New South Wales Anglican priest Father Rod Bower has been heckled on camera for his contribution to the religion freedom debate.
The outspoken priest’s signs are well-known throughout Australia for his uncompromising messages on social issues and politics.
Appearing on ABC’s 7.30 program on Wednesday night, Fr Bower was filmed replacing his recent church sign reading “LGBT Friends, Israel Folau is wrong, don’t listen to him.”
His new message reads, “True religious freedom is the freedom not to discriminate.”
But as ABC were filming Fr Bower working on the sign, a woman walking by the Gosford Anglican Church on New South Wales’ central coast heckled him.
“God hates hypocrites. He said homosexuals will burn, and adulterers,” she said.
“Read your commandments, read it in the Bible. You’re a hypocrite.”
As a result of his signs, Bower said hecklers often targeted him outside his church.
“[The female heckler] was saying Folau was right that the Bible says homosexuals are going to burn,” he said.
“My question to her was, ‘Tell me where, tell me where it actually says that.’
“It doesn’t say it anywhere.”
Explaining the new sign, Fr Bower tweeted: “It is important to remember that those who live lives of privilege will always experience equality for others as persecution.”
— abc730 (@abc730) July 10, 2019
Fr Bower warns of ‘haste’ in religious freedom debate
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Father Rod Bower said he supported religious freedom but warned of “a degree of undue haste” in the government’s planned religious discrimination laws.
“The basic idea is that the right to hold religious belief or no belief at all is absolute and should not be restricted.
“However, the right to manifest that religion can be lawfully constrained in some circumstances.
“Anti-discrimination legislation usually focuses on areas of human existence over which we have no choice; such as age, gender, race, disability, and sexual orientation.
“To place religion, about which we do make choices, into the same category as traditional anti-discrimination legislation would be a cause of great concern.”
During the same-sex marriage postal vote in 2017, the priest supported the YES vote. He posted pro-LGBTIQ signs outside his church in support of that campaign.
Previously, his sign reading, “Dear Christians. Some ppl are gay. Get over it. Love God” went viral in 2013.
In his 2018 autobiography, he explained the sign’s emotional backstory. It started when he got a phone call from a woman whose brother was dying.
But while administering rites to the man, he asked his family if he had a partner.
“He was gay, and [his family] suggested his partner go into another a room while I was there,” Bower said.
“And I was incensed, not at them, but at a culture that would put that family in that position that they might think I would disapprove.
“I certainly didn’t want to be part of that any more and that’s why I put up that sign.”
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