term ‘fundamentalism’. As a practising Orthodox christain, the Orthodox church would view itself as the fundamental Christain church. Some, perhaps many, in the Orthodox church, would see the Roman church and its plethora of protestant offshoots to be,uh fundamentally, a marketing and military exercise that went horribly wrong.

    That said we neither take, nor hopefully, give offense. While I acknowledge that the taking (never the giving) of offense is a dynamic peculiar to these island at the root of our Orthodox prayers is a simple plea to inform our daily practice. It is this.

    ‘If I hate the sin, let me love and forgive the sinner’

    Admitedly, we have a neglible presence on this island.

    The submit word is ‘sense’. I humbly thrive in the holy spirit.

  • Turgon

    wild turkey,
    McCausland taught in a visiting capacity at the Independent Methodist bible college and his sermons are theologically very interesting.

    On the topic of fundamentalist it is a deliberate tactic on my part as I feel that the term has been hijacked to mean a particular brand of Islam (or other faiths) which condones the use of terrorist violence. I agree that one can be a fundamentalist Catholic, Orthodox or Muslim etc. without that having any pro violence connotations so my use of the term is indeed poor. I could use the word evangelical but to me (very unfairly) it implies a charismatic tendency.

  • ulsterfan

    I find it strange that Sf should raise this subject, when after all their founder de Velera refused to attend the funeral of the first President of Ireland because of his own religious views .
    I should of course mention the President was a Protestant and the Prime Minister of the Day could only stand outside St Patricks Cathederal in Dublin when the funeral service was taking place.
    Being a Protestant he was not entitled to a State funeral although he had been head of State.
    What discriminarion. SF are only making fools of themselves .
    Is McCauseland and everyone else in this country not entitled to act according to their conscience and should be given respect.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    It is of course acceptable for Nelson McCausland to attend or not attend anything he likes in a personal capacity.

    However when he is acting as a Minister of the State he is representing the people of Northern Ireland of all religions and none. As such he must be able to attend all types of religious or non religious activities as dictated by the position he took.

    It is clear that he should not have accepted a post that puts him in a position where he has to choose between two conflicting requirements of his Church and his position as a Minister.

    As he is unable to completely fulfil his functions as Minister he should resign and abide by his religious convictions.

  • Ulsterfan,

    Surely if McCausland is entitled not to go to Catholic mass for theological reasons, Dev was entitled not to go to a funeral service for theological reasons?

  • “Sf should raise this subject, when after all their founder de Velera”

    Really? Founder?

    I was always under the impression that Arthur Griffith founded Sinn Féin in 1905.

    Do you rewrite history often?

    The incident you describe was indeed disgusting and anti-Republican.

    Then again the party concerned was Fanna Fáil, not Sinn Féin

  • ulsterfan

    Chris Gaskin

    de Velera was Sinn Feinn through and through and was indeed one of its founders.
    Griffiths did not act alone .
    Perhaps you can check if de Velera stood as a Parliamentary candidate for SF which might settle the matter.
    He did indeed identify with FF but that was SF with an Armani suit and the guns put under the bed for another time if needed.
    He carried the baggage of sectarianism and being a politician in a theocratic State where he was a servant of the Archbishop preventing the appointment Protestants to public office
    Not really the hall mark of republicanism.

  • lula

    I cannot say I understand the issue with attending the service of another faith but if that’s the man’s genuinely held beliefs then he shouldn’t be brow beaten to attend. Surely, the purpose of religious service of any brand is to encourage tolerance and respect for others. If mass is so important to the membership of Sinn Féin then they why have they not heard that message?

    Were some reason of state that he should attend it would be different but let it not be forgotten that we down south have quite a dark record in that regard – in particular the funeral of Douglas Hyde – albeit the 60 years ago.

  • 6countyprod

    Is this the same Stafford Carson from Portadown who refused to allow a female minister in his pulpit? I do not know if it was because she was female minister or a liberal that he denied her access to preach, but either way it was quite a controversy a couple of years ago.

    I wonder if Rev Carson would attend a Catholic service, especially when the ‘blasphemous mass’ was being celebrated? Maybe I’m thinking of a different evangelical minister who was at Edenderry Presbyterian church?!?

    Turgon you should know, you are from a PCI background, right?

  • Which part of the ministerial code did O’Dowd base his comments on?

  • lula

    ulsterfan, only just spotted your post. In essence you are right, but on some factual points you are incorrect:

    * De Valera was a member of Sinn Féin (and indeed the president at one time of it) but he was not a founder (the Sinn Féin Party was founded in 1905, de Valera joined in 1916)
    * Douglas Hyde received a state funeral
    * The “teaching” of the Roman Catholic Church at the time was that Catholics could not attend services of other faiths (in maybe the same way as Nelson McCausland faith precludes him today)

  • joeCanuck

    Is this the same Stafford Carson from Portadown who refused to allow a female minister in his pulpit?

    Did anyone mention a Catholic priest?

  • Maeglin

    This whole issue us bizzare. Attending a religious service is a matter of faith. Therefore it is personal and in a democratic country one must allow all to worship (or not worship) as they please – this freedom is absolutely fundamental and of some considerable constitutional vintage. How can sf not understand this basic principle?!?

    If is a matter if conscience and that must be respected. Can anyone seriously suggest a devout muslim gov minister should be forced to attend a religious service which is against his beliefs on pain of resignation?? Sometimes i seriously fear for the state of our democracy…

  • “de Velera was Sinn Feinn through and through and was indeed one of its founders.”

    Sinn Féin was founded in 1905, Dev didn’t join till at least late 1916. He didn’t join till more than 11 years after it was founded.

