Fischer Lies About Denmark Churches and Marriage

You might want to sit down for this one lest you fall over in shock. Bryan Fischer is lying about something. In a column seeking to whip up fear that the government will force churches to perform same-sex weddings, he offers this whopper of a lie about what is going on on Denmark:

When we in the pro-family community argue that such conscience protections for churches one day will be hardly worth the pixels they’re painted with, we’re told we are exaggerating and fear-mongering, and that the concerns we are raising are about things that could never happen here.

Well, the day we prophesied has arrived. Churches in Denmark – and the U.S. will not be far behind – have been ORDERED to perform sodomy-based weddings whether they want to or not.

According to the London Telegraph, a new law passed by the Danish parliament “make(s) it mandatory for all churches to conduct gay marriages.” No options, no exceptions, no choice. Homosexuals are to be married wherever they want, regardless of whose conscience is trampled and whose sanctuary is defiled in the process.

Sarah Jones at the Americans United for Separation of Church and State spots the lie:

While it is certainly true that in Denmark, same-sex couples have a legal right to be married in a church in some cases, Fischer neglects to mention the reason why that is so: Denmark has a state church. The law applies quite specifically to that state church.

“With the legalization of gay marriage, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark [which is the state church], is required to allow same-sex couples to marry in churches,” the Pew Research Center notes in a 2013 explainer on same-sex marriage laws around the world.

It’s hardly a blanket rule: Pew goes on to state that other religious groups are exempt from the law.

Catholic churches, for example, aren’t required to host same-sex marriage ceremonies, a fact the Vatican noted just this week. “For the moment we [the Catholic Church] are not worried,” Niels Messerschmidt, a representative of the Catholic Diocese of Copenhagen, told Vatican Radio.

So not only does Danish law protect the individual conscience rights of clergy in its state church, it imposes nothing on churches that are not affiliated with the state.

So the reality is that it’s America’s separation of church and state — which Fischer does not think should exist — that prevents this from happening. If the state and the church are one, the state can force the church to do such things.

POPULAR AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • colnago80

    Bryan Fischer lies. In other news, fire is hot.

  • roggg

    I’m as pro-marriage equality as the next person, but I don’t know if I’m comfortable supporting a right to sodomy based weddings. They should probably be waiting until the honeymoon at least before that kind of thing goes on.

  • John Pieret

    we are exaggerating and fear-mongering

    The one true thing I’ve heard Fischer utter.

  • D. C. Sessions

    While it would be wonderful if this moved more churches to support their own disestablishment, I suspect that they’re more likely to have a Mormon-style miraculous revelation regarding their sexual doctrines.

  • Larry

    Creeping Danishia law, it’s the new Sharia.

  • vereverum

    So the reality is that it’s America’s separation of church and state — which Fischer does not think should exist — that prevents this from happening. If the state and the church are one, the state can force the church to do such things.

    Not exactly; in Fischer’s vision, the Church is the senior partner and controls the state.

  • busterggi

    Sodomy at wedding? Still better than the Chicken Dance.

  • jeroenmetselaar

    This is something many (wannabe) theocrats forget, theocracy is a double-edged sword. When the state and church are one and the state is a democracy with powers limited by a constitution those limits and that rule by the people go for the church as well.

    This works for meek and liberal religions like the one in Denmark and certainly the CoE because they hardly hold any position anyway*. Would an evangelical be really ready to go this way?

    (Really, tea is more a binding factor in the CoE than Jesus 😀 )

  • matty1

    “sodomy-based weddings”

    I think I’ve seen that video

  • Reginald Selkirk

    O Noez! The State tries to set requirements for the State Church! The horror.

    Here’s a blast from the past: dateline Denmark, 2003

    Parishioners demand return of atheist pastor

  • http://howlandbolton.com richardelguru

    roggg

    I’m sure they would prefer missionary position based weddings.

  • Melvosh

    I don’t know what the stance of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark is, but the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) appears to be headed in the right direction. They happen to be the largest denomination / synod of Lutherans in the country, and they have been one of the leaders in Christian denominations for LGBT rights. They’re not perfect by any means, but they are better than most other Christian denominations. Check out the HRC page on them for more info.

