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-Episcopal Church Supports Same-Sex Marriage

by Dr. D ~ July 2nd, 2015

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The Episcopal Church is holding a conference this week in Salt Lake City. They became the 2nd major American denomination to respond to the Supreme Court decision on marriage from that city. However, the responses were entirely different. The Mormon Church (LDS) authorities rejected the SCOTUS redefinition of marriage while the Episcopal Convention voted to support it and open up their churches to same-sex marriage. Here’s the story from Reuters via Yahoo News:

SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) – The U.S. Episcopal Church voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to let gay couples wed in the denomination’s religious ceremonies, reinforcing its support for same-sex nuptials days after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide.

The Church, part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, became in 2012 the largest U.S. religious denomination to approve a liturgy for clergy to use in blessing same-sex unions, including gay marriages in states where they were already legal.

While some clergy and lay members disagreed with the proposal put before the Church’s triennial convention, held in Salt Lake City, the faith’s House of Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops, which overwhelmingly approved the measure in a separate vote on Tuesday. …

Under the new rules, clergy can opt out of performing gay marriage ceremonies.

<Read the whole article>

Response: No surprise here. If this was a baseball game, it is the first inning and the score is tied 1-1. As I have repeatedly said ad nauseum, every religion, denomination and church in America will now need to commit one way or another on same-sex marriage.

Notice that the clergy has been given an opt out. This was a surprise. It is an obvious bone to the more conservative churches and ministers who opposed it. An obvious effort to stop more from leaving the denomination and joining up with conservative Anglican groups sponsored by several African Anglican Archbishops.

It will be interesting to see how the larger Anglican Communion will respond to their liberal American members at the next Anglican conference. The rest of the world communion was not too happy with the American church last time over the ordination of gay bishops.

After the last Anglican gathering several African Archbishops responded by sponsoring conservative congregations that split away from the Episcopal Church. There are still legal disputes before the courts over property from congregations and whole dioceses who left the denomination. This decision will undoubtedly continue the schism among American Anglicans.            *Top

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-LDS Church (Mormon) Response to Supreme Court Marriage Decision

by Dr. D ~ July 2nd, 2015

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          (LDS Temple -Salt Lake: Wikipedia)

The leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) has issued an official response to the recent Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage. A letter supporting traditional marriage and prohibiting same-sex marriages and celebrations in their churches and on their properties has been sent out to be read on July 5 in all of their churches in the USA and Canada.

Response: Every religion, denomination, church and Christian organization in America will now have to clearly declare where they stand one way or another on same-sex marriage.  No exceptions. Well, maybe the Muslims will get a free pass.

The Mormon Church is among the first to commit. Those of us who support Biblical teaching and theology can do nothing but compliment their stand in this case and their timing.

<Read the whole article which includes quotes from the Mormon document on the Apologetica page>               *Top

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-Hillary Clinton on Supreme Court Marriage Decision: Possible Implications for Religious Liberty?

by Dr. D ~ July 1st, 2015

Hillary Clinton

           (Image: Hillary Clinton)

Among the politicians running for President in 2016, all of them quickly responded to the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage. While most of the Republican candidates were concerned about religious liberty, Hillary Clinton may have a different idea. Here’s what Hillary had to say:

"From Stonewall to the Supreme Court, the courage and determination of the LGBT community has changed hearts and changed laws.

This ruling is an affirmation of the commitment of couples across the country who love one another. …

So while we celebrate the progress won today, we must stand firm in our conviction to keep moving forward. For too many LGBT Americans who are subjected to discriminatory laws, true equality is still just out of reach. While we celebrate today, our work won’t be finished until every American can not only marry, but live, work, pray, learn and raise a family free from discrimination and prejudice. We cannot settle for anything less."

<Read the whole article>

Response: When Hillary says that the LGBT community needs to keep moving forward until they can:

pray …free from discrimination and prejudice. We cannot settle for anything less.

What does she really mean and more importantly, what kind of action towards that goal is she talking about?

