In the aftermath of Obergefell v. Hodges, pastors and church members are experiencing a wave of anxiety over what many of them deem the "nightmare scenario": lawsuits or government action designed to force them to perform or recognize same-sex marriages. While there are — so far — no meaningful judicial precedents that would permit such dramatic interference with churches' core First Amendment rights, lawsuits challenging church liberties are inevitable.
Indeed, the Iowa Civil Rights Commission has declared that prohibitions against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity "sometimes" apply to churches and has stated that a "church service open to the public" is not a "bona fide religious purpose" that would limit application of the law. In 2012 a New Jersey administrative-law judge ruled that a religious organization "closely associated with the United Methodist Church" wrongly denied access to its facilities for a same-sex wedding.
Churches, like virtually every functioning corporation, protect against liability risks and the potentially ruinous costs of litigation through liability insurance. With same-sex marriage now recognized as a constitutional right — and with news of Oregon's Bureau of Labor and Industries awarding a lesbian couple $135,000 in damages for "emotional, mental and physical suffering" after a Christian bakery refused to bake their wedding cake — pastors are reaching out insurance companies to make sure they're covered. And at least one insurer has responded with a preemptory denial: no coverage if a church is sued for refusing to perform a same-sex wedding. more >>
"God's Not Dead 2: He's Surely Alive," the sequel to the $60 million grossing 2014 film, hits theaters on Easter of 2016 and will feature a slew of cameos from well-known celebrities, including an appearance from "Duck Dynasty" star Sadie Robertson.
Robertson will follow in the footsteps of her parents, Willie and Korie, who made a cameo in the original "God's Not Dead" film.
The sequel to the faith-based mega-hit stars Melissa Joan Hart, who's best known for her roles in the TV series "Clarissa Explains It All" and "Sabrina the Teenage Witch," and actor Jesse Metcalf who made a name himself as the adulterous landscaper on ABC's "Desperate Housewives." more >>
Ulf Ekman, the former leader of evangelical megachurch Word of Life in Sweden, reflected on his first year as a member of the Roman Catholic Church with his wife following his conversion, and said that things started to make sense for them after the reception. Ekman revealed that the Blessed Virgin Mary led him and his wife to the Catholic Church, and said that loving Jesus means to love the Church.
"It was a real experience for us. It was like several missing pieces fell into place, and so much started to make sense. There was a deep sense of 'arriving' that came to us," Ekman explained in an interview with The National Catholic Register, talking about the reception with his wife, Birgitta, into the Church on May 21, 2014.
"It has been a wonderful year that we will never forget as long as we live. We feel very much at home in the Church and are grateful to the Lord. It has also been an intense year, due to the ongoing media coverage in Scandinavia. We have gained some wonderful new friends, but, like Blessed John Henry Newman said, it has also been a time of 'parting of friends,'" he added. more >>
Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States, said Tuesday that in his personal opinion Jesus Christ would approve of same-sex marriage.
Carter's remarks come less than two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that state-level gay marriage bans are unconstitutional. His belief, however, does not align with a number of conservative Christians, both from evangelical and Catholic traditions, who've said that God has made marriage between one man and one woman, and have been disappointed by the Supreme Court's decision.
"I believe Jesus would. I don't have any verse in Scripture. ... I believe Jesus would approve gay marriage, but that's just my own personal belief. I think Jesus would encourage any love affair if it was honest and sincere and was not damaging to anyone else. And I don't see that gay marriage damages anyone else," Carter told HuffPost Live in an interview on Tuesday. more >>
At the invitation of The Christian Post, I am answering the 40 questions put forward by "gay Christian" advocate Matthew Vines, after which I will put two simple questions to Matthew (and his allies). What is absolutely stunning, though, is that in these 40 questions, he failed to ask the only one that really matters, namely, "What does the Bible say about homosexual practice?" The reason for that is self-evident, namely, it is impossible to make a case for homosexual relationships using the Word of God alone.
That's why, for the last decade (and until this moment), I have offered to debate the issue of the Bible and homosexual practice with any qualified representative of the "gay Christian" position, yet I have had no takers. (Matthew and I did engage in a brief debate hosted by Moody radio, but as is well known, Matthew agreed to do the broadcast before realizing he would be debating me, after which he felt it would be worse publicity to drop out rather than do the show. Those interested can watch the debate here. For a relevant follow-up article, go here.) I also address many of the questions Matthew raises in my book Can You Be Gay and Christian?, but for the benefit of those who don't have the book, and so as to answer all the questions conveniently in one place, I've responded to each of them here.
Before addressing the questions, it's important to address Matthew's premise, namely, those of us who uphold Scripture "oppose marriage equality." Actually, we oppose redefining marriage; as for so-called "marriage equality," as I have pointed out, advocates of "same-sex marriage" represent just one group clamoring for changes in marriage laws, including polygamists, polyamorists, and adult incestuous couples. That's why the Marriage Equality Blogspot calls for "Full Marriage Equality," specifically, "for the right of consenting adults to share and enjoy love, sex, residence and marriage without limits on the gender, number or relation of participants." So, from that point of view, Matthew also opposes "marriage equality." more >>
This is the first of a three-part commentary on the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.
On Friday, June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled by a 5-4 vote to impose so-called "gay marriage" on all 50 states. The White House celebrated with a rainbow lightshow. What can I say? I say this: It's a shame.
It seems like a long time ago, but in 1997 when Ellen DeGeneres rehearsed her "coming out" television scene, she welled up with tears each time she said the line, "I'm gay." According to The New York Times, in a later interview Ellen said that crying was because of "shame" that came from society telling her that she was "wrong." Should Ellen have been ashamed? Was she wrong? more >>