Thursday, June 27, 2013

Supreme Court Rulings on DOMA and California's Prop 8

There have been enough analyses of the decisions handed down yesterday and I would only be repeating what they have said.  However, there has been been scant commentary about how each of these decisions could affect Christian churches, particularly those which will not marry and/or bless same sex couples. 

The effects of yesterday's decisions do not give a universal right to gay marriage unlike what happened with Roe v. Wade in 1973 where the Supreme Court found (i.e. invented) a universal right to abortion.  There is speculation that this is merely an incremental step to a larger program of nationalizing gay marriage so as to avoid the controversy that occurred with Roe.  Marriage, gay or straight, still is the province of the states, as it should be and is a victory for federalism.  But, the majorities in both cases essentially hold that the only reason to rule against gay marriage is not because of any legal or constitutional argument, but is rooted strictly in animus or bigotry against gay people.  Here is part of the dissent from Justice Antonin Scalia:

It takes real cheek for today’s majority to assure us, as it is going out the door, that a constitutional requirement to give formal recognition to same-sex marriage is not at issue here—when what has preceded that assurance is a lecture on how superior the majority’s moral judgment in favor of same-sex marriage is to the Congress’s hateful moral judgment against it. I promise you this: The only thing that will “confine” the Court’s holding is its sense of what it can get away with. [emphasis mine]
So, where does this leave the churches?  President Obama, in his haste to congratulate the plaintiffs, promised that the churches who oppose gay marriage would be left alone.  He said:

 On an issue as sensitive as this, knowing that Americans hold a wide range of views based on deeply held beliefs, maintaining our nation’s commitment to religious freedom is also vital. How religious institutions define and consecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions.  Nothing about this decision — which applies only to civil marriages — changes that."
However, the Obama administration has demonstrated that freedom of religious expression should only be protected as long as that religious expression is an expressed endorsement of his statist goals.  One need only look at the administration's opposition to a Lutheran church in the Hosanna Tabor decision, where a unanimous supreme court said that the federal government had no business telling a church who it could ordain and who it couldn't.  And right now, there are many cases going on where businesses are fighting the HHS mandate that employers are required, under Obamacare, to provide abortifacients and  birth control to employees, regardless of whether they want them or not.  Some of these challenges are progressing favorably against the administration.  So, I take President Obama's statement cum grano salis.  We should not forget that the Supreme Court ruled that Bob Jones University did not qualify for tax exempt status because of its ban on interracial dating.  Well, if that form of bigotry is penalized by the state, is it unreasonable to ask how long before churches would be penalized in a similar way for not marrying same sex couples?

I don't care if two gay or lesbian people are together. That's their business and I have many other important things to worry about.  However, the insistence of the gay lobby that everyone else must accept and rejoice in what is their private business is offensive.  That's not tolerance; that's sanction. Tolerance is live and let live. Sanction means approval. And the two are not one and the same.  Justice Kennedy pretty much declared that those of us who oppose gay marriage are bigots. And if gay marriage ever becomes the law of the land (whether by judicial fiat, congressional action or if all states approve it), then those of opposed will be on the same level as racists and segregationists and members of the Ku Klux Klan.  If anyone thinks that if such a scenario ever occurred that churches would be exempted are wrong.  History is replete with examples.

In Italy, during the Mussolini reign, Catholic priests who actively preached against and condemned fascism were invited by the Fascist Leadership to have a couple of drinks.  One week, it would be one drink. If the behavior persisted, the next time would be two drinks and so on.  The drinks in question were castor oil, too much of which will be fatal and pretty gruesome. 

I certainly hope that the Orthodox Church is not forced into marrying gay couples.  The Orthodox Church has not had to deal with the issues that other Christian confessions are confronted with because of our own unique history and our relative immunity to the rampant secularism of Europe. 

At the same time, maybe a good persecution is what we need. (More on that later)

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