… a very uninviting place for Bible believers

You may be surprised that the Rev David McIlveen (Sandown Free Presbyterian church) wasn’t referring to Belfast Pride when he spoke the words in this post’s title, but was instead referring to an institution of the state whose membership includes a Presbyterian minister (who is also free – though in the retired sense).

While this morning’s Irish News carried the story of Jim Well’s ‘repugnant’ text, the News Letter confirmed what I half expected when I posted last Wednesday:

This year only one group has registered a protest with the Parades Commission. So unless the normal protest from Sandown Free Presbyterian has merged in with the Stop the Parade Coalition, they must be staying at home on the afternoon of Saturday 30 July this year. (Or else planning to protest illegally!)

While the Parades Commission state that “a non-notified protest is illegal”, Sandown Free Presbyterian church is planning to go ahead with its protest at Saturday’s Belfast Pride Parade. Rev McIlveen explained to Tuesday’s News Letter why he had lost confidence in the Parades Commission:

We officially registered with the Parades Commission last year but when the adjudication was made the chairperson, in our view, expressed a biased position in terms of the gay pride parade saying it was a great asset to the city of Belfast. We felt out position was just totally ignored.

We therefore feel it’s no longer profitable to go to the Parades Commission and that it’s a very uninviting place for Bible believers. I’ve communicated that to the commission.

The church hold an open air witness in front of the City Hall each Friday lunchtime which doesn’t require permission from the commission. You could argue it’s a form of protest against disbelief in a reformed faith. McIlveen calls it “a gospel witness against sodomy” in the News Letter.

However, on Saturday afternoon Sandown Free Presbyterian won’t be at their normal City Hall gate spot, but will instead be outside St Anne’s Cathedral. The Lord Mayor Niall Ó Donnghaile plans to greet the parade in front of the City Hall … which may have prompted the church’s shift of location.

In January 2011, a completely new set of commissioners sat down around the Parades Commission table, having been appointed by the Secretary of State a few weeks before. Last year’s chairperson is no longer there. With such a significant turnover of personnel, unless the church feel that the structure is institutionally uninviting, it’s difficult to understand why they’d not want to argue their case in front of the new commissioners.

While the Parades Commission may be ‘a very uninviting place for Bible believers’, Belfast Pride events aren’t in the same category. Rev McIlveen is advertised as participating on the Hymn or Us? debate on whether LGBT and Christianity can co-exist, in the Europa Hotel (Glengall Street entrance) on Thursday 28 at 7.30pm. Other panellists include Rev Chris Hudson (All Souls’ Non-Subscribing Presbyterian) and Dr Mike Davidson (Core Issue). The event will Chaired by William Crawley. £2 (in advance), £3 (on door). Now free. Update – Rev McIlveen pulled out of the event and didn’t attend.

Saturday’s act of civil disobedience – at which the PSNI could gather evidence and forward onto the DPP – seems of character, though not unheard-of: a religious group deliberately violating the state’s wishes.

Coincidentally, speaking at the New Horizon Christian conference in Coleraine last Friday morning, the ex-PCI moderator Trevor Morrow outlined his six rules that should guide any collective civil disobedience by Christians. He was speaking in the context of what to do if the state – specifically European legislation – was to cross the line and encroach into church affairs such as education and appointments.

1. Assemble together to pray for obedience.

2. Tangibly demonstrate to those in authority that faith matters.

3. Engage in a reasonable defence – find a point of context/consensus from which to reason.

4. Use strategic persuaders to influence – eg, media or political commentators whose voice is listened to.

5. Practice amazing grace – not a belligerent defence or defiance of the state.

6. Whatever the state says, just keep on living and acting in obedience to Jesus Christ, communicating the truth.

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  • pauluk

    Another posts about the Free P’s, the DUP and gays!

    How can a group that boasts only 1% of the population (homosexuals, that is) have such influence on Slugger?

  • It’s the story that keeps on giving! And a follow-up to my post last week.

    If there are 500 members, Sandown Free Presbyterian is around 0.03% of NI population.

    And the Parades Commission is 0.0004% of Ni population.

  • babyface finlayson

    The post seems fairly neutral to me. You may as well ask how the Free Ps have so much influence on Slugger.

