Christian Leaders to Call for Vague, Unspecified Civil Disobedience

For months, Christian right leaders have been demanding that Christians engage in civil disobedience over same-sex marriage and now a group of very prominent leaders are now preparing a statement doing so again. What has still never been defined is what exactly they plan to do, or could do, that wouldn’t already be allowed.

A team of prominent Christian leaders is preparing a statement that will inform the public – including justices on the U.S. Supreme Court – that they will engage in civil disobedience rather that follow a ruling that establishes homosexual “marriage” across the United States.

Among those leading the charge is James Dobson of Family Talk Radio, Rick Scarborough of Vision America Action, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel and James Robison of Life Today, whose brand new publication called The Stream reported on a recent telephone conference call discussing the issue.

Stream Executive Editor Jay Richards told WND that there were probably 20 other Christian leaders on the call, and members of Congress have expressed an interest in the plan, which reportedly will make its goal public in the next few days with a statement regarding marriage and the U.S. Supreme Court.

However, Scarborough wasted no time in an interview with WND explaining what is, and is not, going to happen.

“We’re taking a very adamant stand,” he said. “If the court declares same-sex ‘marriage’ to be on the same par as a civil right, that’s a bridge too far. We won’t obey. We’ll go to jail.”

Yes, yes, we’ve heard that before. But what are you actually doing to do that would send you to jail? Refuse to perform same-sex marriages? No one will care. Pastors are protected on multiple levels in this regard. No pastor will ever be required to perform a same-sex wedding. So what does that leave? Businesses that refuse to serve gay people or gay weddings will be breaking the law in some states, but there are no jail terms in the enforcement of those laws, only fines.

Along the way, Mat Staver, the dumbest lawyer in America not named Larry Klayman, tells a rather blatant lie:

Staver, whose legal organization has played a key role in the state Supreme Court decision in Alabama to affirm traditional marriage and prevent state judges from following a federal court ruling to impose “gay marriage,” warned Christians of what he sees coming.

“Immediately, when elevated to that level of a constitutionally protected category, [same-sex marriage] is given the same status as race. What you cannot legally do with respect to race, you will not be able to do legally with respect to same-sex unions and sexual immorality,” he said.

“Think of race in the context of religious expression or conscience expression and replace it with sexual immorality, transsexualism or so-called gender identity. For example, churches and other religious organizations are exempt from the religious discrimination provisions of federal, state or local nondiscrimination laws. But they are not exempted from the race provisions. So Catholics can hire Catholics, and Baptists can hire Baptists, but they cannot hire only ‘white’ Catholics or only ‘white’ Baptists. They would face significant penalties. You can’t have separate restrooms or drinking fountains for people of a different color. If a church did that they would be liable for a significant amount of damages because of discrimination on the basis of race.

“Same-sex marriage or laws including sexual orientation or gender identity as a non-discrimination category directly impact religious organizations and churches. If a man wants to use the women’s restroom and a church official told him he could not, then that act would be like telling people of color they cannot use the ‘white only’ restroom. You will also have the same issues with tax exemption over sexual preference as you have now over race,” he said.

All nonsense. The same-sex marriage case, even if it goes the right way, will not mean that sexual orientation will be “elevated to that level of a constitutionally protected category” or that sexual orientation “is given the same status as race.” Any laws affecting race are analyzed under strict scrutiny. The Supreme Court has always considered cases involving gay rights under the lowest standard of review, the rational basis test. Even if they were to announce a new standard in the current case (and I hope they do), it would only be to heightened or intermediate scrutiny, which applies to cases involving gender currently, not to strict scrutiny.

And no, that does not mean that a church would be forced to hire gay person, just like churches aren’t forced to hire women as ministers. Nor does it mean that churches would be forced to perform same-sex weddings, just as they aren’t forced to perform interracial or interreligious weddings. The anti-discrimination provisions on public accommodations do not apply to churches and it does not force a church to violate its religious doctrines. Staver is being a demagogue, lying to make people afraid of a mythical future that does not and will not exist.