Maybe she is talking about ‘praying’ in a mosque or Orthodox Jewish synagogue? LGBT folks are free right now to attend and pray in any church in America. However most churches will not marry same-sex couples and the vast majority do not have gay leaders or clergy. Is this phrase really code for changing and maybe even forcing all churches to comply on the rest? Otherwise what does it really mean we she says- “we cannot settle for anything less”? While no specific actions are called for here it does seem rather ominous and a challenge to religious liberty is at least implied since many churches will not want to change.

This calls into question what kind of actions that Hillary Clinton might propose if elected president in 2016? Also, what could we expect from a Hillary Clinton administration when it comes to First Amendment rights and the freedom of religion? The following might give us some probable indications:

-In the past, she has come out in favor of a limited form of religio0us freedom called-  ‘Freedom of Worship’ which proposes that religious liberty be contained within the four walls of an officially zoned and approved place of worship.

-In August 2011 Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State went on the record in support of the UN ‘Defamation of Religions’ resolution which called for specific restrictions on religious conversation concerning Islam, the Quran, and it’s founder Muhammad.

-Even more telling, she made the following statement about abortion in April:

Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will. And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.”

While no specifics have been forth coming from Hillary, one can deduce from her past statements and from some of the rather ominous language that she has used here and in the past that she would be in favor of limiting religious freedom and maybe even using laws and regulations to try and force changes in churches and religious institutions.             *Top

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-ACLU: Will Not Defend Religious Freedom of Christians

by Dr. D ~ June 30th, 2015

ACLU

The ACLU recently announced that they would no longer defend and support the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) specifically because they claim that the RFRA is now used as a tool of discrimination. What they are really saying is that they will not support the religious liberty of conservative Christians who oppose same-sex marriage. Here’s the story from the Washington Post:

The ACLU supported the RFRA’s passage at the time because it didn’t believe the Constitution, as newly interpreted by the Supreme Court, would protect people such as Iknoor Singh, whose religious expression does not harm anyone else. But we can no longer support the law in its current form. For more than 15 years, we have been concerned about how the RFRA could be used to discriminate against others. As the events of the past couple of years amply illustrate, our fears were well-founded. While the RFRA may serve as a shield to protect Singh, it is now often used as a sword to discriminate against women, gay and transgender people and others. Efforts of this nature will likely only increase should the Supreme Court rule — as is expected — that same-sex couples have the freedom to marry.

<Read the whole article>

Response: So the ACLU supports civil liberties and freedom for everyone except conservative Christians. Actually this is really nothing new. Rarely have ACLU lawyers taken on any cases defending Christians.

What about Muslims and Orthodox Jews who have similar beliefs that they could also label as ‘discriminatory’? If a Muslim business owner refuses to be involved in a same–sex ceremony is that also discrimination or does the concern over Islamophobia over rule it all in that case? Probably will never find out since gay activists will never have the guts to confront a Muslim business owner.

Christians might be called ‘bigots’ when it comes to same-sex marriage but in reality no one would ever be concerned about their health in confronting a Christian business owner since most are actually caring and loving to everyone regardless.                 *Top

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-Are Conservative Christians Now Cultural Exiles?

by Dr. D ~ June 29th, 2015

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I have literally read hundreds of different responses to the Supreme Court decision on marriage. One major theme coming across from both sides of the spectrum is that the tide has shifted in America against conservative Christians. Many saying that the future is now bleak for those who still believe in the teaching and authority of the Bible.

Are conservative Christians now cultural exiles in their own country? Are evangelicals headed for the underground? This is what some are saying the future holds for Biblical Christians in America. Does the Supreme Court decision for same-sex marriage mark the beginning of the end for the ‘culture wars’ in America? In some respect I believe that it does. Here is one author’s take, Rod Dreher, on this question from Time.com:

It is hard to overstate the significance of the Obergefell decision — and the seriousness of the challenges it presents to orthodox Christians and other social conservatives. …its radicalism requires of conservatives a realistic sense of how weak our position is in post-Christian America.

…when a Supreme Court majority is willing to invent rights out of nothing, it is impossible to have faith that the First Amendment will offer any but the barest protection to religious dissenters from gay rights orthodoxy.