    Stop embarassing yourself!

    “Griffiths did not act alone”

    Indeed he did not, William Rooney also helped him set up the party.

    “Perhaps you can check if de Velera stood as a Parliamentary candidate for SF which might settle the matter.”

    I never said that Dev wasn’t a member, he’s a former President of the party ffs!

    What I have disputed is your lie that he was the founder.

    “He did indeed identify with FF but that was SF with an Armani suit and the guns put under the bed for another time if needed.”

    Firstly, Armani didn’t exist as a recognisable brand until the 60’s and given Dev’s isolationist policies I’m sure he wasn’t a fan.

    Dev parted company with Sinn Féin in 1926 after he lost a party vote and formed Fianna Fáil.

    Hyde died in 1949, 23 years after Dev parted company with Sinn Féin.

    Your knowledge of Irish history is appaling!

  • I wish that Sinn Féin would spend more effort on bringing about an Irish Language Act, which touches upon the common heritage of all in question, rather than in attempting to violate Mr McCausland’s conscience by forcing him to hear Mass.

    It seems to me that doing so would likewise violate the sanctity of the Church’s sacred worship, which should be a Eucharistic assembly of those who have freely chosen to participate.

  • frustrated Democrat


    Does this not cover it?

    (vi) operate in a way conducive to promoting good community relations and equality of treatment;

    Refusing in all circumstances to attend a Catholic Service is not equality of treatment of all of the people.

  • If we had a minister who was Atheist/Hindu/Muslim/Jewish I doubt that they would be subjected to this sort of criticism for not wishing to attend a Christian service and I cannot see how anyone would say that it is a breach of the code of office.

    Does Raymond McCartney want to make admission to public office dependent on giving his religious beliefs the credence that he thinks they deserve? Maybe he wants ministers to be obliged to adhere to a particular warm fuzzy ecumenical brand of Christianity in future.

  • Theologiggle

    “McCausland taught in a visiting capacity at the Independent Methodist bible college and his sermons are theologically very interesting.”

    Turgon, are you being serious? McCausland has no degree in either theology or religion, and has given some lectures on sabbatarianism at an unaccredited bible college, and this makes him a “highly rated theologian in his own right”? Utter nonsense, and an embarrassing drop in the standards of commentary on this blog. It’s like claiming that someone is a well-respected physicist on the basis that they attended a Stephen Hawking reading group at their local library.

    Second lapse: “It must be remembered that as fundamentalists hold to the priesthood of all believers, Nelson must follow how he feels the Holy Spirit leads him and is answerable to God for his own actions.” The second is entirely unrelated to the first, and all Reformed churches teach the priesthood of all believers. EVERY church teaches that every person is answerable to God for his or her own actions.

    Third lapse: The complete abuse of the term “fundamentalist”, which almost appears here as a synonym for “Reformed” or “Protestant”.

    This post is a low-point for Slugger. Please find a religion writer who can protect the site from these irritating lapses in theological knowledge. If you must write about a subject (any subject), please learn the rudiments of that discipline before peddling ignorance.

  • DC

    What a load of balls. Utter bullshit.

    I’m glad you’re living in Fermanagh and not Belfast, better for you out there, stay well away with all of this nonsense – thanks.


  • Coll Ciotach

    Totally support McCausland in this stance. What sort of totalitarianism that is going to force a man into an action which is contrary to his religious belief?

    Good man Nelson for standing up against the bigots

  • Henry Joy

    Hyde DID have a state funeral at St. Patrick’s C of I Cathedral, Dublin. De Valera did NOT attend either outside or inside. Only Noel Browne among the Cabinet attended inside, the others standing outside in accordance with a Roman Catholic Church prohibition on church members attending a service in a Protestant church. Dev was Leader of the Opposition at the time, not Taoiseach. Erskine Childers of Fianna Fail, Protestant, future Tanaiste and Cabinet Minister and later President DID attend inside, apparently (?) “representing” Dev. Rather farcical but there is it. Sad that so many members of the government and opposition didn’t have the courage to enter the Cathedral on a state occasion to honour the head of state. What did they think would happen to them ? Excommunication ? Hardly. Or am I wrong ? And what does Nelson McCausland think would happen to him in attending a Catholic service ? Thunderbolts from the Almighty ? Really. Progress in NI and R of I. Let’s move on for God’s sake and try some pluralism.

  • Danny O’Connor

    I can’t think of a good reason that would compel anyone to attend a religious service against their will and stongly held personal convictions.Whether I agree with those convictions ,or not ,does not matter,any person should be free to make their own decision on whether to attend or not.
    The question then becomes is there a conflict of interest between personal life and public life?
    Would the person attend a nativity play or a carol service if they were formally invited,or say an artistic performance of the Messiah if it was being held in a Catholic church.
    I know that public duty can sometimes mean you have to step outside your own comfort zone,I had the honour to be invited to a number of Protestant church services when I was mayor and I was proud to be able to attend,and you know what,I’m still a Catholic,my arms didn’t wither or my tongue didn’t stick to the roof of my mouth.

    Incidentally I notice that the British legion always have their services in Protestant churches,is this to facilitate rather than embarass members who are also in the orange order ?

  • igor

    Its somewhat rich to have representatives from the political wing of an organisation that caused so many Protestant (and Catholic) funeral services to be held to now adopt some (very sloping) moral high ground and be criticising someone for refusing to attend a service on personal religous grounds.

