WND Columnist Spreads Baseless Paranoia

Michael Brown, a columnist for the Worldnetdaily, asks an ominous question: Will churches be forced to perform same-sex weddings? The answer is simple: No. Not in the United States, certainly. But he thinks people trying in other countries to force that applies here without grasping the rather obvious difference:

In light of all this, is it really so far-fetched to imagine that the day could come when churches in America would be required to perform same-sex “marriages” or face serious penalties, beginning with the loss of their tax-exempt status?

Last August, the Christian Institute in England announced that a millionaire homosexual couple “launched a legal challenge to the right of churches to opt out of gay weddings.”

As explained by Barrie Drewitt-Barlow, one of the two homosexual men, “We’ve launched a challenge to the government’s decision to allow some religious groups to opt out of marrying same-sex couples.

“We feel we have the right as parishioners in our village to utilize the church we attend to get married.”

He added, “The only way forward for us now is to make a challenge in the courts against the church.

“It is a shame that we are forced to take Christians into a court to get them to recognize us.”

What is striking about their lawsuit is that in July 2013, England and Wales legalized same-sex “marriage,” and there were plenty of churches that would have gladly performed the ceremony for this couple.

But, as pointed out by Greg Campbell on the Tea Party News Network, “Barrie Drewitt-Barlow and his partner Tony, rather than request a ceremony from a church that would recognize their union, have opted to take the church they regularly attend to court in order to force them to officiate the wedding.”

As Campbell noted, “As Western culture debates the recognition of same-sex marriages, religious groups who stand opposed to gay marriage are routinely steamrolled by governments who have decidedly picked a side in this debate.”

Precisely so.

And so, in Denmark, a homosexual couple can go to any state church and demand that the clergy perform their “wedding” ceremony (the vast majority of Danes belong to the Lutheran Church, which is the state church, even though only a small percentage of Danes are actively involved in the church)…

Things have gotten to the point that, throughout our country, Christian attorneys are working day and night to get laws passed that will exempt churches from having to perform same-sex “marriage” ceremonies. They can see the handwriting on the wall. In fact, that handwriting is practically shouting at us to get our attention.

Nonsense. No American attorney is “working day and night” to prevent churches from being forced to perform or host same-sex weddings. There is no possibility of this happening that is even remotely possible, nor is there anyone who thinks it should happen that I am aware of. He missed the rather obvious difference between the two countries he cites and the United States: They have established churches. They don’t have separation of church and state, as we do. If the state and the church are the same and the state cannot discriminate, the church can’t either.

In America, on the other hand, churches are exempted from all anti-discrimination legislation. Has any church ever been forced to perform an interracial or inter-religious marriage? Of course not. And yet, unlike sexual orientation, discrimination on the basis of race or religious is explicitly forbidden by federal law. And yet not a single church has ever had to comply with such restrictions because all churches are exempted from anti-discrimination laws.

There are, in fact, multiple layers of laws that would prevent this from happening, starting with the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. And the ministerial exception, one of the most firmly established principles in American jurisprudence. And the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and state-level versions of it. There isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that any church in this country will ever be forced to perform a same-sex wedding. And anyone who says otherwise is either a rank ignoramus or a demagogue selling paranoia for profit.

POPULAR AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • jameshanley

    He also seems to miss out on the relevance of the Danish churches being state churches. The state shouldn’t be discriminating against anyone. Yet another reason why Christians should themselves reject the idea of a state church.

  • jedibear

    In other news, today is Saturday.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    As Campbell noted, “As Western culture debates the recognition of same-sex marriages, religious groups who stand opposed to gay marriage are routinely steamrolled by governments who have decidedly picked a side in this debate.”

    My point exactly. What the government should do is not pick a side at all, instead letting the traditional status quo of no HomoMarriage continue on forever, which isn’t picking a side even though it really looks like it is picking a side. Which it’s not.

  • gshelley

    It’s sort of a church state separation thing, but in the opposite way. The CofE is prohibited by law from performing same sex weddings.

    I don’t know if the challenge in this case is to overturn the ban so that it is up to the church to decide, or if he is trying to force the church to perform marriages, which seems unlikely to succeed.

  • dingojack

    WND Columnist Spreads Baseless Paranoia .

    And in other news, water discovered to be wet. Film at 11. @@

    Dingo

  • steve oberski

    Poor Michael Brown has no need to worry.

    xtian churchs will only be forced to perform gay marriages in FEMA death camps.

  • Trebuchet

    Posts 2 and 6 beat me to it. I sad.

  • Chiroptera

    Well, in my opinion (personal opinion of ethics, not an interpretation of the law), of the state requires that a marriage be solemnized by some official to be legally valid (as opposed to be legally in force the moment the papers are signed by the county clerk), then no one authorized by the state to perform the solemnization should be allowed to discriminate for any reason, religious or otherwise, even if there are other options available to the couple.

    But then, I’ve always felt that having the papers signed in front of the county clerk or notary public should be all that is required for a valid marriage; “solemnization” should be an entirely personal matter between the couple and the religious or social groups to which the couple belong.

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    What gets lost in all of this nonsense is that the bigots are declaring themselves persecuted if something gets in the way of them persecuting others. Legal issues aside, the hypocrisy is really too much.

  • matty1

    I managed to find a report on the actual case

    The relevant portion to me is:

    “Under Canon Law everyone has the right to use their local church to get married.”

    If we combine this with things that have already been pointed out by gshelly @4 and a few other points* I see the issue as this.

    – The church of England is a state church with a legal obligation to marry any couple where at least one of them lives in the parish.

    – This means that while it is a church in respect of weddings the vicar is acting more like a public official carrying out a duty imposed on her by law.

    – The church of England is forbidden by law from carrying out same sex weddings.

