LA Church Panics, Boots AA Group to Stop Gay Weddings

I think it’s safe to say that the Westwood Baptist Church in Keithville, Louisiana isn’t led by a constitutional attorney. They just booted an Alcoholics Anonymous group out of the church on the mistaken belief that if they didn’t, they would be forced to perform gay weddings.

In a letter signed by the pastor and minister of Westwood Baptist Church, the AA group was informed that the church facility will no longer be available to their organization beginning October 1, 2014.

The AA group had been holding their weekly meetings at the church for more than 5 years.

“As I am sure you are aware, God’s church, his written word, and its values and principles have come under a constant and aggressive attack from the homosexual and lesbian community,” the letter begins, before going on to say that “Churches and Christian businesses alike, across our nation, are being forced, by our legal system, to accommodate these groups in the use of their buildings/facilities to perform marriage ceremonies, receptions, etc.” due to a court decision they say was based on the fact the churches and business were accepting and accommodating other public entities, and therefore must also accommodate the homosexual and lesbian community.”

Uh, no. Utter nonsense. A church is not, for legal purposes, a Christian-owned business. The businesses they refer to were violating state anti-discrimination laws, from which churches are completely exempt. In fact, there are multiple layers of statutory exemptions (the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, state RFRAs, etc) and many court rulings that establish what is called the ministerial exception. Churches and businesses are treated completely differently in this regard. No church will ever be forced to perform a gay wedding, just as none has ever been forced to perform an interracial or interreligious one.

The pastor of the church admits that he did in fact approve of the letter, but the church says that they were only acting on the advisement of an article that was published in the Louisiana Baptist Church Message that gave suggestions for safeguarding against homosexual weddings.

Well there’s your problem. If you’d consulted with a lawyer rather than a church bulletin, you’d know this is all nonsense.

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  • eric

    A church is not, for legal purposes, a Christian-owned business. The businesses they refer to were violating state anti-discrimination laws, from which churches are completely exempt.

    I’d say that depends on how they act; the more for-profit business functions they do, the more those laws should apply to them. If, for example, they rent their space out for a fee to a wide variety of groups for a wide variety of purposes, then yes they should be required to rent the space out to gay groups, interracial groups, and so on without discrimination. OTOH if they allow other Christian or nominally theistic groups (like AA) to use their space for free, that’s obviously not a for-profit practice and should not trigger business non-discrimination laws.

    There’s going to be a lot of gray areas and I think most regular churches will never be required to perform such marriages. But I could definitely see how things like for-profit wedding chapels could be forced through public accommodation laws to marry gay couples. If you’re offering a service for a fee, the fact that that service is “marriage” should not exempt you from the general laws governing services provided for fees.

  • Erp

    Actually most churches probably do charge a fee for marriages; however, they also usually have some specific and strict prerequisites about religion which stops them from being a public accommodation.

    However if they rent out the meeting hall to the general public for wedding receptions (perhaps to provide income for the church) then they might be required to rent for a wedding reception for a same sex couple depending on the state.

  • kantalope

    They can’t tell if it is a church or a for profit business….which raises some questions.

  • Artor

    Dumbfucks gotta be dumbfucks.

  • Randomfactor

    Someone probably garbled the real situation: If they RENT their facility out to any public group, they can’t deny access to any other including a gay wedding RECEPTION.

    I don’t think it applies to voluntary, non-monetary agreements though

  • Pierce R. Butler

    If you’d consulted with a lawyer rather than a church bulletin…

    Only if they picked a lawyer not named Mat, or Larry, or Orly, or …

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

    …an article that was published in the Louisiana Baptist Church Message that gave suggestions for safeguarding against homosexual weddings.

    They didn’t even read the article. I did. To keep Gays away, make a lot of noise by banging pots and pans, wear bulky clothing (if possible) to appear larger, and to not look in their eyes.

  • kantalope

    And a necklace of garlic cloves, don’t forget that part Modus.

  • John Pieret

    Modus:

    You forgot the most important part: Make sure you can outrun at least one person in your group.

  • teawithbertrand

    “…suggestions for safeguarding against homosexual weddings.”

    I would love to read that article. Wait…No. Not really.

  • http://festeringscabofrealityblogspot.com fifthdentist

    If you can’t believe everything you read in a Louisiana Baptist Church publication, who can you believe?

  • moarscienceplz

    This makes perfect sense. Gays are like vampires, they can’t cross a threshold until they have been invited in at least one time. So if any of those AA people were gays, the invitation extended to them would allow them to turn to vapor and seep into the church to hold naked gay sex weddings any time you turn your back.

  • freemage

    I’m gonna point out the rotting elephant carcass in the room.

    Let’s assume, just for a fraction of a moment, that these nitwits were right about the law–that letting unaffiliated groups use your church for gatherings automatically meant you could, in theory, be forced to play host to a gay marriage, complete with a leather-daddy preacher and a finale of, “You may now sodomize the other groom.”

    This places the church in the terrible position of choosing between helping actual suffering people (or at least, seeming to–I retain a bit of skepticism about the effaciousness of AA, but presumably these folks are all about the “Higher Power” bullshit), or allowing this ceremony in their building.

    And what do they choose? Hatred and exclusion, every fucking time.

  • Chiroptera

    freemage, #13:

    I was about to make this very same point. It is evidently more important that this church shows how much they despise gay people than it is that they provide aid and comfort to people who need it.

  • Michael Heath

    Ed writes:

    No church will ever be forced to perform a gay wedding, just as none has ever been forced to perform an interracial or interreligious one.

    Well I’m in the camp that hopes some day churches will have to choose between their tax exempt status or continuing to discriminate and abuse gay people and gay children respectively.

  • Michael Heath

    freemage writes:

    And what do they choose? Hatred and exclusion, every fucking time.

    This sort of relentless behavior was one of the most disheartening things growing up as a natural optimist in a fundie environment. It’s constant lies and hate over truth and love. Yet they claim the latter and claim it distinguishes them from their religious and political foes. Psychological projection remains rampant down in Fundieland.

    (H/T to Bruce Springsteen’s Jungleland.)