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Priest suspended for preaching against gay marriage

After being banned for urging church-goers to sign anti-gay marriage petition, Peter Gowlland says 'It is disappointing some people are so narrow-minded’
After urging church-goers to sign anti-gay marriage petition, Peter Gowlland of All Saint's Church in Sanderstead, Surrey, says 'It is disappointing some people are so narrow-minded’
Photo by Nigel Freeman.

An Anglican priest was suspended for preaching against gay marriage yesterday (4 April), when he asked his congregation to sign a petition opposing UK government plans.

The 78-year-old Peter Gowlland invited the worshippers at All Saints Church in Sanderstead, Surrey, to be ‘bold like the apostles’ and sign the anti-civil gay marriage petition.

As Gowlland shared his views last month about the redefinition of marriage, British newspaper The Telegraph reports two church-goers stood up and advised the parishioners to not sign the petition.

The two women, a retired bishop and the visiting Worldwide President of the Mother’s Union, told the church ‘there are other views’.

The Archdeacon has now barred Gowlland from preaching for two months.

Gowlland was accused by the Archdeacon as being political in a religious service, and for bringing up the controversial issue without consulting the other preachers. He said this led to a ‘regrettable’ disunity of the church.

Gowlland said in a statement: ‘People get suspended for the usual vicar and choirboy sort of thing but I’ve never heard of anyone being suspended because people don’t like what you said or the way you said it.

‘That’s the point of being a preacher, you preach what you think God wants you to say, the congregation don’t have to agree with you.’

He added: ‘It is disappointing that some people are so narrow-minded.’

While the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York have opposed government plans to legalise gay marriage, senior religious leaders in the Church of England have shown their support.

Last month several bishops, vicars and priests wrote a letter to The Times saying the Church of England has ‘nothing to fear’ from gay marriage, and should ‘be a cause for rejoicing’.  

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