  • Turgon

    You do not like the fact that Nelson is highly regarded in fundamentalist evangelical circles? well I cannot change that but it is true. I was unaware that holding a degree in a subject was a prerequisite for significant expertise in a subject. It might be in say medicine but something which is purely an intellectual pursuit and not a practical one (like theology) does not require a degree. Indeed some noted experts in various fields have throughout the ages had little formal training in the subject. Still I as someone with very few qualifications will bow to your superior knowledge on that issue.

    The point about the priesthood of all believers is that Protestants are specifically not meant to follow what their minister says: they are meant to consider it and make a judgement. I would not pretend expertise on Catholicism but I understand that the relationship is a bit different.

    I have already explained the use of the term fundamentalist: I will use Protestant fundamentalist in future but it seems that my preceding usage of the term has not prevented people understanding the terms of the debate.

    I do not know what your post was about but try to address the subject.

    Yes it is the same Stafford Carson and the irony was not lost on me either. Maybe had a woman spoken at the mass it would have been unacceptable and if the Roman Catholic church ever have women priests clearly Dr. Carson may have problems with that.

    In Dr. Carson’s defence I think he would probably be willing to enter a church where a woman was preaching and attend the service. I think it is only that he will not allow a woman to preach in his church. Though since a Presbyterian minister is only the teaching elder, he has no right to stop her preaching as I understand it. I think it would be a decision of the Kirk Session of which he is only one member (of typically quite a number).

  • Rory Carr

    Good God! Protestants at Holy Mass! Well I never!

    Is there to be no end to these modern shenanigans? Next thing you know women will be running around wearing trousers and smoking cigarettes in public.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    The issue is surely not about the right and wrongs of Nelson’s conscience* but rather if someone with his type of conscience and one that operates in the way it does, should hold such an office – to which the answer is probably ‘NO’ as there is a clear conflict of interest betwen his personal and mimisterial roles. For him to hold this office and allowing this debate only does damage to his party, his religion and his ideology – which does not unduly concern me but the damage it does to the wider perception of Norn Iron is a concern.

    But that is the problem with those who make up the DUP. Someone who does not believe in climate change should not be anywhere near an envrionment portfolio and someone who does not believe in Darwinism should not be anyhere near a science or education brief – either now or in the future.

    Is it not a dreadful relfection on ordinary, decent, secular Prods that their party of choice is the DUP or perhaps it is a simple reflection on the extent that they have to turn to the DUP because they feel betrayed by the British state?

    Indicentally, does the Orange Order have anything to say on the subject of members entering a Catholic church?

    *I admire conviction politicans (I’m not referring here to those who spent time inside) but sometimnes there is a price to pay for these views and Nelson surely, should be prepared to pay that price.

  • DC

    Time to clean these bigoted relics out of the political system as we cannot address the challenges of the future through the prejudices of the past.

  • Neil


    Let me first of all say that I’ll be using English to explain my point. You won’t require me to sketch out definitions of the words I use, if there’s any confusion, check the English dictionary, you’ll find that over the years the philologists have done a fairly excellent job in nailing down almost every word conceivably necessary to communicate. As such the word ‘fundamentalist’ means fundamentalist, the word ‘theologian’ means theologian and so on.

    So, first up, Nelson may be an amateur theologian, your assertion that he is a highly rated theologian in his own right doesn’t really stack up. You may scorn the idea of degrees in the subject, however I’ve known some people who undertook the study of theology in Queen’s and they wouldn’t be considered highly rated theologians.

    Do you believe that theology is such a simple pursuit that some of your brightest people are amateurs? That almost exclusively, theology is a subject that lay people can be highly rated in that field, unlike in pretty much every single subject of study on earth? If I required an opinion from someone on any subject would I rather have a degree educated level of response? Or would I be able to go to the uneducated amateurs? You have admitted you could be wrong on this one so I’ll move on.

    Your bastardisation of the word fundamentalist is actually my main gripe. All too often exchanges on here degenerate into what people feel the word they are using might mean. However if you pick up a dictionary you’ll find there are roughly 250,000 words there ready for use, defined and all. You don’t need to apply your interpretation, if you and others can debate your points using the words we have and their recognised OED definitions then we can save all the weaseling and f***ing about trying to skew words to fit the argument your making.

    PS – I normally like to swear, but given the subject I feel I should censor myself.

  • Theologiggle

    Turgon, thanks for your reply. The question is: how does one become a ‘highly rated theologian’. I take your point that sometimes great thinkers do not have degrees (Samuel Johnson is a case in point), but not having a degree doesn’t make someone a great thinker either. So, how does one establish oneself as a highly rated theologian? I would say the same is true for disciplines like philosophy and also poetry: by a body of output that others in the field regard are important or significant. One does not become highly rated by merely having a view or shouting that view from pulpits or rooftops.

    So … what is the body of output you can give as evidence for your claim that Nelson McCausland is a highly regared theologian?

  • Couldn’t comment – should’nt

    on eo f the interesting things in a modern liberal society is how we treat our minorities.

    Nelson McCausland on this point is in a minority so will we defend his right to hold different views?

    Secondly since Nelson Mccausland has been very open and honest about his views why would anyone invite him to an event to which he clearly would not feel able to attend. it would be like inviting Sinn fein to an orange order event or the DUP to an Sinn Fein hunger strike memorial event – you don’t go out to deliberately create a circumctance where offence will be taken.

    Every individual in private and public life have the right to hold personal views, if private views impinge on public duty then the electotate has the right to remove the person.

    But believe me this so called controversay is not harming Nelson McCausland among his voters in Nth Belfast in fact it’s doing the reverse – so maybe he should thank Sinn Fein for the cheap electioneering

  • DC

    Well that then begs the question as to whether such representation at ministerial level is effective and relevant – ergo is McCausland a good minister to have given that Northern Ireland is a multi-identity region?