  • pauluk

    Babyface, the posts, for the most part, if not all of them, are subtle, and some not so subtle, attacks on the right of Free P’s, DUP members and other Christians – and there are tens of thousands of them in NI – to hold an opinion which does not condone homosexual behaviour.

    The Bible is very clear in naming homosexual activity as sin. No better or worse than, for example, stealing, adultery, drunkenness or idolatry, but sin nonetheless. That is why Christians who respect the Bible cannot accept it a normal behaviour.

    But intolerant liberals do not wish to allow such freedom of conscience or be accountable to a higher power or standard. They wish to force their own world view on others, hence the plethora of supposedly pro-gay posts. In fact, it just an excuse for some more Bible bashing and a cynical exploitation of the homosexual community.

  • babyface finlayson

    I see no-one attacking peoples right to hold an opinion on homosexuality, or any other behaviour.
    Can you not see that forcing ones world view on others is exactly what evangelical Christians do.
    If someone was unaware of a bomb about to go off nearby, you might use every means possible , even violence to drag them to safety. That is how Christians view their interventions towards unbelievers. Please correct me if I am wrong.

  • “The Lord Mayor Niall Ó Donnghaile plans to greet the parade in front of the City Hall … which may have prompted the church’s shift of location.”

    Actually, outside St Anne’s Cathedral is the traditional space for Mr McIlveen’s prayer meeting for Belfast Pride.

    The space outside City Hall is usually taken up by another, separate protest group, the Stop the Parade Coalition, who have notified the Parades Commission of their intention to protest. .

  • Drumlins Rock


    What is the parades legislation in Donegal?

  • nightrider

    Rev David McIlveen (no dodgy doctorate yet??), he of the stop Ozzy Osbourne corrupting East Belfast campaign-and many others- is a genuine loony tourist trap. He should be given the status of those at speakers corner in Hyde Park.
    Love these nutters and their prodigy who help sell ‘Ulster’ as a sort of Amish sideshow.
    Are they allowed to watch hotel room “premium rate” videos on the Sabbath in (heathen) London?

  • wild turkey

    Revs McIveens comments are most interesting, and given the recent state of affairs in europe, especially ireland and norway, most apposite

    let us parse, shall we?

    “We officially registered with the Parades Commission last year but when the adjudication was made the chairperson, in our view, ( ie he was not one of us)
    expressed a biased position ( he not only disagreed with our viewpoint, he articulated a viewpoint of his own)
    in terms of the gay pride parade saying it was a great asset to the city of Belfast.

    We felt out position was just totally ignored.( we did not get our way way)
    We therefore feel it’s no longer profitable to go to the Parades Commission ( and we will hold our breathes until we die) and that it’s a very uninviting place for Bible believers. ( and when we die from holding our breathes because you haven’t agreed with us. And God) I’ve communicated that to the commission. (any blowback is strictly and solely your fault for ignoring us by not agreeing with us)

    well, any comments of mine on the Rev McIveens statement would probably contravene Godwins Law. So let us not go there.

    but in terms of the mere myopia of bigotry, entitlement of the righteous and subsequent lack of any, any, empathy towards fellow humans, evidenced by the reverends remarks i hestiate to further comment.

    there is a new law, or lawlessness, on the horizon… and it is far more serious than Godwins Law. It is the Anders Behring Breivik Law .

    question to the good reverend mcilveen and his followers: in pursuit of the purity of your beliefs, would you follow; would you preach , would you practice, the law according to Anders Behring Breivik ?

    If not, why not? the level of intolerance in both cases appears to be somewhat similar

  • nightrider

    Islam and Christianity, as creation myths, seem to be on a race to the bottom as to which is more intolerant. Blowing Classical Greece and Norway aside, their purpose appears to be petty and tyrannical. Anders was just a blowhole, sad to see innocent victims as the ‘higher powers’ edifice falls to pieces.

  • ben_w

    It’s true. The real world is a very uninviting place for Bible believers.

  • The Bush Ranger

    Context is always a great tool to have. The bible states that “a man must not lie with another man or animal” however the context being that these are guidelines for their religious leaders rather than the population as a whole.

    I don’t recall Jesus having too many thoughts on homosexuality but I am open to correction.

    As is typical though with “believers” they pick and choose the bits and pieces they like and conveniently forget the parts they don’t like.

  • andnowwhat

    Why should it be wrong to refuse the Free P’s the right to say vile things about people that science says, are perfectly natural?