For another, LGBT activists and their fellow travelers really will be coming after social conservatives. The Supreme Court has now, in constitutional doctrine, said that homosexuality is equivalent to race. The next goal of activists will be a long-term campaign to remove tax-exempt status from dissenting religious institutions. The more immediate goal will be the shunning and persecution of dissenters within civil society. …

But orthodox Christians must understand that things are going to get much more difficult for us. We are going to have to learn how to live as exiles in our own country. We are going to have to learn how to live with at least a mild form of persecution. …

It is time for what I call the Benedict Option. In his 1982 book After Virtue, the eminent philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre likened the current age to the fall of ancient Rome. …We await, he said “a new — and doubtless very different — St. Benedict.”

Throughout the early Middle Ages, Benedict’s communities formed monasteries, and kept the light of faith burning through the surrounding cultural darkness. Eventually, the Benedictine monks helped refound civilization.

<Read the whole article>

Response:  Does the Supreme Court decision for same-sex marriage mark the beginning of the end for the ‘culture wars’ in America? Yes it does.

Is freedom of religion going to be affected by this decision. Yes it will. At least 4 of the justices expect it will be an issue and the majority at least mentioned it.  It is just a matter of how much and how soon.

LGBT folks have now gained the same legal status as race in America. There will be legal and economic consequences for conservative churches and Christian organizations and institutions which maintain their traditional Biblical views and practices.

Are conservative Christians now cultural exiles in their own country? A lot depends upon where you live. On the ‘blue’ coasts for sure but in small town America not so much.

Are evangelicals headed for the underground? No. I do not fully agree with the author in the article above. In fact I believe that most conservative churches will now stand up as never before and renew their efforts to bring Christ to a fallen country. The time may come for the church to go into separate communities and take the ‘Benedict Option’ but this not that time. Now is the time to be a beacon of light and love within our present cities and communities. That is the true ‘evangelical option.’

There is also another option- the ‘Prayer and Revival Option.’ Already prayer warriors are on their knees crying out for revival and a new awakening in America. In spite of everything else, prayer changes things and people. This is not a time to silently go into the night but to stand up and be counted in our neighborhoods and communities and on our knees in our homes and churches.               *Top

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-Iran Forces Gays to Have Sex Change Surgeries

by Dr. D ~ June 27th, 2015

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Several years ago when Iran’s president at the time, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, visited the United States a member of the press asked him about how living conditions were for homosexuals in his country. He responded that there were no gays ‘living’ in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The fact is that homosexuality is punishable by death in Iran. However, the latest news coming out of that radical country confirms that gays are now given the option to have sex change surgeries instead and many are choosing the alternative. Here’s the story from the Daily Caller:

Iran has a well-documented record of coercing gay and lesbian people into having the gender reassignment surgery, that is, disrupting rather than “confirming” the gender identity of hundreds per year. Since homosexuality can be punishable by death in Iran, known homosexual men tend to accept the government-subsidized surgery to become women, and vice versa.  …

The State Department’s new report covers the state of human rights … The chapter on Iran is some 16,000 words long, documenting restrictions such as lack of freedom …and includes a sub-section on the condition of LGBT people. That section states that Iranian law “defines transgender persons as mentally ill,” and that Iran therefore loans candidates for surgery up to $2,030 to undergo the operation.

By referring to the surgeries as “gender confirmation,” rather than the much more widespread and morally neutral “sex reassignment surgery,” the State Department seems to be siding with the Iranian government’s false “cure” for homosexuality.  …

The State Department’s human rights report also comes just days before the June 30 deadline for a finalized nuclear deal with Iran.

<Read the whole article>

Response: Ironically this report comes out while President Obama and his administration are celebrating the SCOTUS decision on same-sex marriage. Last week the administration downplayed the news that Iran’s Parliament took time out of their busy schedule to shout out -“Down with America.”  Now this barbaric report.

The Obama administration is going out of the way to sugar coat the report on Iran and give it the best possible face while they are in the midst of negotiations over their nuclear program. The State Department report calls it “gender confirmation” when in reality it is a choice between that or death by execution. 

