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Presbyterian Bishop Timotheus Nasir at the seminar

Christian polygamists ‘should be charged’


January 22 2010

LAHORE, Pakistan (UCAN) - Church leaders are demanding action against prominent Christians who they say are flouting both state and church laws barring polygamy.

"The bonds of holy matrimony are unbreakable according to the Bible. It is against God's plan to marry twice or more if one's wife is alive," Pastor Hizkiel Sarosh from the Full Gospel Assembly told churchmen at a seminar titled "Polygamy and the Holy Bible."

"Those who marry twice do not know Christianity and do not deserve to be our leaders," he said.

More than 400 Church leaders from various denominations attended the Jan. 20 event organized by Lahore Christian Organization (LCA), a Christian NGO, at Alhamra Arts Council building in Lahore.

The speakers, most of them pastors, demanded that Church and government action be taken against Christian leaders with more than one wife.

The LCA says that in many cases the polygamists marry their new spouses outside Pakistan and try to keep their marital situations out of the public eye.
A new movement
The seminar marked the beginning of a movement that will demand polygamists be brought to book according to the LCA.

"There are more than 10 pastors running churches in Lahore with two wives. The same can be said of a few Christian politicians," said LCA chairman Khadim Perwaiz Masih.

"We are trying to put forward recommendations to excommunicate such Christians … We shall continue holding such programs and appear on television talk shows until our demands are realized."

Catholic Vicar General Father Andrew Nisari told UCA News: "Both Catholic and Protestant Churches in Pakistan agree to excommunicate polygamists. Catholic priests can stop giving Holy Communion, sacraments and even funeral services to such people. The Church must take a united stand."

The Church leaders also urged the government to act and recommended that laws that prohibit polygamy in Christian marriage be clearly defined.

Pakistan's marriage and divorce laws regarding Christians still adhere to the ones set down by the British colonial administration in India in the mid to late 19th century and have become blurred over time, the Church leaders claim.

"We are following laws that are more than a century old. The government needs to amend it, said Bishop Timotheus Nasir, head of the United Presbyterian Church, at the seminar.

PA08596.1585 January 22, 2010 45 EM-lines (375 words)