The evangelical movement Faithworks is urging Christians not to take the statements issued by some Christian groups concerning the Sexual Orientation Regulations (SORs) as gospel, and has urged groups lobbying against the SORS not to play on 'people's fears and anxieties concerning diversity.'
In a statement issued today, the organisation said that it did not consider the Government's Sexual Orientation Regulations (SORs) which were approved by MPs last night (Monday) a threat to Christians - but that Christians should also make up their own minds rather than accept what lobby and campaign groups were saying.
The organisation says that is already helping churches to work within the new regulations.
It has today issued a guide that summarises the regulations as they affect Christians and other faith groups.
"This is not an argument about Christian morality" a statement issued today said. "It is rather a discussion about discrimination and prejudice, and ensuring that our services are delivered inclusively and in non-discriminatory ways.
The statement continued: "While recognising that there are different Christian perspectives on the issue of human sexuality, we encourage the church to continue to ensure that our service of other people is driven by the inclusive example of Christ, who served all people, even if he disagreed with their lifestyle. The proposed SORs are an opportunity for Christians to demonstrate the love and grace of Christ. Acceptance does not equate with agreement.
"The government has made it clear that it respects the conscience of people of faith. The proposed legislation does contain significant exemptions for religious organisations in appropriate circumstances.
"We encourage our members and all people of faith to read the draft legislation for themselves, and to draw their own conclusions."
"We would also urge people not to assume that press releases caricaturing the regulations are right, just because they contain the word 'Christian' in the title. In this vein, we respect the right of Christians to disagree with what Faithworks is saying. All we ask is that they decide for themselves.
Faithworks has also issued a document today (Tuesday) that summarises the regulations as they affect Christians and other faith groups. It also explains what they are and are not. It contains links to various government papers so that people can draw their own conclusions.
Faithworks has also scheduled a meeting for key church leaders on April 19th to discuss how churches can work within the legislation.
Faithworks says it is also working on a guide that will seek to help churches "provide services in a way that is non-discriminatory while still maintaining their distinctive Christian ethos, by ensuring they are able to protect their identity, equality, influence, conscience and diversity."
"We continue to encourage all parties to show grace and respect in their tone, and not to fall into the trap of playing to people's fears and anxieties concerning diversity, as these issues are discussed" the Faithworks statement said. "We must continue to ensure that the church avoids sounding homophobic and be committed to a credible, relevant and biblically authentic expression of our faith.
"While we recognise that there are Christians who have a different view to us, we are committed to dialogue and discussion that will support the church and harness the commitment that we all share to reflect Christ in a broken world."
The SOR's can be found here: http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2007/draft/20075920.htm
The Faithworks document, A brief guide to the Sexual Orientation Regulations is available to download at: http://www.faithworks.info