BELFAST (Reuters) - Ian Paisley, the firebrand protestant who played a central role in Northern Ireland politics through decades of violence and the peace process that followed, announced his retirement on Tuesday.
As the leading light of hardline unionists, for years opposed to making concessions to nationalists, Paisley became first minister in Northern Ireland's devolved government in 2007, sharing power with former foes.
His unlikely friendship with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, a former member of the armed nationalist group the IRA, earned the pair the nick-name "the chuckle brothers."
Paisley's decision not to stand for re-election to parliament in Westminster, where he is one of Britain's longest serving MPs, opens the way for his son, also named Ian Paisley to take a leading role in the province's politics.
What others may think, I am a big fan of Ian Paisley. He faced one of Satan's main weapons, the apostate Romish Church, and did good work in keeping Ulster out of the grips of the Irish Catholic Republic.
As I pointed out before, and yes, one might call it an American prejudice, we believe there should be wall between Religion and Government, and that ideal has served Christianity well. Ian could very well be either a politician or have a higher calling of pastor, but I can't see a person in both roles. So, there's no reason he can't continue as a pastor.
Vote? on who is a church leader? The only valid vote I know is with one's feet.