    I think the DUP may well be going against the grain of change which as a party they will either come out winners in the court of public opinion, or be ground into dust over time – if people view such stances as inappropriate and inadequate for an ever changing society slightly more at ease in its own skin.

  • I think it’s ridiculous that McCartney should be calling on Nelson McCausland to go to Mass – but it’s equally ridiculous for Nelson McCausland to make such a song and dance and story out of not attending Mass. He’s sharing government with murderers and criminals – he believes – so that’s surely enough to send him to Hell when the occasion arises. It’s a bit late to be worried now about his religious convictions.

    This is more of the sham fighting between SF and the DUP – they should get on with the job for which they were elected rather than constantly looking over their shoulders at the backwoodsmen and women who gave them their positions.

  • igor


    Are you being ironic or disingenuous?

    Because we have a ‘multi-identity region’ McCausland should be forced agsint his beliefs and sense of identity to attend a Mass??

    Now personally I have been to many Masses and indeed even ones in Latin. They do as much for me as a CoI service but I have gone to respect the rights and beliefs of those I was there to support (usually at a funeral!) However I do respect the beliefs of those who belive that they should not attend a Mass, Free P service, whatever.

    And as Concubhar has pointed out, all this nonsense is a great distraction from the real agenda ….which is SFs desperation for P&J to be devolved and the DUPs intention of holding out and treating them like a monkey on a stick.

    Politics!!!! Dontcha love it

  • Turgon

    Well he is highly regarded amongst Independent Methodists and many of these people know their bibles and theology backwards.

    To be absolutely honest I guess some of it is because I have seen one of the products of the Independent Methodist bible college intellectual and religious rings round a number of mainly Presbyterian ministers who tried to look down their noses at her qualifications. On that basis and the fact that she (and lots of Indie ministers) rate Nelson, so do I.

    A bit flimsy I will conceed but the lady in question also makes very good lasagne and has provided me with two lovely boys: yes I am very biased on this one.

    I refer you to the answer above.

  • DC

    “Because we have a ‘multi-identity region’ McCausland should be forced agsint his beliefs and sense of identity to attend a Mass??”

    No I’m not querying the multi-identity region – I’m querying if we have the right people to represent N Ireland.

    I fail to see this being an issue in Britain to which Unionist purport kinship etc.

    I’m also mindful of the salary this person is on and for the sake of leading for the region to sacrifice irrelevant moralism as in some of his past statements such concerns have been jettisoned.

    I remember a statement McCausland gave about loyalists driving a digger into a Catholic bar in North Belfast and him making excuses on the perpetrators’ behalf.

    A CALLER purporting to represent the Red Hand Defenders last night admitted resp-onsibility for an att-ack on a north Belfast bar.

    The pub was rammed by a stolen digger in what has been described as a “calculated at-tempt at mass murder”.

    The owners estimate that it will take more than £50,000 to repair the damage.

    However, DUP North Belfast assembly member Nelson McCausland said it was the bar itself that had been “a major source of contention in the area over many years”.

    “There have been many calls for the bar to be closed down because of the sectarian be-haviour of customers leaving it,” he said.

    He suggested that all access from the Crumlin Road (cur-rently restricted) should be closed and said that renewal of its entertainment licence is facing “strong opposition”.

    SDLP councillor Martin Mor-gan said the attack was “reck-less with intent to murder”.

    How very edifying Nelson – thou art truly my saviour.

  • kensei


    So just to clear up, what you actually mean is that your wife likes some of his sermons. Right, thanks for that.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    In any job situation the process of selection should ensure that the applicacnt can cary out the functions necessary to do the job properly – and in the absence of such a selection process – the DUP should ensure that they are not putting forward people who hold beliefs which effectively disqualify them from doing their jobs correctly – otherwise as they (allegedly) say in Oolster Scots the should be oxtered oot.

  • igor


    Ah yes ‘the right people’ who agree with your way of thinking?

  • kensei


    I agree but I can’t actually think of any situation whereby not going to Mass compromises Nelson’s ability to his job. On that basis, the SF motion is wrong.

    Various other parts of his beliefs may compromise aspects of his job, and he probably needs to steer clear any theological prouncements while in office.

  • O B E Ladin


    James Connolly took Holy Communion before he was martyred.

    Cut throat Tone was a suicide.

    Which of these examples do you subscribe to?

  • … he is highly regarded amongst Independent Methodists …

    Of whome there were precisely 1771 at the time of the last Census.

    So he’s “highly rated” amongst followers of a church that comprise about 0.1% of the population. What does that really mean?

  • willis


    If only you had said at the start that Nelson was highly rated by your missus you would have saved us a lot of time (and entertainment)

  • John East Belfast

    Sammy McNally

    Totally disagree with you inferences in your two posts above – essentially that any member of the public is allowed to hold exclusive religious views as per their own conscience but such people on the other hand are effectively not fit for Government because of such views.

    I know of a number of atheists who would hold all religious ceremonies in contempt and would be outraged that they would be forced against their own will to sit through one as many of them genuinely believe they are actually the cause of a lot of society’s troubles.

    In your eyes the only people who could cross over these institutions would be an agnostic – it is for the voters to decide who their Ministers are, not fashionable thinking.

    I think Garibaldy’s opening post sums it all up – Ministers should not be compelled to go to any religious service – it isnt the duty of any Minister to uphold the traditions of Religious Denominations.

    In addition those Denominations shouldnt want too much state interference as it gives them the freedom to have a different set of standards on morals than what the State currently affords.

