Same-sex marriage 'yes' vote could divide Anglican Church, bishop warns

The victory of the "yes" campaign in Australia's same-sex marriage vote could cause a rift within the Anglican Church if it came to a point where the definition of marriage would be changed, a bishop has warned.

(REUTERS / Jason Reed)A supporter of same-sex marriage in Australia is pictured through a rainbow flag during protest near a counter-demonstration against same-sex marriage at a park in Sydney, Australia, September 23, 2017.

The Anglican Dean of Perth, Rev. Richard Pengelley said it was likely the Church would talk about changing its policy on marriage on the next National Synod so that they would be more inclusive. While Sen. Dean Smith's same-sex marriage bill made its way to the Senate after 61.6 percent of Australians voted "yes" in the national survey, the Anglican Church still maintained that marrying a same-sex couple was illegal, ABC detailed.

Bishop Gary Nelson, whose diocese covers the area from Geraldton to the Kimberley, warned that the Anglican Church could split up over the issue of same-sex marriage. Nevertheless, he said the Church should continue to adhere to its traditional beliefs.

"If it came to that point, what would be more likely to happen would be the church would split over the issue," said Bishop Nelson. "As has occurred in America, for example where you've got two Anglican churches — one who disagrees with same-sex marriage and one who agrees."

He added: "I think that would be a more likely scenario than it getting passed."

In addition, Bishop Nelson spoke against practicing Christianity based on what the public dictates. If that happened, he said the church would just become a "social club."

As of Nov. 15, the Australian Bureau of Statistics' chief statistician announced that 61.6 percent of voters agreed with the change to the country's Marriage Act. The vote could lead to the legalization of same-sex marriage by the end of 2017, the BBC reported.

While Australia's constitution does not require the national survey, it was held mostly to ease the tensions within the government over the issue of same-sex marriage. Most MPs in the incumbent Liberal-National coalition are against gay marriage, but a significant minority in the Liberal Party strongly supports it.