A report by the BBC presents the real facts and the sad results for Iranian gay and lesbian folks who were forced into having hormone therapy and sex change surgeries. Not a pretty picture and certainly not “gender confirmation” in the majority of cases.               *Top

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-Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Same-Sex Marriage: Implications for Religious Liberty

by Dr. D ~ June 26th, 2015

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In a monumental decision by the slimmest of margins same-sex marriage is now the law of the land. The justices of Supreme Court of the United States ruled in a 5-4 decision that the 14th Amendment applies in this case and homosexual marriage can no longer be banned in any state of the union.

Justice Kennedy wrote for the majority and concluded that religious liberty should not be affected. Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas disagree and do expect some problems for religious freedom coming out of this decision. The following are their statements on this issue. From Christianity Today:

Justice Anthony Kennedy…Regarding religious freedom:

Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. … In turn, those who believe allowing same-sex marriage is proper or indeed essential, whether as a matter of religious conviction or secular belief, may engage those who disagree with their view in an open and searching debate.

In dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts writes:

Federal courts are blunt instruments when it comes to creating rights. … Today’s decision, for example, creates serious questions about religious liberty. Many good and decent people oppose same-sex marriage as a tenet of faith, and their freedom to exercise religion is—unlike the right imagined by the majority—actually spelled out in the Constitution.

Respect for sincere religious conviction has led voters and legislators in every State that has adopted same-sex marriage democratically to include accommodations for dissenting religious practice. The majority’s decision imposing same-sex marriage cannot, of course, create any such accommodations. The majority graciously suggests that religious believers may continue to “advocate” and “teach” their views of marriage. The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to “exercise” religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses.

Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage—when, for example, a religious college provides married student housing only to opposite-sex married couples, or a religious adoption agency declines to place children with same-sex married couples. Indeed, the Solicitor General candidly acknowledged that the tax exemptions of some religious institutions would be in question if they opposed same-sex marriage. There is little doubt that these and similar questions will soon be before this Court. Unfortunately, people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today.

In his dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia argues that

"…the majority’s decision threatens the religious liberty our Nation has long sought to protect."

Justice Clarence Thomas agreed in his dissent:

Although our Constitution provides some protection against such governmental restrictions on religious practices, the People have long elected to afford broader protections than this Court’s constitutional precedents mandate. Had the majority allowed the definition of marriage to be left to the political process—as the Constitution requires—the People could have considered the religious liberty implications of deviating from the traditional definition as part of their deliberative process. Instead, the majority’s decision short-circuits that process, with potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty.

<Read the whole article>

Response: This result has been expected for some time. Four of the justices have chosen to actually write about the possible effects of this decision on religious liberty. If it were not a real possible problem no one would have referred to it all.

Obviously, churches, mosques, and synagogues and their ministry will not be forced to conduct same-sex marriages. Official religious practice in places of worship will continue to be protected. However, if the worship facilities are sometimes ‘rented’ out or use fees are collected for marriage ceremonies, then it might be an issue.

The real problems arise with allied miniseries and religious institutions like hospitals, colleges, and other ministries like adoption agencies. Justice Roberts noted that the tax exemptions of some religious institutions might be affected. Also if federal money is going to a college or university in the form of student loans, student housing might be forced to recognize same-sex couples. These were all issues admitted as possible problems by Obama’s Solicitor General. In addition, since same-sex marriages are now legal all across the country and must be recognized everywhere, all employee benefits including health and life insurance must now reflect that new reality.

Those business owners who provide any kind of marriage related services are now on notice that they will need to provide for same-sex celebrations or incur legal problems in the future. Here’s another occupation or business that might be affected in the future- Lawyers. If a law practice offers representation in divorce cases will Christian attorneys be compelled to offer their services in same-sex divorces? Just a thought.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out in the future. Actually at this point we have no idea what the full ramifications of this decision might be when it comes to religious liberty. We can only speculate. Will the Obama administration or some future administration use this ruling to come against religious institutions in the future? That seems to be the concern of at least three justices today.                *Top

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