    Keep the State and Church separate and they will both be better for it

  • DC

    “Ah yes ‘the right people’ who agree with your way of thinking?”

    Well I’ve tried to lay down some reasoning for it at least as I’m struggling to buy his own reasons for not wanting to attend.

    Simple – don’t take a post you can’t fulfill as the arguments put forward seem antagonistic and not realistic ones in today’s western European outlook. Not necessarily my ‘way of thinking’. Just a query after all. I’ll leave it hanging in the air – it’s all I can do.

  • kensei


    Totally disagree with you inferences in your two posts above – essentially that any member of the public is allowed to hold exclusive religious views as per their own conscience but such people on the other hand are effectively not fit for Government because of such views.

    Personal beliefs can certianly compromise your fitness for government. If you hold that all homosexual people are evil sinners and damned to hell, then what on Earth are you doing running a department that dishes out the funding for Gay Pride parades and ensuring equal access? Yes people amy where different hats but soemtimes you wind up with unresolvable conflicst of interest.

    No one should be compelled to attend any religious services but the various Churches are facts of life here and soem minsters may be required to work with them and deal with them fairly. If you had some unsavoury opinions regarding Jews, say, then its not hard to see how that could compromise you.

    Yes, firewall separation of Church and State. But that doesn’t imply that you can believe anything, proclaim it publicly and it won’t affect your fitness for government.

  • O B E,

    There is no contradiction between having a personal religious belief, or commiting suicide because you are going to be hung like a common criminal, and believing in a secular state. Fairly pointless attempt at point-scoring.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    the principle of conflict of interest applies in commercial matters – so I’m not sure why you think it should not apply in the case of personal Nelson’s beliefs?

    Are you not a little uneasy at Ministers holding briefs when they dont subscribe to the principles that underlie their portfolios?

    What about Sammy and the environment, or any DUP minster who wants to take over Education but thinks the boy Darwin is a quack? Any unease there?

    I know Unionists dont-do-Public-Relations but you must see the damage it does Norn Iron in having people in power who dont subscribe to 21st century ideologies.

  • Turgon

    Now once upon a time you said that was “Me out of your hair permenently” now all of a sudden you are back. I suppose expecting someone like you to be as good as your word is a bit much.

    I guess since you are back maybe you want to tell me about how you can say you condemn unreservedly all the murders committed by the loyalist and republican paramilitaries during the troubles?

    Incidentally since you want to be unpleasant let us state what no one has mentioned. It is utter and total hypocrisy for Sinn Fein to complain about Nelson not attending mass and one word explains that:


    Or maybe kensei you or some of the other cheerleaders want to tell us it was the catholic reaction force who murdered those people and not the IRA.

    Somehow refusing to attend mass pales into utter irrelevance beside being a supporter of the people who went into a church to murder people.

  • granni trixie

    Any rule regarding attendance at services may be OK in theory. In practice this is how it can work out:I spoke to a young man in the porch of a Catholic church. He wanted to attend a schoolfriend’s funeral but had been told by his Orange Lodge that to do so would result in him being put out the Lodge. Bear in mind that being wheelchair bound he had physical barriers to social life plus, having attended a “special school”, had other baggage eg lack of confidence in using initiative and mixing with a wide range of people. So rebelling to the rules of his lodge would have cost him dearly.His solution of attending in the porch of the church – crying – was so sad.

    So is it just me that thinks ‘why had someone in authority not said to him that it was OK to do what his instincts told him was right right? Why did they use the power of the rule over someone so vulnerable?. Where was compassion or even common sense in all of this?

    BTW, it was my son’s funeral he wanted to attend.

  • kensei


    Now once upon a time you said that was “Me out of your hair permenently” now all of a sudden you are back. I suppose expecting someone like you to be as good as your word is a bit much.

    I think you are missing the point here Turgie baby: I’m not debating you, I’m mocking you for a spectacularly stupid statement. Still no desire to play your stupid games. If you want to make assumptions based on that, and wave your wee rattle again and start name calling again, go right ahead. Not that I care, like, but its a neat insight into the pure psychosis of the mindset. By the by, what SF think has absolutely nothing to do with me.

    Guess what: I managed a whole paragraph and you are still out of my hair! Have a nice day.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    re. Darkley. I’m not sure what Darkley* (or De Valera) has to do with any of this. The GFA effectively drew a line under the conflict and we are now talking about the present and about the suitability of the current crop of ministers.

    If people dont like the GFA then they dont enter into government – the DUP have entered government and should therfore be fit for purpose – their own views on many issues, including this one, seem to disqualify them form doing their jobs properly.

    *That is not to seek to minimise that incident which was truly shocking and sectarian.

  • Turgon

    Running away again? Umnsurprising. You never did get over being pulled up for the Prods are Nazis analogy. Still wondering about your not answering the condemning terrorists question. I think everyone has already worked out the conclusions of that.

    Odd that you say SF has nothing to do with you when other times you tell us that SF is the party you support.

    Oh well keep running away from any question you do not like.

    Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit,
    Darkley has a great deal to do with it because Sfs military wing committed Darkley and for SF to say that someone not attening a religious service is unacceptable is appaling in the setting of SF’s military wing murdering people in church.

    For SF to try to accuse Nelson McCausland of hypocrisy is beyond parody

  • barnshee

    “The GFA effectively drew a line under the conflict and we are now talking about the present and about the suitability of the current crop of ministers”
    ER no the gfa TRIED to draw the afm line— failed -miserably when they tried to equate murderers with their victims. Those now drawing the queens shilling are really just holding the fort— hoping that it will fade away and those noisy people shouting “the emperor has no clothes” hopefully die out

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    you clearly and understandably do not like it and the Peace Process may not be fair but thats the way it is. The DUP have signed up to the GFA via the STA and taken their ministerial portfolios.