And again, nowhere in this article does it say exactly what kind of civil disobedience they plan to engage in as part of their “adamant stand” against marriage equality. Sit-ins at a county courthouse? Picketing outside gay bars? Interrupting same-sex weddings? I’d actually love to see that, as it would backfire on them in a huge way.

POPULAR AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    I can’t, …

    …as a manager at a public firm providing a commercial service who avails itself of the legal benefits of incorporation for the price of obeying certain regulations on the conduct of that company, …

    …refuse to hire an entire “sexual immorality” of people?

    To what is this world coming, Mat Staver? To what?

  • Jared James

    In protest of equal rights, I propose all straight white Christianists immediately marry a person of the same sex, then file for divorce. That’ll show those courts!

  • John Pieret

    Well, they won’t be required to hire gays as ministers but they might be required to hire qualified gay people as landscapers, cooks and other non-ministerial positions. Another great fear they have is the possibility of having to allow transgenders use church bathrooms or make some accommodation for them. And, of course they want exemptions for judges, clerks and wedding service businesses to refuse to perform services for gay weddings. None of those will be a significant burden on the churches and won’t lead to anyone going to jail (unless they engage in contempt of court by refusing to obey lawful orders, and even there it is unlikely).

    But drama queens gotta drama.

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    Remember: every joint you smoke is civil disobedience!!! If you go over the speed limit, you are striking a blow for freedom!!!!

  • Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    The Supreme Court has always considered cases involving gay rights under the lowest standard of review, the rational basis test.

    Um, yeah. Sort of. SCOTUS had, in the past, used rational basis. In cases from Romer forward, SCOTUS only nominally uses traditional rational basis while practicing the “rational basis” of Reed v Reed: the first SCTOUS case to actually take any issue at all with treating women as second class citizens, AKA “rational basis with teeth” or “rational basis with bite”.

    Even if they were to announce a new standard in the current case (and I hope they do), it would only be to heightened or intermediate scrutiny, which applies to cases involving gender currently, not to strict scrutiny.

    Yes. Very true, except for the smallest of quibbles – a clarification, even, not a disagreement at all, Ed:

    to “announce” the new standard is at issue, not “applying” the new standard. The importance of the announcement would be in creating a mandate for lower courts to apply a known body of law different from rational basis. Currently when the Supremes apply heightened/intermediate scrutiny while calling it rational basis, they’re pulling a Bush v Gore:

    sure, we’re issuing a ruling, and sure we’re applying a specific standard or argument. But we don’t want you actually following our example! Heavens, no! Do as I say, not as I do.

    Declaring rational basis an inappropriate standard would be an act of no small legal import for all the queers who have their cases heard by conservative judges across the country

    …and for all the queers employed by or giving their matronage to a business who is told by counsel that they are expected to comply with the eventual rulings compatible with heightened scrutiny but not rational basis.

  • raven

    I also don’t see what they are going to civilly disobey either.

    Not get gay married?

    This is going to be amusing for a few minutes and that is about it.

    This is why they failed in the first place. Who someone is married to is none of their business and doesn’t effect them in the least.

  • Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @Jared James

    n protest of equal rights, I propose all straight white Christianists immediately marry a person of the same sex, then file for divorce. That’ll show those courts!

    Yeah, you Christians: put your money where your mouth is: marry someone you don’t love and couldn’t possibly be attracted to! After social expectations compel you to have just enough sex to have a kid or three, divorce when the kids are old enough to understand that one parent is slinking off because it was too much of a trial to live in a marriage that everyone presumes involves love when, in fact, it was all about social statement.

    I hear that more and more, that’s a neglected traditional marriage practice these days.

  • Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @raven:

    Who someone is married to is none of their business and doesn’t effect them in the least.

    Well, it’s true that it doesn’t effect them. But lots and lots of people are effected by individuals’ choice of marriage partner every day.

    =======

    apparently I can’t leave this thread well enough alone.