  • http://www.facebook.com/den.wilson d.c.wilson

    This is something many (wannabe) theocrats forget, theocracy is a double-edged sword. When the state and church are one and the state is a democracy with powers limited by a constitution those limits and that rule by the people go for the church as well.

    Theocracy is incompatitible with democracy. You can’t claim that the right to govern comes from both the consent of the people and from on high. Fischer knows this, though he’s usually careful not to say it explicitly.

  • vereverum

    @ jeroenmetsalaar #8

    You are correct but they must not be underestimated. At least one has thought about this, according to his shortwave broadcast, and (1) the rights and privileges of the constitution are only applicable to true believers and, (2) true believers are exempt from the laws because they obey a higher law. I wish I had a copy of the broadcast so I could properly source it.

  • colnago80

    Re Melvosh @ #12

    Interestingly enough, Federal Judge John Jones III is a communicant of the ELCA.

  • noe1951

    “sodomy-based weddings “? I suppose Mr. Fisher only approves of ‘missionary position’ weddings.

  • noe1951

    ^ Must make for an interesting ceremony, if not a crowded church floor.

  • D. C. Sessions

    You can’t claim that the right to govern comes from both the consent of the people and from on high.

    Of course you can. In a Godly Nation, the citizens have already consented to be governed by the Will of God.

  • gingerbaker

    So, I guess then it must be legal for a part-time teacher to teach creationism as science in a public school, because they are only a part-time representative of the state?

    Priests, etc are part-time representatives of the state when they act as officiants to a marriage ceremony which also fulfills the requirements a civil marriage ceremony. They are proxy government clerks who happen to be not in a civil office, but in a church.

    They ASKED to be given this role, so they could act as a one-stop shopping center for marriage. If they don’t want the responsibilities of acting as an agent of the court, then they should lose the role. Or they should perform same sex marriages in the church – which no one really wants.

    But they can’t have it both ways.

  • vmanis1

    `Sodomy-based marriage’ is a standard term in anti-marriage-equality lingo. Its purpose is to denigrate same-sex marriages as being inferior because they are focused only on sex, rather than on the higher purposes of heterosexual marriages such as love, procreation, and income-tax reduction. It’s a standard hater tactic, Hitler called regularly Jews `germs’, ‘viruses’, and `pests’, for example. If you make the target of your venom subhuman, then s/he can quite reasonably be denied the rights and respect that humans deserve.

    I would call Mr Fischer’s radio program `filth-based perversion’, but that would do a terrible injustice to filth.

  • dingojack

    gingerbaker – “So, I guess then it must be legal for a part-time teacher to teach creationism as science in a public school…”

    Yes, but only part of the time (the part not involving students).

    😉 Dingo

  • http://quodlibet-sarah.blogspot.com/ Quodlibet

    “pro-family ”

    .

    I’m so sick of that phrase as used by Fischer and his ilk to define marriage and family very narrowly and to deny to so many people the right to form families with the ones they love. Hmph. It seems to me that laws and judicial rulings supporting marriage equality are exemplars of “pro-family” policies, and anything that restricts the formation of families is anti-family.

    .

    Why does Fischer hate families?!

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

    Bryan Fischer is not lying. We got married in Denmark, and now we’re both dudes. I know!

  • eric

    Priests, etc are part-time representatives of the state when they act as officiants to a marriage ceremony which also fulfills the requirements a civil marriage ceremony. They are proxy government clerks who happen to be not in a civil office, but in a church.

    If I buy a licence to fish, does that make me a part-time representative of the state when I go out fishing? Does that mean people can sue me if I only decide to take my friends out on my boat, and don’t use some more neutral criteria for filling boat seats?

    ***

    I don’t see it exactly your way. If a celebrant hangs out a shingle and operates a marriage business, then I could see your point. But most priests don’t become priests in order to be able to marry; that’s simply a legal ability the government has granted to them. Their right to free expression (including not performing a religious ceremony on people their religion says don’t qualify for the ceremony) should not be compromised merely by taking vows or marrying congregants. So I’d support your argument for operations like a Vegas Casino’s Wedding Chapel, but not for the local priest who typically performs a marriage every year or two for his/her congregants.

