The damaged billboard Vandals have ripped a cross from a "Gay-dar" meter billboard outside liberal Auckland church St Matthews-in-the-City and the church believes it's likely to be deliberate sabotage. St Matthews-in-the-city is using the sign to publicise debate on the issue of discrimination against gay and lesbian people in the Anglican Church. It's displaying a "Gay-dar" meter that shows "Straight" on one side and "Gay" on the other, suggesting the Church uses this to determine who its potential priests might be. When GayNZ.com Daily News staff took a picture of the billboard today the cross which acted as a gauge had been removed. Priest Associate Reverend Clay Nelson says it's hard to say what happened to the cross, but points out the church has a history of people vandalising its high-profile and controversial billboards. "So my thinking it's probably someone making their statement that they didn't like it. It could have been a drunk, but that seems unlikely to me." Reverend Nelson says St Matthews hasn't bothered complaining to the police and says the cross can easily be repaired. The church has today released a selection of comments by those who have signed a petition in favour of ending discrimination in the ordination of priests, which include a statement from a man named as Andrew: " I've been a life long Christian who has always felt ostracised from my faith community cause of the fact I won't suppress or lie about my homosexuality, I'm proud to be a gay Christian who worships in the Anglican tradition and I pray that one day Christ will allow his church to recognise me, not as a vile sinner but as the way God made me." Beth Mackay adds: "I am not a church goer but I salute St Matthews for making the stand they have made on this issue. I love the progressiveness of St Matthews." Reverend Nelson says the church is getting many positive responses. "It's not part of our national character to make a lot of public statements, we tend to say 'well that was interesting. But in this case there are a lot of people making very passionate and strong statements, saying it's time for the church to change. And I'm delighted. Maybe we've reached a point of maturity in our culture where we're willing to let go of these old fears and prejudices." He says St Matthews has a long history of supporting the glbt community, with the first specific supportive congregation formed 30 years ago - and still going strong now. "We feel very committed to speak out on their behalf." Reverend Cardy says he believes the people who are harmed most by the 'bigotry and discrimination' are the non-gay community. "I think it does harm to our spirituality and we need to face up to that. And non-gays need to speak up for non-gays. The gay community has shown great resilience and strength after living through years of this discrimination, they know what this discrimination does to them, but I don't think the rest of us know what it does to us."
Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News staff
First published: Saturday, 2nd July 2011 - 2:29pm
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