  • raven

    Christian Leaders to Call for Vague, Unspecified Civil Disobedience

    Although this is a great idea. For seculars, atheists, and normal people.

    Fundie xians never, ever miss a chance to demonstrate the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of their religion. And as many have noticed, as their religion dies, they are getting more vicious. The cornered rat syndrome.

    The uglier and more rabid they get, the more atheists and Nones they make.

    PS Freethoughtblogs could give an award every year. To the xian leader who made the most new atheists by doing or saying something horrible and malevolent.

  • Sastra

    Christian Leaders to Call for Vague, Unspecified Civil Disobedience

    Well, it could be that they’re taking lessons from their more theologically liberal peers. Maybe they’re going to protest gay marriage by committing acts of transcendent mystery between the ontological poles of rational dichotomy as a sacred expression and realization of the creative transformation of Being (being.)

    That could get very ugly … in a vague, unspecified way, of course.

  • briandavis

    Picketing outside gay bars?

    I suggest they chant, “HELL NO! WE WON’T BLOW!”

  • roggg

    I’m all in favour of bigots publicly outing themselves, and I’m all in favour of people who are unwilling to perform their duties as public servants making it known so that they can be replaced with people who take the public trust more seriously. I dont see the downside here.

  • John Pieret

    Hey! Mat Staver has finally told us what their civil disobedience will be about:

    In 2004, same-sex “marriage” came to Massachusetts. Contrary to the claim that such laws would usher in an age of “tolerance,” the law immediately became a legal club to beat unwilling participants. Catholic charities bravely refused to place orphans in same-sex homes, because it was contrary to their mission.

    Unfortunately, they stopped doing adoptions in the state. This cannot be our precedent. What they should have done is to say, “We are called to place orphans in homes with moms and dads. We will not voluntarily surrender our calling.” Massachusetts might have used force to stop Catholic charities anyway, just as lone florists and bakers are being driven to bankruptcy in other states. But what would happen if, instead of quiet retreat, many thousands of individuals, agencies, charities, churches and schools all came together, prepared, prayed and peacefully refused to countenance a Supreme Court decision that violates not only our highest legal document, but the laws of Nature and Nature’s God?

    http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/religious-right-leader-calls-mass-civil-disobedience-fight-gay-marriage

    Okay … so they are going to continue to perform charity work but without getting government money that depends on their using that money in a non-discriminatory way. In short, they are going to refuse government money. And they expect to be beaten up by cops trying to force government funds on them and carted off to jail for saying “No, no … we won’t take it!”

    Uh, huh!

    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    BTW, the real story of what happened with Catholic Charities:

    http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2013/05/06/1966821/newt-gingrich-marriage-equality-outlawed-catholic-doctrine-in-massachusetts/

  • D. C. Sessions

    Yeah, you Christians: put your money where your mouth is: marry someone you don’t love and couldn’t possibly be attracted to!

    To be fair, that’s exactly what they expect for half of the population already.

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

    Allow me:

    Civil disobedience = We will bombard all of our mailing lists with hysterical pleas to send us more money.

  • busterggi

    Wait a minute – don’t these same folks say their god will come back & take care of everything?

    Its as if they don’t really believe that.

  • Al Dente

    Christian Leaders to Call for Vague, Unspecified Civil Disobedience

    I’m surprised nobody thought of Father Ted’s act of vague, unspecified civil disobedience: Down with this sort of thing.

  • John Hinkle

    I think what they mean by “protest” is “raise more money.”

  • Nomad

    Could someone give me a quick overview of the nature of the exemptions religious organizations get that allows them to discriminate and to what degree?

    John Pieret says that the exemption only applies to ministerial positions, so that, in his example, they couldn’t discriminate against a qualified gay gardener in a place with protection against discrimination on the basis of sexuality.

    But I thought it was much broader then that. I’m thinking of the AIG Ark Park tax break situation, where they lost their tax benefits because they advertised for a position for the park in which they explicitly discriminated on the basis of religion. The issue at the heart of that situation didn’t seem to be whether the position was ministerial, but merely whether it was with the non-profit creationism museum or the for-profit Ark Park advertising for the position.