    The requirement on both the DUP and SF is to meet their ministerial repsonsilbities – and SF are perfectly correct to raise the issue of the DUP’s personal beliefs interfering with their ability to do the job IRRESPECTIVE of any deemed hypocrisy.

    Thems the rules.

  • kensei


    Running away again? Umnsurprising. You never did get over being pulled up for the Prods are Nazis analogy.

    Say what now? The normal complete missing of the point, assuming abscence of evidence = evidence and inability to separate pleb from “party member” or “is Gerry Adams” is all you know par for the course, but if you are going to throw down shit like that, then you at least have to back it up with a link because I’m pretty certain I’m being misquoted and have a dislike for being libelled.

  • Croppies Lie Down

    Not so long ago, there would have been no issue of Catholic ministers attending mass, for the simple reason that Catholics knew their place and were barred from having ideas above their station.
    Bring back the Orange state.

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘Darkley has a great deal to do with it because Sfs military wing committed Darkley’


  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Is there an Orange order rule prohibiting members from entering a Catholic Church – or being there during a service?

  • fair_deal


    The service

    “scrupulously avoid countenancing (by his presence or otherwise) any act of ceremony of Popish worship”

  • Turgon

    Let us see on one of my blogs on Eames Bradley we have your analogy. I remember it seemed pretty breath takingly stupid of you but you dug the hole:

    Post 1 here

    Since we are quoting you how about this one on whether or not you support the IRA terrorist campaign: “No, I’m not answering.”

  • John O’Connell

    How come when we get to talk about religion, it seems that we Norn Irish tends to try to out-evil each other?

    Is there an innate darkness in Norn Iron?

    You can take it therefore that you have been judged.

  • An Lorgain

    Is it not true that the Catholic reaction force was a cover name used by the INLA?

  • kensei


    Let us see on one of my blogs on Eames Bradley we have your analogy. I remember it seemed pretty breath takingly stupid of you but you dug the hole:

    Ah. I didn’t actually compare Prods to Nazis, but used WW2 as an example discussing an entirely separate point. To be clear I didn’t say whaty you are saying, and don’t put words in my mouth thankyouverymuch.

    Since we are quoting you how about this one on whether or not you support the IRA terrorist campaign: “No, I’m not answering.”

    Yup, not because I necessarily have any compulsion about condeming them, but because I refuse to play stupid games where this is somekind of weird right of entry to debate. This site is open to everyone, and if someone haoppens to support the IRA or UDA or Pol Pot it is irrelevant to the arguments they are making except in very narow circumstances. You may despise them for it or find it unsavoury or refuse to speak to them as is your wont. But squawking the question repeatedly in attempt to deflect and shutdown debate is manplaying, childish and nothing more. So I’m not playing, Turgie. I don’t fancy you’ll wise up anytime soon, so debating with you is a deadend.

    I know your wee brain can’t handle that I simply did not express an opinion either way and thus defaulted to if you’re not with us, you’re agin us but actually, you can’t assume that. Continue going mental. I do not care. For future reference, if you need debate this circle again, you now have this thread. Trying studying it until it sinks in.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    surely the stuff about Methodism is irrelevant, if, as fair_deal points outs (see below), he has voluntarily joined a political organsiation – the OO – that prevents him from being in a church when there is a Popish* service going on.

    *Just sooo 17th century.


    re. The service -“scrupulously avoid countenancing (by his presence or otherwise) any act of ceremony of Popish worship”

    thanks for that.

  • kensei watch

    …”This site is open to everyone, and if someone haoppens to support the IRA or UDA or Pol Pot it is irrelevant to the arguments they are making except in very narow circumstances….”

    Have you actually read that back?? You have got to be one of the most verbose, onanistic eejits on here….but great entertainment in fairness.

  • John East Belfast

    The other important matter here of course is Protestants are forbidden by the Catholic hierarchy from taking Mass.
    I was at a Mass for a funeral once where the Priest reminded everyone that it was for only Catholics – some Catholics apologised to me afterwards but there was no need as I didnt mind.

    However the issue is that some people want to force Protestants into a Catholic ceremony so they can be publicly insulted ?

    I think (as usual) the RC Church needs to put its own house in order first. However in fairness to them it is not them making a noise about this but SF for some strange reason – most of whom dont adhere to the teachings of the RC Church anyway.

    Kensei, Sammy

    On a general note you dont seem to be appreciating that the Church’s are “beyond the law” on a whole range of issues.

    There is no other employer in the country that could discriminate against someone on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender or religious denomination – but that is rife in all the Churches.

    I am not arguing for one minute that religions should not have their moral code but once they go down that route then they will have people approaching them with their own version of that code – and quite right too.

    But as I said the Churches arent complaining and somehow I think the RC Church will get over not having to tell Nelson McCausland he cant take Mass.

  • Turgon

    Yes you have been trying to spin your way out of the Prods were Nazis analogy for a while. Unfortunately for you it does not seem to work.

    The fact that you regard support for the IRA as irrelevant except in very narrow circumstances is breath taking and says a great deal about your attitude.

    It is actually of course very relevant: support for a sectarian terrorist organsiation which murdered almost 2000 people in Northern Ireland is relevant. The fact that you repeatedly fail to condmen them is also relevant.

    The fact that you will not condmen them and then say that their actions are irrelevant “except in very narrow circumstances” says a great deal about you: a cheerleader for terrorists you are and a cheerleader you remain. That is the context in which your views will be seen. I suppose you should be thanked for not pretending anything else or at least being so utterly incompetent at hiding your cheerleading that it comes out so easily.

