The Evangelical Protestant Society in Northern Ireland has called on the region’s politicians to keep biblical values at the heart of political decisions.
In a statement the society, which describes itself as an evangelical umbrella organisation that ‘seeks to defend and promote evangelical Protestantism in our changing society’, said it has been concerned for some time about the ‘gradual but steady erosion’ of Ulster’s Protestant foundations.
The society has written to all Protestant and Unionist elected representatives at Stormont and Westminster to urge them to ‘take a firm stand’ in two specific areas where the group feels there has been ‘slippage’ recently.
The statement said, ‘There is an alarming decline in respect for the sanctity of the Lord’s Day, with more and more social and sporting events being held on a Sunday.
‘Sadly, it seems that this relaxed attitude to Sunday is also rubbing off on some evangelical Christians, and it is vital that there is a return to the old paths in relation to Sunday observance’.
It said that, although it commended the Democratic Unionist Party for its ‘principled refusal to participate in the Haass talks on a Sunday’, it would encourage it and, indeed, all Unionist representatives to stand firm for the Lord’s Day.
The statement added: ‘The other area of concern relates to the seemingly increasing willingness on the part of some Protestant politicians to attend requiem Mass.
‘We fully appreciate the sensitivities surrounding this issue, and do not wish to take an approach that might be interpreted as uncaring towards those who have been bereaved. However, there are ways in which we can offer support and sympathy which do not include being present at the Mass’.
The statement said although the EPS respected the right of conscience, it disagreed with the assertion by the First Minister in a speech last October that his attendance at the Mass was the right thing to do.