    – Same sex marriage is legal in England and Wales and the European Court of Human Rights has found that Registrars (the officiant in a civil ceremony) acting for the state cannot refuse to carry out a wedding on the grounds of their religious beliefs.

    – This means we have an apparent contradiction in the law where one set of public officials are required to marry any couple regardless of gender and another set of effectively public officials are required to marry any couple except same sex couples.

    Now personally I would prefer to fix this by ending establishment but while the church not only can but must act as an agent of the state it seems only right that it be held to the same standard as other public officials.

    *I can get links for these if requested, just didn’t want to put too many in one post and send it into a black hole.

  • ttch

    Michael Brown asked the wrong question. It shouldn’t be “Will churches be forced to perform same-sex weddings?” but “When will churches be forced to perform same-sex weddings?” It’s gotta be phrased like a fait accompli unless you send money now!!

  • matty1
  • cptdoom

    Perhaps someone should tell Mr. Brown that has a non-Mormon, he is actually barred from even attending a wedding in a Mormon temple, never mind being allowed to be married in one – and no law can force the Mormons to change this practice. The First Amendment is pretty strong on the whole “religious freedom” thing.

  • Menyambal

    I am an attorney working day and night to prevent this impossible thing from ever happening. Send me lots and lots of money.

    The county clerk gave us the papers, but only a few people are authorized to officially sign off on the marriage, which is odd, now that I think. I guess it is swearing an oath, and it needs an official administrator … kinda like a notary public for some things. Anyhow, the Justice of the Peace was booked up, which implies a whole lot of non-church marriages. We got a preacher from the church of one of our moms, and had a little ceremony, not in a church.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Menyambal “We got a preacher from the church of one of our moms, and had a little ceremony, not in a church.”

    Small world. I just got back from a wedding at the Church of One of Our Moms.

  • garnetstar

    There was a story recently about a Christian church in the south that held that interracial marriage is wrong. A black man and white woman who were both members their congregation wanted to be married, but the church refused.

    And, guess what happened: no federal gestapo descended to arrest the ministers or force them to perform the ceremony or burn the church to the ground. Nothing at all happened. But then, you already knew that: someone should tell Brown and his Christian lawyers.

    But, I do hope that the couple found themselves another church.

  • howardhershey

    “And anyone who says otherwise is either a rank ignoramus or a demagogue selling paranoia for profit.”

    Ed. Ed. Ed. Those are clearly not mutually exclusive possibilities. I could easily replace the “or” with an “and”.

  • Pen

    As others have said, we the taxpayers fund the CofE ergo it belongs to us It’s right that we can get married in it when gay if we choose.

  • alanuk

    It is odd that you can have a law that says that you can break another law if you have no rational reason for doing so.

  • lorn

    As much as I like the visual of a fundie preacher being wheeled out in a chair and forced to perform a gay marriage by semi-nude maids of honor rubbing their bodies on him I doubt any gay couples would want him present.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1123482040 lewisthomason

    But if he didn’t try to stir up the right wing fun dies he wouldn’t get articles published in WND. In all probability he knows full well that what he wrote is a total crock.

  • John Pieret

    WND Columnist Spreads Baseless Paranoia

    Ans is, no doubt, up for a bonus … since, after all, that is his job.

  • comfychair

    You don’t have to be smart to succeed, just smarter than your victims.

  • smrnda

    Yeah, the difference that these are state churches (a pretty obvious difference) seems lost on the guy. I think a lot of bright kids in middle school would know that some European nations still have state churches which, in exchange for the privilege, are also required to submit to government interference.

  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie

    “Last August, the Christian Institute in England announced that a millionaire homosexual couple “launched a legal challenge to the right of churches to opt out of gay weddings.””

    Wait, what? Is the GOP aware that there are plutohomos in their midst? Why if I was a KKKBFJ*, I’d be spittin’ mad. I’d be so pissed off that I would just sell off all of my property, liquidate my financial paper and give it all to the worthy poor in imitation of OUR LORD and CRE—. Whoa, whoa–sorry, I lost my shit for just a moment there. Let’s go punch some fags; that’ll make me feel much better.

    * KKKristianist Billionaire For Jesus

  • gingerbaker

    Sorry, but you are all wrong and the plaintiff has a case, even in the U.S. The priest or minister is indeed acting in his capacity as a government official when a ‘marriage’ can be legally administered in a church by a church official and there is no further need for a secular civil procedure. He has duties to attend to to ensure that marriage is allowed and recorded by civil law and procedure.

    The churches ASKED for this power and the government allows it to them. A church marriage has every single legal and administrative power of a civil marriage – it completely replaces it, not simply augments it. This is absolutely clear – why would there be any question that a church official performing a marriage ceremony is not acting as, and with the legal imprimatur of, the State?

    The priest or minister is also doing something else at a marriage – he is giving that union the religious imprimatur of sanctity. He or she is performing a prescribed and specific religious rite wholly separate from his role as a government agent. In the Catholic church, he is administering the Holy Sacrament of Matrimony as well as conferring a legal civil marriage. One stop shopping, but two completely separate outcomes.

    If churches do not wish to be compelled to follow civil rights procedures they must stop acting as officers of the court. In other words, they may only perform the religious right of matrimony (or whatever each sect wants to call their religious ceremony) and should no longer be simultaneously acting as a civil servant conferring a certificate of civil marriage. That function must be performed by either 1) a civil office or, 2) by a church official who abides by state and Federal civil rights procedures. Which means, yeah, he would be fo5rced to administer marriages to anyone who has a civil right to have one.

  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie

    “Which means, yeah, he would be fo5rced to administer marriages to anyone who has a civil right to have one.”

    Ah, I love the smell of schadenfreude in the morning, it reminds me that JESUS died for THEIR sins, not mine (mine aren’t all that).