    As to debating with me being a dead end: yes that is because you seem to be incapable of winning any argument. I expect you to come back again soon.

  • Coll Ciotach


    cannot take Mass – I have yet to know anyone who can take Mass unless you mean celebrate Mass.

    Anyone can attend Mass – perhaps you mean take communion?

  • Theologigle

    Ok thanks Turgon. So being a highly rated theologian means your wife like’s Nelson’s sermons. Good to be clear about that. Since you mentioned an independent methodist bible college, perhaps you would tell us which one you mean (a link?) so we can have a look at this centre of theological excellence?

  • Turgon

    No link because it has now closed

  • John East Belfast


    Yes, sorry that is what I meant.

    But the point remains – should Nelson McCausland be forced into something so that when he goes to the front of the altar he is chased back to his seat by the Priest with his tail between his legs.

    Is this what people are arguing for ?

  • Thereyouarenow

    I am religiously anti-religion and I do not care if anyone joins me in my beliefs.

    When I die I am going into the unknown. Whether I like it or not some day I will be leaving. It may be better to keep an open mind, what about if my beliefs are wrong.

    I am still sticking with the one at the start of this post though.

  • Rory Carr

    What’s all this about the Nazis being Prods? I mean I know the Nazis were pretty bad and all that but still….

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    Many papists, as the OO might refer to them, attend mass but do not partake of communion as it is not a mandatory part of the ceremony – Nelson could therefore attend quite comfortably.

    Nelson it transpires cannot attend for two reason, firstly becasuse his beliefs prevent him and secondly because he voluntarily joined the OO – a deeply-sectarian-political-pan-Protestant-organisation so the debate about what brand of Methodism he belongs to is irrelavnt.

    He has opted for political reasons for sectarianism (parlty presumably to be elected) and if he cant perform his duties because of that decision (or his personal beliefs) then SF are quite right to point that out.

  • ulsterfan

    I hope Nelson is following this debate.
    If so he must be having a quiet laugh to himself to see these Republicans getting their knickers in a twist over nothing at all.
    My advice to Nelson is simple. Act according to your conscience and be charitable to those who unjustly criticise your stance.
    You have the support of many people.
    Get on with life and uphold the principles of protestantism of which I think you are proud and the evangelical viewpoint.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    re. Advice to Nelson,

    My advice to Nelson is simple. Act according to your conscience and be charitable to those who unjustly criticise your stance.
    You have the support of many people.
    Get on with life and uphold the principles of protestantism of which I think you are proud and the evangelical viewpoint.

    …and lastly and most importantly dont mix your religion with your politics.

  • Coll Ciotach


    Catholics are obliged to take communication once a year. Nelson would not be forced to do anything at Mass which would embarrass him except for the ridiculous innovation of the hand shake also known as the sign of peace. (thank the Lord for swine flu)

    So I think your ignorance of what the Mass is and what happens at Mass colours your postings, which is understandable I suppose.

    However I stick to my point that those who do not facilitate Nelson in his exercise of conscience are the real bigots here, using the mans religious beliefs as a political weapon is disgusting. If this is what you are reduced to to attack the man politically you should wrap up the tent and go home. I do not accept his stance on this renders his position untenable.

  • ulsterfan

    The Shinners are alone on this issue with no apparent support outside their party.
    If they feel so strongly why did they not bring a motion of no confidence.
    The reason is simple.It would fail miserably.
    I think the rest of us should leave the matter there and allow them to talk to themselves.

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    Persoanlly, I find it hard to understand why fundamentalist prods have such problem entering a catholic church. but then I;m an athiest lol. That said, if that’s their religeous outlook then fair enough. However, I would expect such politians to reach out the hand of friendship to other ways – for example, to visit the family’s home etc.

  • scoop


    This press release just in from DCAL –

    19 October 2009 – McCausland meets with delegation from POBAL and Irish Language community

    The Minister said:

    “I believe that the people of Northern Ireland support the aspiration of a shared and better future and that such a future must be based on the principles of EQUALITY, diversity and interdependence.”

    Somebody square that circle?

  • John East Belfast


    Are you saying it is ok for the RC Church, because of their religious beliefs, to stop McCausland celebrating Mass in a chapel because he is a Protestant but it is wrong of McCausland to not enter into a Chapel because of his religious beliefs as a Protestant.

    Are you damning them equally ?

    If not stop flogging another dead horse in addition to your ongoing OO nag that has been flayed to the bone.


    I do confess to my ignorance but

    “Nelson would not be forced to do anything at Mass which would embarrass him..”

    What if he went up to the Altar though – that would be a bit of a laugh wouldnt you say. Who would be intolerant then ?

    If I were Nelson I would go to the next Mass and do just that and see what happens – I wonder what McCartney would say then ?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    re “Persoanlly, I find it hard to understand why fundamentalist prods have such problem entering a catholic church”

    What’s difficult to understand? Many Prods, fundamentalist and otherwise, join a sectarian organisation the Orange Order – and one of its rules is not to go into a Catholic Church whilst papish rituals are going on. They join it becasue they like that kind of stuff – apparently it’s a culturual thing. Simples – shocking, apalling sectarian stuff but still simples.

  • ulsterfan

    The OO is not anti catholic.
    It is pro Reformation and by definition it does at times oppose some teaching of the Catholic Church.
    In the same way the Catholic Church is Anti Protestant because it believes it and it alone is the true Church all others being steeped in heresy.
    Perhaps you could think of the counter Reformation and Inquisition to fully understand the position of both.
    Does this make both organisations sectarian and bigoted?

