A CAREFUL VIEW OF SCRIPTURE with Regard to LGBT Questions
Hitching Post Wedding Chapel --- Alleged Attack on Religious Freedom
The claim: (Dated: Monday, October 20, 2014) Coeur d‘Alene, Idaho, city officials have laid down the law to Christian pastors within their community, telling them bluntly via an ordinance that if they refuse to marry homosexuals, they will face jail time and fines. (from Washington times ... see below) and.... Attorneys filed a federal lawsuit and a motion for a temporary restraining order Friday to stop officials in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, from forcing two ordained Christian ministers to perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples. (from ADF see below)
General information: For years, perhaps decades, Christian groups have fretted that pastors will be forced to do gay weddings if gay marriage passes. Pastors and priests have already refused to do many heterosexual weddings according to the policies of their church. The groups they can refuse are much bigger than anything the gay community has. Separation of church and state keeps the courts from telling pastors or preists who they can and cannot marry. However certain factions of Christianity like to use this whole idea of forcing pastors/priests to do same sex weddings as a fear tactic. So ... whats the reality with this claim? See below..
The reality in this case is quite different than what is implied by the headline and multiple Christian reports.
First of all the Pastors are running a private for profit business. They are not church pastors … This is where things can get gray. Additionally they originally allowed multi-faith weddings but changed this policy once same sex weddings were allowed in the state of Idaho.
Secondly .. no one attacked them or tried to get them to do a same sex wedding. The ADF launched a pre-emptive strike with a law suit to block the city from forcing them to do a same sex wedding in the future.
Thirdly … this is pretty much a lot of noise about nothing since the law they were suing the city about already had an exemption for religious organizations. See link: http://opencda.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/LGBT-Ordinance.pdf The proposed law suit created a lot of hype for people to get all excited about. Below are the applicable parts of the law they were challenging… (emphasis mine)
9.56.040: EXCEPTIONS: A. Notwithstanding any other provision herein, nothing in this Chapter is intended to alter or abridge other rights, protections, or privileges secured under state and/or federal law. This ordinance shall be construed and applied in a manner consistent with First Amendment jurisprudence regarding the freedom of speech and exercise of religion. B. This chapter does not apply to:
1. Religious corporations, associations, educational institutions, or societies. 2. An expressive association whose employment of a person protected by this chapter would significantly burden the association’s rights of expressive association under Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, 530 U.S. 640 (2000). 3. The United States government, any of its departments or agencies, or any corporation wholly owned by it; or the state of Idaho or any of its departments, agencies, or political subdivisions, other than the City of Coeur d’Alene.
So there never really was a crisis. It does appear that the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel made some changes to its website … it originally claimed to allow for multi-faith weddings and civil unions. Those parts of the website were deleted so the the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel was more clearly established as a religious corporation.
Six months after this was resolved I am still hearing this story as if we lost and a great cloud of doom and government control is coming. I find it very disappointing that this type of misleading reporting is all too common. As Christians ... we really need to get correct information so we can make informed decisions. Unfortunately this is not what is happening. As it is now the only way for us to be properly informed is to investigate it ourselves.
What I wish we would see from Christian political organizations...
I wish Christian political organizations would actually be a source of information ... not hype. We could be informed about religious exemptions to these kinds of discrimination laws. We could be told how to ensure that our Christian business (if applicable) meets the requirements of being a religious organization. It is evident that The Hitching Post was given this direction from the changes to their website. But the articles at ADF give no such indication. Instead the headline of their article (Two Ministers Ordered To Perform Same-Sex Wedding Face Jail, Fines) gives the impression that all pastors are threatened everywhere. We need accurate information to navigate the changes in our world. .... Unfortunately ... the folks in the best place to give us that information have decided not to.
See below for further references. (I would note that if you look up this incident you will be likely overwhelmed with the number of incorrect sensationalist headlines.)