    They have no right to do that. Well, they shouldn’t have.

    I am a firm believer in religion, I’m religious myself, but what I believe is between myself and God and how I exercise my beliefs is in trying to be good to others. I am totally with France on keeping religion out of society. It has no basis in evidential fact and thus has no place in modern society other than in the heats of believers for whom it is a serious matter but a private one none the less

  • Nunoftheabove


    Quite so; if the likes of Mr McIlveen finds the world he actually lives in in any respect uninviting, tough/undesirable to integrate with and impossible to make rational sense of, then he’d do well to review his choice of reading material. It’d do his and his followers’ mental health and wellbeing no harm at all to bear in mind that there’s scarcely a word of truth in it, still less a coherent, ethically sound and/or morally defensible framework within it worth living by. The latter of course remains the case whether one accepts all or any of the truth of it or not.

  • pauluk

    Bush Ranger,

    Jesus Christ never mentioned bestiality and paedophilia. By your warped logic, you suggest that He would have no problem with those activities either.


    Why should it be wrong to refuse the Free P’s the right to say vile things about people that science says, are perfectly natural?

    1 I haven`t seen or heard Free P`s say vile things about anyone. Jim Wells – who may be a Free P, I don`t know – is reported, by a Slugger blogger, to have said something which he evidently did not say, so don`t go believing everything you read on Slugger.

    2 `Science` has never said that homosexuality is perfectly natural. The only homosexual gene they have found is the Bishop of New Hampshire.

  • In the end, Rev McIlveen pulled out of the event and didn’t attend.

  • Los Lobos

    Has Trevor Morrow converted to Catholicism? His six point plan seems in sink with the recent antics of that faith, especially rule number 6!

  • lamhdearg

    test, sorry chaps and ladies

  • nightrider

    A pity no DUP politico could have made an effort. maybe even an MP. But -as we seen- Paul Berry was not smart enough to cover his tracks- so to speak-.Far right party politicians do make a point of avoiding these things openly. Like Martin Webster of the NF in the 70’s, certain DUP members seem to be protesting too much.

  • lamhdearg

    Please do not use the norway rocket, as a beacon of right wing christian anti gay bigotry, he was/is pro gay.

  • nightrider

    1 example:


    But I could go on….

    They all come out in the wash my dear old granny used to say.

  • nightrider
  • A few verses of God’s word that the righteous will not be too pleased about despite thinking of themselves as a Bible Believers

    John 3:17 unless they feels that Christ did not come to condemn, because he knew that there would come Christians who would do all the condemning sort of thing for him

    Matthew 7(KJV)
    1Judge not, that ye be not judged.

    2For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

    3And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

    4Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

    5Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

    Jude 1:7(KJV)
    Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

    I know, you will read that and think, on the contrary they will like that verse,!


    I have seen this verse hoisted on a placard by the other protest, the stop the parade coalition outside the city hall and I can email anyone a picture of it, except its not the whole verse. the word ” Fornication ” is removed. The word is replaced by a series of dots. Christ spoke about ‘Fornication’ when He was speaking about divorce. Fornication is not a gay sin, it is a heterosexual sin. Wooops were there heterosexuals in Sodom? Yes. But the Bible believers are content to have you believe that it was destroyed because of homosexuality, and as all the men on the city from the youngest to the eldest surrounded Lots house, they must have been all gay. Sodom had a king but there is no mention of the king at Lot’s house. anyway, Fornication, unmarried heterosexual sex is the first sin of Sodom mentioned in this verse, and if ‘sodomites’ are those who continue in the sins of Sodom, then there are many heterosexual sodomites in Norn Iron who have never had sex with the same sex, but who have had unmarried sex with the opposite sex. Bible believers seem to be happy that this be ignored.

    Matthew 6:5 (KJV)
    And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

    Romans 3:10(KJV)
    There is none righteous, no, not one:

    Romans 3:23 (KJV)
    For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

    So on Saturday in Belfast (assuming that the Bible is true in Romans Chapter 3) there will be 2 Protest groups, made up of unrighteous / sinners complaining about another group of unrighteous / sinners the nature of the protest , you guessed it, unrighteousness / sins

  • pauluk

    Just in case anyone is wondering, Pete Baker gave me a yellow card for pointing out that recently released NASA data has virtually demolished the case for anthropological global warming. He didn’t seem to like that.