  • Thereyouarenow

    One things for sure religion certainly uses (wastes ? ?) a lot of energy.

    There will be a lot of people extremely embarassed if they backed the wrong God or if there is no God when they die.

    I on the other hand will just say that I did not have enough information and will blame the supreme beings information channels.
    That defence should work should’nt it.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    The OO is not anti catholic?

    Why do they organise sectarian marches?

    Can you point to any non Unionist who share this strange view?

    Many ordinary decent secular Prods are deeply embarassed by their behaviour and the behaviour of those that they attract. Why do you think that is?

    Why do they stop their members going into Cathoilc churches.

    Get a fecking grip on your Union Jack knickers for fecks sake – I suppose you will be telling me next the pope himself is not a papish.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    …and for some more amusing reality denial – tune in to Question time on Thursady where we will no doubt hear that the BNP are not racist.

  • RepublicanStones

    Isn’t there something about marrying a catholic with the OO?

  • John East Belfast


    Any Protestant will tell you they are not anti catholic – they are anti the Catholic Religion. They will tell you they are more Pro Protestant than anti Catholic. We would be all better off if both sides were more Pro Christian.

    Anyhow just because you oppose someone’s beliefs doesnt mean you oppose the person.

    pretty basic stuff and I am surprised that I am having to point such a thing out to you on Slugger.

    Infact if Catholicism doesnt allow Protestants to celebrate Mass does that mean they are anti Protestant ?
    No it just means that to take Communion in Catholic Churches you have to believe certain things – Transubstantiation I believe it is called where the wine and bread actually become the blood and body of Jesus – once again Coll you can tell me if I am mistaken – but such a notion horrifies practicing Protestants. However i assume that horror/disbelief is why Catholicism doesnt want them to take Communion.

    Either way you are going nowhere trying to equate McCausland’s stance on this with sectarianism.

  • John East Belfast

    Republican Stones

    “Isn’t there something about marrying a catholic with the OO?”

    LOL – I suppose you havent heard of the Ne Temere either !

    Catholics trying to hammer Prods on religious intolerance – PLEASE !!

  • Turgon, as a matter of interest, I’m not sure it’s possible for there to be a Catholic fundamentalist if by fundamentalist we mean return to an infallible sacred text etc.

    I’m no theologian but I would think that the Bible isn’t sovereign as such for Catholics, without mediation through the Pope, Church fathers etc. So no directly personal relationship to the text is possible if one is to be Catholic. Unless the fundamental one is returning to is the Bible plus a couple of millenia of Bulls, letters, decrees and the like. So being a Catholic fundamentalist would be a bit like being a British constitutionalist: possible but very hard work indeed.

  • Thereyouarenow

    This God (or is that gods ?) is a lazy so and so.

    He could quite easily tell Nelson and the rest of us the correct course of action but for some reason he cannot be bothered.

    He does not even go “hot” when we are on the right track. Mind you that could be mis-understood. Nor does he go “cold” when we are wrong.

    Has he got some kind of personality dis-order or some-what.

    God get your finger out and by the way whats your view on quantitive easing (It sounds like something you might come up with in a crisis)

  • rapunsel

    Right lot of shit on this thread.

    I’m an atheist myself from a catholic background but you know what my work has taken me right across this country and meetings and relationships with all sorts of people. My thinking is that I expect our ministers not to close their minds to future possibilities. I for one would not rule out attending a religious service in any church here if I needed to through work or personal relationships no matter about my own views on the misguided nature of their religion.

    Nelson is being offensive . Look at the circumstances in which he might consider atending a service in a chapel. What about the death of a civil servant working closely with him in his department for one?

    Very depressing

  • igor

    The OO opposes Roman Catholic doctrine and debars its members from attending Mass …therefore it is evil and to be despised

    The Catholic Church opposes Protestant doctrine and debars heretic Proddies from Mass (in theory anyway) but that is OK

    Discuss in the context of the Council of Trent 1559

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    re. “Anyhow just because you oppose someone’s beliefs doesnt mean you oppose the person.”

    So let me get this straight – lets say I thought the Jewish religion was a complete load of old tosh and that they were responsible for killing Jesus Christ and I formed an organisation which liked to point out how bad the Jewish religion was and also to tell everybody who would listen to me that their religious leader was a bad dog and perhaps in league with the devil and lest just say I knew that if I organised a march through a Jewish area I would attract a large crowd of often drunken personages who liked to shout anti-jewish slogans and talk about a battle in which the Jews had a damn good thrashing and liked to spend days collecting stuff to have a great fire to burn the leader of the Jewish faith atop.

    Lets just picture all this and then lets say as the march proceeded through the Jewish area a Jew approached my parade and asked me why I was insulting his religion and his people with repeated displays of anti-Jewishness?

    How impressed do you think he might be if I told him – “Ah, but you have it wrong there my good man I have nothing against you and those of you who follow that despicable creed but rather the despicable creed itself – and by the way why don’t you stand out on the street and cheer us on as your grandfather always did”?

  • DC

    My advice to Nelson: I hope you can carry that heavy cross of crass moralism.

    What a divisive little bearded character.

    Time to clean out these relics once and for all.

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘LOL – I suppose you havent heard of the Ne Temere either’

    So the OO lets their members marry catholics but seeks to encourage the children to be brought up in the protestant faith? Have I got that right JEB?

  • Coll Ciotach


    If he went up onto the altar I would presume the same would happen to him that would happen to me. Again your lack of knowledge of Catholicism and the Mass which is making you look silly.