    IMO the ‘legal celebrant’ requirement is stupid. States that have such laws should either (i) just require the clerk’s signature, or if they’re really concerned about getting some second opinion about the legality of the union, (ii) require a second signature based on secular qualification, like notary public. However, for the states that have such laws, I think it is a reasonable compromise to be very liberal/lax about handing out ‘legal celebrant’ status, and then allowing those celebrants to exercise at will. As long as Joe Wiccan or Jane Atheist can also get celebrant status by mailing in a form, I have little problem with allowing celebrants to pick their clientele.

    Now if a hard test case came up, I’d likely support your position. So if it ever comes to be that a couple must legally use a celebrant, and there is only one legal celebrant in town (or all celebrants belong to the same sect), and the town won’t qualify anyone else/anyone from a different sect as a celebrant, and that celebrant or that sect doesn’t do gay marriages, then yes obviously that’s a serious rights issue and the law needs to come down on the side of equal access. But right now, I see your position more like the fishing licence case I began this post with: getting a government-approved licence to do something does not always make you a representative of the government when you do it.

  • Synfandel

    vmanis1 wrote, “…rather than on the higher purposes of heterosexual marriages such as love, procreation, and income-tax reduction.”

    I’ve had a difficult day. Thank you for the belly laugh.

  • gingerbaker

    Priests don’t issue marriage licenses.

    You still have to get those at City Hall. Priests are conferring the civil benefits of marriage, just exactly as does a clerk in City Hall if you get married there. They are agents of the government for that particular application pure and simple, the way I see it anyhow.

    If you could get a fishing license at church, issued by a priest with the full authorization of the government, that also would make the priest an agent of the government. Using a license does not make you an agent of the government, issuing it does, so I do not get your analogy, sorry. :)

    What I am trying to do here is to untangle the idea of civil marriage and all its civil benefits, from the church ceremony which is NOT civil marriage, it is a religious rite of matrimony or religious ‘marriage’. The State has offered to priests, etc the privilege and responsibility of having their rite also fulfill the ceremony of civil marriage normally performed at City Hall.

    Marriage is a secular instrument. The meaning of the word “marriage” has been usurped by churches to a large degree and the meaning of the term has become confused. I can’t see how one can get around the fact that priests are agents of the government, though, and I think that has inescapable implications as far as constitutional obligations. I think American churches which do not support same-sex marriages need to get out of the secular marriage business.

  • howardhershey

    I am sure that Fischer would like to see church-state involvement more like that in Saudi Arabia or ISIL-controlled areas of Iraq than like the state churches of Northern Europe where the state in dominant..

  • D. C. Sessions

    If you could get a fishing license at church, issued by a priest with the full authorization of the government, that also would make the priest an agent of the government.

    Try “voter registration.” The analogy is a bit closer than fishing licenses.

  • tsig

    You’d need a little organization at this sodomy based wedding:

    wanking to the left, regular sex to the right and sodomy taking up the rear

  • jeroenmetselaar

    I figured out why this situation in the US is so unique: The US (may be)(is) the only nation with a clear separation between church and state and no state church that also does not have a separate civil marriage.

    This makes Gingerbaker in #19 correct, US priests officiating a marriage are carrying out a service that in (most) other countries is reserved to government. That makes them civil servants. In DK and UK this is recognized as they are priests of a state church, in the US this creates tension because they are supposed to be separated and free from the very government they are representing.

    The solution would be the French Napoleonic approach: Civil marriages conducted by the (municipal) government followed by optional religious ceremonies that have no legal standing. …..or a state church, you choose.

  • dingojack

    Eric – Bzzzzt. Analogy fail.

    If you are granted a licence to do something, you’re agreeing to follow the previously stated rules* in exchange for certain agreed privileges.

    If the state is the body issuing the licence, and it says ‘equal access to all’ then one should:

    a) follow the state’s rules, or

    b) don’t do that activity, and/or

    c) change the rules by either legal and/or legislative intervention.

    Simple really.

    Dingo

    ——–

    * does your fishing licence restrict who you can take on fishing trips?

    Somehow this came to mind:

    “You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, or to drive a car – hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they’ll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father”.

  • Nick Gotts

    In DK and UK this is recognized as they are priests of a state church – jeroenmetselaar@30

    In the UK the religious ceremony has no legal force: a couple are legally married when, and only when, they and two witnesses sign the marriage register. Also, at least in England, the Anglican Church is the only one legally forbidden from performing same-sex marriages (I’m not sure about the rest of the UK, where the Anglican Church is not established).