Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Religious liberty cuts both ways

The odious amendment 1, which passed in North Carolina to forbid gay couples from marrying, also included an additional, unusual component that forbids clergy from marrying anyone who doesn't have a marriage license.

From North Carolina's Charlotte Observer:
The General Synod of the United Church of Christ filed a lawsuit today in U.S. District Court in Charlotte, contending state law that defines marriage as a union between a man and woman restrict its ministers from performing their religious duties is unconstitutional.

North Carolina prohibits couples of the same gender from obtaining a marriage license and makes it a crime for ministers to officiate a marriage ceremony without determining whether a couple has a license. UCC attorneys say the law limits ministers’ choices, violates the principle of “free exercise of religion” and restricts the freedoms of religion and expressive association guaranteed in the First Amendment. The church seeks a preliminary injunction that would allow ministers the choice of performing a religious marriage.
In addition to the UCC, there are some other clergy involved in the suit.From the HuffPo:
"As a Christian minister in a Christian church that supports same-gender marriage, I should be religiously free to offer my services as a minister performing a wedding for a couple in my congregation," said Rev. Nancy Ellett Allison, a United Church of Christ plaintiff in the case, which also includes a dozen non-UCC clergy and same-sex couples.
Oh, my, doesn't THAT hoist the conservatives on their own petard!   Some people seem a little unclear on the concept that the government is not supposed to enforce theological views. Southern Baptist bigwig Russell Moore states that religious liberty is reserved for those who oppose marriage equality.
Tami Fitzgerald, director of the North Carolina Values Coalition, the group that led the charge to pass the state's ban on same-sex marriage, echoed Moore's sentiments, saying the beliefs of the clergy from the United Church of Christ are "errant." 
"These individuals are simply revisionists that distort the teaching of Scripture to justify sexual revolution, not marital sanctity," Fitzgerald said in a statement.
So, she thinks that government should promote her views over those of others.  Not much liberty there.  However, some people grudgingly get it.
Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, declared Tuesday that North Carolina's ban is "dubious and dangerous." And while Mohler has not changed his opposition to same-sex marriage -- he once equatedhomosexuality with cancer -- he did concede that the UCC clergy's lawsuit is "very convincing."
....Indeed, in his podcast, Mohler urged listeners to take the long view. 
"Even as we advocate for religious liberty, we have to understand that the guarantee of religious liberty means the freedom of heretics to teach heresy," he said. "If we deny religious liberty for others, very soon others will deny religious liberty to us. That's fair warning and this case bears close attention."
meanwhile, I'm proud to be friends with heretics!

But this isn't just about gays marrying.  That's a proxy for a whole slew of dangerous policies set by the REpublicans in control of NOrth Carolina.  As Susan Brooks Thistlewaite writes, 
Progressive people of faith and people of conscience across a wide spectrum are taking back the term "moral" from the extreme right, and it is important to see the UCC lawsuit as part of this larger moral struggle.... 
What has happened in North Carolina since 2012, from a faith perspective, is biblically and theologically wrong. In their frenzy of economic and civil rights cutting, these legislators and their supporters have 'fallen into the temptation' of creating systemic injustice, rather than systemic justice. ... 
North Carolina has "overreached" in making it illegal for the members of the United Church of Christ, and those of other faiths, to actually exercise their religious freedom to marry congregants who want to marry. And in "overreaching," in this way, these legislators tipped their hand, and made this lawsuit possible. 
The United Church of Christ has taken a bold and absolutely necessary step to protect religious freedom for all Americans, and in so doing has taken a stand against the gutting of real freedom in this country. 
I am very proud of my church and of the many people who worked to make this lawsuit possible. 
We are in a profound spiritual as well as democratic struggle in this country, and it is time to choose sides.

1 comment:

JCF said...

I'm mystified that the Episcopal bishop notes the lawsuit, notes the Christian diversity of the plaintiffs, notes the Episcopal opposition (in 2012) to the ban . . . but doesn't say anything about JOINING the lawsuit! O_o