Head of Outreach Ministries International Bishop Juan Edghill says while he believes people with alternative sexual orientations should not have their rights taken away, as a religious leader he must maintain that such lifestyles, according to “biblical texts,” are not in accordance with God’s standards.
Edghill, also Minister within the Ministry of Finance, stated his position on Sunday morning on during a discourse on the issue of rights for Guyana’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community on Hard Talk, a radio programme aired on 90.1FM.
Edghill was a guest speaker on the show along with Pandit Rabindranath Persaud. He preceded his statements by indicating that they were inspired by his conviction and position as a religious leader and would not be made in his capacity as a minister of government.
Edghill reiterated this position yesterday when asked by Stabroek News if he is concerned that his statements, due to his public portfolio, might be interpreted as the position of government.
He believes his comments could not and should not be interpreted as government’s position, since the Donald Ramotar administration has not adopted an official position on the matter.
During the programme, Edghill said, “We believe marriage and relationships should exist between a man and wife in the confines of marriage. There are people who believe differently.” He went on to say that “from the Christian perspective… all men should be treated equally. I believe gays and lesbians should have access to housing, should have access to health care, should be educated, should be employed, should be treated like any other Guyanese. Their rights should not be taken away from them or they shouldn’t be discriminated against because of their lifestyle.”
He nevertheless maintained that such lifestyles are not in accordance with biblical teaching. “Frankly, the bible don’t change to suit people, it is people who are expected to change to come up to the standard of the word of God… and that’s not something that we will compromise on.”
When contacted yesterday, Edghill said the position he shared on Sunday is the same he has held publicly for around 14 years. Again, he said that while he agrees with equality for the LGBT community in the above-mentioned regards, he will stand by the bible’s teachings on homosexuality.
Where same-sex marriage and adoption of children by such persons are concerned, he posited, the bible speaks against it.
Edghill, in his interview with this newspaper, also rebuked those who criticise persons for voicing their convictions against LGBT lifestyles. “The problem,” Edghill say, “is the gay agenda. Nobody must touch it. It is a sacred cow,” he continued.
He also said he knows the LGBT community in Guyana has contacts in the local and international media, and he knows for a “fact that a lot of media operatives (in Guyana) support the gay agenda.”
Edghill also pronounced on the statements made by Pastor Ron McGarrell on the same programme two Sundays ago.
McGarrell, Vice Chairman of the Inter-Religious Organisation and a former board member of the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association (GRPA), resigned from the latter last week following reactions to statements he made.
Offering what he later described as a “light hearted joke,” the pastor said that homosexuals and others who have alternative lifestyles can incur the wrath of God, and suggested that such persons reside on an island by themselves so as to not endanger others who do not share such lifestyle when/if God visits his wrath upon them.
The pastor’s statements provoked a hailstorm of criticism which eventually saw him resigning his position with GRPA.
On Sunday, Edghill said he believes McGarrell’s statements, carried by various sections of the media, were taken out of context.
He offered that while the words McGarrell used were not the best, they were well intended and never meant to promote “inequality, hate rejection or prejudice against persons who practice alternative lifestyles.” Still, Edghill reminded that as religious leaders, he and McGarrell represent that position.
“Our sacred text says these things attract the wrath of God… God hates sin in any form. He loves the sinner but hates the sin… Pastor McGarrell is saying if you’re not concerned about the wrath of God, well, please go in a place that when the wrath of God is coming down we…, who believe different are not affected.”
The Pandit also said that he did not know McGarrell to be a man to condemn any group. He believes, “Pastor McGarrell meant to tell people that if they wanted to live that lifestyle then they should create an environment where they can do so and where it would not affect the rest of society who are not in agreement.”