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.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy compared opposition to the court's landmark ruling ending legal opposition to same-sex marriage to a 1989 decision that said freedom to burn an American flag is protected speech.
It was Kennedy's first comments since last month's decision, Obergefell v. Hodges, that struck down a ban against same-sex marriage in 14 states. Kennedy believes that while the decision on the flag burning case was unpopular at first, public opinion changed over time.
He made the comments Wednesday at a 9th Circuit Conference in San Diego. Kennedy, 78, often seen as an important swing vote on the Court, is a native of Southern California who formerly ruled from the 9th Circut bench. more >>
"A nation that prefers disgrace to danger is prepared for a master and deserves one." - Alexander Hamilton
In the middle of the Cold War, then-Governor Ronald Reagan quoted the above warning in his 1964 classic speech, "A Time to Choose." Similar to Winston Churchill awakening Great Britain amidst the growing Nazi threat in 1940, the "Great Communicator" sensed a gathering storm and challenged multitudes capitulating to big-government socialism and Communism.
For eight years, I've served with other courageous leaders investing a significant portion of ministry to compassionately confront the dangerous acceptance of sexual behavior that the Bible labels as "moral impurity", "degrading", "shameless", "indecent", "unnatural" and "perversion" (Rom.1:24-27). While we are to reach out in love to every individual, we must resist an agenda dishonoring our Creator, undermining the sanctity of marriage and attempting to redefine it so homosexual unions, polyamory and polygamy are considered acceptable, normal and beautiful. more >>
Self-identified "Christian agnostic" Frank Schaefer, the United Methodist pastor defrocked for officiating a same-sex wedding and reinstated on a technicality, remains in defiance of the UMC Book of Discipline. He blogged about his participation in Santa Barbara's "first ever Pride inter-faith service." He was part of the planning committee and drafted this "litany of confession" as an apology to the LGBTQ community:
"As a gathering of people of various faiths we acknowledge the wrongdoings of the past toward persons of the LGBTQ community. We, as communities of Faith, have not always been welcoming and affirming of you. We, as clergy have failed to listen and support you, we failed to acknowledge your human dignity and worth, have often treated you as second-class believers and have harmed you with words of exclusion and hatred defining you as 'inherently disordered,' as 'contrary to God's will,' as 'sinners,' as 'perverts,' and as 'abominations.' We, as religious leaders, have denied you the rights of self-definition, integrity and humanity; we have not given you a voice. We have subjected you to abusive 'religious counseling' and harmful 'conversion therapy.' We, as religious institutions, have defrocked, excommunicated, and shunned you. We have turned your loved ones against you; we have forced you into the closet and made you internalize our lies. We, as religious lobbyists, have supported measures that denied you the rights granted under the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution to equal protection under the law. We have supported measures to deny you entry into the institutions of your choice and prevent you from gaining your rightful place in our society. This should have never happened, we were wrong in our beliefs, words and actions. We sincerely apologize to you and your loved ones. We are committed to remember your struggles and sufferings at the hand of hetero-sexism and homophobia and our part in it. We, as people of faith, will strive to welcome and embrace all people, promise to do all in our power to oppose those who to discriminate against anyone because of who they are or who they love, and together we hope that one day all people may find the courage and saftey to break free from the closets of the world."
He also wrote a "litany of thanksgiving for the advancement of LGBTQ rights: more >>
WASHINGTON — Political scientist Mark David Hall explained Monday that America's history is rich with examples of governments creating religious accommodations for generally applicable laws and asserted that accommodations protecting Christian business owners from having to serve same-sex weddings would be no different.
Hall, a political science professor at George Fox University in Oregon, gave a Monday lecture at the Family Research Council where he explained that although there has been much opposition to the passing of Religious Freedom Restoration Acts in certain states, states have a long history of passing exemptions to laws that forced believers to violate their religious beliefs, even with much support from liberals.
In the last few years, there have been a number of lawsuits brought against Christian business owners who have refused service for same-sex weddings on the basis that it would have violated their religious convictions. Such cases have resulted in business owners being fined ruinous amounts and the loss of their business. more >>
Julie Rodgers, a counselor in the Chaplain's Office at Wheaton College, announced Monday that she supports same-sex relationships and resigned her position at the college. Rodgers, who identified as a gay, celibate Christian, said she no longer sees celibacy as a viable option for most self-identified gays.
In a blog post, Rodgers wrote, "When young people have angsted at me about the gay debate, I've just told them to follow Jesus—to seek to honor Him with their sexuality and love others well." For some, this means embracing celibacy, Rodgers said; but for most, it means pursuing marriage to someone of the same sex. "We're made for long-term, committed relationships that bind us to one another and cost us something . . . Some might find that in friendship, which is wonderful. But most will find it in a spouse because that's the context we have for making such serious commitments and staying true to them once life happens."
I affirm an orthodox Christian sexual ethic and wrote an article for WORLD expressing concerns when Wheaton hired Rodgers. So, one might expect me to disagree with her. Actually, I think Rodgers is right – just not in the way she thinks. more >>