Must wedding chapel ministers perform gay weddings?

A wedding chapel is not a church, though ordained ministers often preside at the marriages.  Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, is insisting that two ministers who work for a wedding chapel must perform gay marriages.  If they don’t, they will be in violation of the city’s non-discrimination ordinance, which means a penalty of up to 180 days in jail and fines of $1,000 per day.

So should a church exemption apply to a minister without a congregation?  Or should religious exemptions apply to individuals regardless of affiliation? [Read more…]

Standing with the Houston Five

Rev. Dr. Scott Murray is the 4th Vice President of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and the pastor of Memorial Lutheran Church in Houston, a good guy whom I know personally.  You’ve got to read his statement on the mayor’s law firm that is subpoening the sermons of  five pastors who criticized a gay rights ordinance, thus threatening their church’s tax exempt status for allegedly meddling in politics.  Pastor Murray says he would gladly share his sermons with the mayor and her legal team.  And yet, in the Kingdom of Caesar, he stills stands with the Houston Five.  See what he says after the jump. [Read more…]

Houston subpoenas sermons

Annise Parker, the openly gay mayor of Houston, is cracking down on churches that are opposing “HERO,” the latest city ordinance that forbids discrimination against homosexuals.  She has issued subpoenas of pastors’ sermons to see if they are preaching against the bill, which could be construed as politicking from the pulpit, which in turn would endanger congregations’ tax-exempt status.  See Bryan Preston, who quotes the mayor’s tweet:  “If the 5 pastors used pulpits for politics, their sermons are fair game. Were instructions given on filling out anti-HERO petition?-A.”

Some pastors are refusing to send in their sermons, citing their First Amendment rights.  But Lutheran pastor Chris Thoma is calling on pastors to deluge Houston’s city hall with sermons. [Read more…]

The Bootlegger/Baptist theory of regulation

Gambling tycoon Sheldon Adelson wants to outlaw online gambling, which threatens his casino industry.  So with the help of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R, SC), he has formed an alliance with Southern Baptists, who also oppose online gambling because they oppose gambling in general, including what goes on in Mr. Adelson’s casinos.  So we have a gambling magnate using gambling opponents  to help him eliminate competition.

But this paradox is not new.  There was also an alliance between bootleggers and (again) Baptists in promoting Prohibition.  In fact, the phenomenon has a name in the field of economics:  The Bootlegger/Baptist theory of regulation. [Read more…]

The Supreme Court won’t rule on gay marriage

The Supreme Court has refused to hear gay marriage cases.  That means that the lower court rulings legalizing same sex marriage (in Virginia, Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin, and Indiana) will stand.  Not only that, since these were circuit court rulings, the other states in the circuits must also abide by the lower court rulings. That legalizes gay marriage in North Carolina, West Virginia, South Carolina, Wyoming, Kansas and Colorado.  Then again, the lower court ruling that upheld Louisiana’s law against same-sex marriage also stands.

So opponents of gay marriage are not pleased by the Supreme Court’s ducking of the issue, but neither are supporters, who had hoped that the court would legalize gay marriage nationwide. [Read more…]

The problem with public official prayers

We believe in freedom of religion, something that is becoming more and more important to Christians in light of the possibility of official suppression.  Along with that comes the rights of non-Christian religions.  Public governmental meetings are allowed to open with prayer, but that prayer cannot discriminate against the various religions.

Recently, a member of the Escambia County Commission in Florida walked out of the meeting, after an “Agnostic Pagan Pantheist” did an “invocation” that he found weird and satanic.

Wouldn’t it be better not to have any prayers at all at these meetings, rather than force those in attendance to participate in such syncretism? [Read more…]