A Louisiana church barred a local Alcoholics Anonymous group from using its sanctuary for meetings in fear of possibly being forced to perform same-sex marriages by the state.
The lead pastor of Westwood Baptist Church in Keithville, Louisiana, recently wrote a letter to the organization informing them about their decision to no longer allow them to use their facility for meetings after five years of working together.
The letter was obtained by KSLA News and explains the church's decision in greater detail.
"As I am sure you are aware, God's church, His written word, and its values and principles have come under a constant and aggressive attack from the homosexual and lesbian community," the letter reads.
"Churches and Christian businesses alike, across our nation, are being forced, by our legal system, to accommodate these groups in the use of their buildings/facilities to perform marriage ceremonies, receptions etc. ... due to a court decision they say was based on the fact churches and businesses were accepting and accommodating other public entities, and therefore must also accommodate the homosexual and lesbian community."
According to KSLA News, church officials said everyone is welcome to join them in worship, but pastor David Veneble said Westwood had to make the decision to cut ties with AA in order to prevent future issues with violating scriptural principals.
Veneble stated that an article published in the Louisiana Baptist Church Message that gave suggestions for safeguarding against homosexual weddings influenced the decision to end their relationship with the AA group.
The article, according to the local news report, cited a New Jersey court ruling that involved a lesbian couple gaining access to a church owned pavilion for their wedding.
The pavilion, owned by the Methodist Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, was under an agreement to remain tax-exempt as long as the property was "open for public use on an equal basis."
When the organization declined to host a gay wedding ceremony at its pavilin, it was found to be in violation of the agreement it made with the state of New Jersey. Westwood Baptist Church, however, is under no such agreement with the state of Louisiana.
For this reason, critics claim the church is unnecessarily barring AA from meeting inside the facility.
"It was property the church owned, they applied for a New Jersey program that was specifically for nonprofits that could get their property tax exempt if they rented it out to the public," said Adrienne Critcher, political director for People Acting for Change and Equality, to KSLA.
"Even if we have legalized gay marriage throughout the country no church will be forced to marry gay people if they don't want to," she asserted.
Still, pastor Veneble stands by the church's decision and even explained that the establishment wrote new bylaws that will now only allow members to use their facility.