    Are there multiple tiers of discrimination exemptions? For instance, religion at the level of non-profit, and race at the ministerial level?

  • Hoosier X

    they won’t be required to hire gays as ministers but they might be required to hire qualified gay people as landscapers, cooks and other non-ministerial positions.

    I’m still looking for the part of the bible where it says you can’t hire homosexuals to tend your lawn. Is it in Leviticus? Right next to the part where it says you can’t bake a cake for a gay wedding?

  • Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    John Pieret says that the exemption only applies to ministerial positions

    Although I’m not sure, and I can’t quite access the name of the case that I’m half-remembering, but I’m certain that “ministerial” isn’t narrowly tailored to people whose jobs are those of actual ministers. Persons who would have responsibility for doing something important to communicating the ministerial message of a religious org would also fall under the exemption.

    You’ll have to ask someone who really knows, but as I understand it a publications editor might be a position that qualifies (depending on facts) presuming that the publications are reproducing the religious message of the organization. Part of the job, after all, might be to make sure that the content accurately reflects the spirit of the ministerial message and mission. This is true (well, can be true, depending on facts) even of someone with no formal study of any religion and no duties that actually interact face to face with anyone – no public speaking, no private comfort.

    That sort of thing. I could go to ILL or even wikipedia, but you can do that yourself.

  • llewelly

    James Dobson is also an avid promoter of “pulpit freedom sunday” .

    So perhaps the plan is to engage in such outrageous promotion of Republican politicians from the pulpit, that the IRS finally does something, and then, refuse to pay the IRS until they put people in prison.

    Somewhat like how Ken Ham went to prison for Christ.

  • dingojack

    briandavis (#11) –

    BART SIMPSON: Oh man — this both sucks AND blows!

    :) Dingo

  • grumpyoldfart

    John Hinkle @ #18

    I think what they mean by “protest” is “raise more money.”

    I think you nailed it.

  • John Pieret

    Nomad @19; Hoosier @ 20; Crip Dyke @ 21:

    First of all, it depends on the local law. Not all anti-discrimination laws include sexual orientation. If not, there is (generally speaking) no requirement to hire or retain LGBT employees. If it is included, then churches can be required (depending on the local law, which can have broader or narrower exemptions for churches) to hire “non-ministerial” personnel on an equal basis. Crip Dyke is right, “ministerial” employees can be much broader than just pastors … they can include teachers and anyone else who has a role in purveying “religious doctrine.” That can get factually quite complicated.

    On the other hand, Nomad, the AiG situation was that they advertised for an animatronics technician but insisted on a an agreement to AiG’s statement of faith. It’s hard to see how rigging a robot of Noah to somehow deal with tons of shit requires a belief it can be done.

    The bottom line is that no church will be required to take a doctrinal position that it has to accept LGBT people as congregants or gay marriage as a concept. The very most they will ever be required to do is not discriminate when they hire people who have no real part in their religious practices.

  • Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    “ministerial” employees can be much broader than just pastors … they can include teachers and anyone else who has a role in purveying “religious doctrine.” That can get factually quite complicated.

    I did remember it as factually complicated and broader than just pastors, so I’m relieved to find I didn’t steer anyone very wrong here. Thanks for chiming in: I just have no real knowledge of the area.

  • Al Dente

    llewelly @22

    It’s Kent Hovind, not Ken Ham, who’s in prison.

  • lorn

    Are they really willing to go to jail? Do they know that the jails are full of brown skin people with attitudes?

    I suspect that they are going to do what those sort usually do; claim their willingness to go to jail but chicken out and settle for loudly claiming they are going to go Galt or run off to some, yet to be named, foreign country. Then, when the time comes, they fail to follow through.

  • sigurd jorsalfar

    We all know what their adamant stand will be – when offered a marriage proposal by a member of the same sex, almost none of them will accept. Take that!