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Although such statements are merely a repetition of the Bible's condemnation of homosexual behavior, the ASA prohibited the future publication of the advertisement, and decreed that all future ads placed by the Sandown Free Presbyterian Church would have to be submitted to the agency for approval before being placed in publications.
The ASA reportedly admitted that the ad was "representative of the beliefs of a specific group and indicative of their opinion only," but said that the text went "further than the majority of readers were likely to find acceptable." The ASA also ruled that it had "caused serious offence to some readers" and should not be published again in its current form.
The decision was in response to complaints filed anonymously with the ASA.
Dr. Ian Paisley, recently-resigned First Minister of Northern Ireland and one of the founders of the church, said that the church would not comply with the order, even if it members are jailed.
"We believe the Bible is the written word of God â€“ the infallible word of God, and it has to be obeyed, so we will obey God rather than men, and if it means there has to be court proceedings, if it means even that we are going to be jailed for holding on to this, then that's a price we have to pay, and we are prepared to pay it," he said to the press.
Rev. David McIlveen, pastor of the Sandown Free Presbyterian Church, was equally unyielding. "As a church we remain firm in our conviction that it is better to obey God than man; and that no counsel of man men and women (sic) can alter, dilute or remove the sincerely held views that are authorised through the message of the Bible," he wrote in a recent statement publicized in the Belfast Newsletter (http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/Statement-by-Rev-David-McIl...).
"It has never been our intention to deliberately offend anyone, but we cannot deny that the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ will by its very nature be a source of offence to those who rebel against its message and in turn despise its messengers," he continued.