November 20, 2014

February 18, 2013


2nd VIEW: Attorney: Church bylaws should define marriage

Good advice for conservative Episcopal parishes too—found over at Baptist Press:

With the U.S. Supreme Court set to take up gay marriage and potentially legalize it this summer, churches that host wedding ceremonies or other events for traditional couples should examine their bylaws and shield themselves from the impact of possible litigation, says an attorney who specializes in religious liberty issues.

The justices are scheduled in March to hear two cases concerning gay marriage, and by June could either uphold the traditional definition of marriage or legalize gay marriage in all 50 states. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF)—a religious liberty legal organization—is hoping for the former but preparing churches for the latter, just in case.

A number of situations could place churches in legal trouble, such as congregations who would:

—allow a traditional couple but not a same-sex couple to use their facility for a wedding ceremony.

—allow a traditional couple but not a same-sex couple to take part in a marriage class or retreat.

—terminate an employee involved in a same-sex wedding.


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5 comments

I wonder about this. I would hope that a church could make its own rules for marriage, based on First Amendment rights. For example, the Roman Catholic Church excludes some people from marrying - such as those who are divorced, and those within the proscribed degrees of consanguinity or affinity. Of course, First Amendment rights are kind of an endangered species at the moment.

[1] Posted by Nellie on 2-18-2013 at 05:11 PM · [top]

As we all know the Constitution is void where prohibited by law.

[2] Posted by Br. Michael on 2-19-2013 at 07:13 AM · [top]

I keep hearing propagandists say “Jesus never said anything about gays” which is patently false.  As a partial balance for this, and apropos of this posting, and in the light of the current confusion about what the word “marriage” means, I suggest that all Christian churches start using a phrase such as the following in their PR material:  replace all references to “marriage ...” with “marriage (as defined by Jesus in Mark 10) ...”

I hope that even the detractors would have to admit as reasonable that a Christian organization should be allowed to use the definition clearly provided by its founder, Jesus Christ.

[3] Posted by Michael D on 2-19-2013 at 03:25 PM · [top]

I wonder about this.  I think making these by-law changes make sense, and may be helpful in some circumstances.  But I wonder if having such by-laws would be effective for TEC or other liberal mainline denominations that have institutionally embraced same-sex “marriage”.

Basically, the argument will eventually come down to these questions:
1) Does the constitutional protection for freedom of religion permit churches to discriminate against a specific group of persons when it comes to marriage related activities?
2) Is the specific instance a case of legitimate religious belief or a pretext for bigotry?

So, let’s suppose that a gay “married” couple wanted to attend the marriage course at St. Sarah & St. Matt’s Episcopal Church.  And the church said “no, and here are our by-laws.” 

To which the gay couple says “no, you have no legitimate grounds to refuse us.  Your denomination says that gay ‘marriage’ is just fine, and indeed, there are multiple references that opposing gay ‘marriage’ is bigoted and against justice.  You are part of that denomination and you are bound by those rules.  Sure, you might be bigoted and against justice, but that is just your individual opinion, not a bona fide issue of freedom of religion.”

[4] Posted by jamesw on 2-19-2013 at 03:45 PM · [top]

As gay marriage becomes increasingly sanctioned through legislation, look for a wave of lawsuits over such couples being “denied” their rights to use church facilities for receptions, rites and ceremonies approved by a part of a denomination, or some other such trumped up offense. I don’t think bylaws changes will offer much protection. Eventually the SCOTUS may have to settle these questions. Keep that in mind as SCOTUS nominees come up for consideration and in future presidential elections.

[5] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 2-19-2013 at 03:56 PM · [top]

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