Purple Prose Aside, Oklahoma Did Not Limit Marriage to People of Faith

Rep Todd Russ, Oklahoma House File Photo

Rep Todd Russ, Oklahoma House File Photo

My former colleague, Representative Todd Russ, recently passed a piece of legislation, HB 1125 that would move issuance of Oklahoma marriage licenses from court clerks to clergy or judges.

Under Oklahoma law as it presently stands, court clerks, who are elected officials, issue marriage licenses.

I think that the bill is a response to lawsuits against court clerks around the country who have not issued marriage licenses for gay marriage due to their religious belief. It appears to be an attempt to remove that pressure from court clerks. According to both the author and representatives who opposed the bill, court clerks have not objected to the legislation.

During floor debate, Democratic Leader Scott Inman raised the question of whether or not the bill would, as an unintended consequence, open the door for “marriage” of any type, including group marriage, polygamy, marriage between humans and animals, etc. Rep Russ answered that HB 1125 does not change regulations as to what constitutes legal marriage.

I think that Representative Russ made an attempt to deal with a problem. I don’t think that this piece of legislation does what he hopes. It has huge holes in it. It also transfers the potential for court challenges and judicial pressure from court clerks to the clergy.

There is no definition of clergy in the bill. This piece of legislation, by creating a whole new legal responsibility for clergy, needs a definition for what constitutes clergy that is specific to the legislation.

As it stands now, the only requirement in the law is that the clergy be “ordained.” That leaves the definition of what constitutes clergy for the purposes of performing this government function entirely in the hands of the religious body of which they are a part.

Since “ordained” is not defined in the bill either, any person could, for the purposes of this law, “ordain” themselves. I am aware that there are definitions in other places in the statutes. But since this creates a new kind of clergy that is part government functionary and part religious leader, a new definition is called for.

Another serious problem with the legislation is that it does not define what relationship the clergy would hold vis a vis the government. Are they now government officials, rather than clergy? That is a legitimate question, since they are now charged with enforcing state law concerning marriage so far as it pertains to the issuance of marriage licenses.

America has kept the issuance of marriage licenses and the definition of marriage as a legal construct entirely under the auspices of the government for over 200 years. The idea of transferring this to clergy is a radical change with many unintended consequences.

One unintended consequence would be the massive impact that this change would have on arguments concerning religious freedom. I believe strongly that clergy should not be government officials by virtue of their ordination. If we make them that, we also make them subject to the same oversight and control as any other government functionary.

Statutes that make all ordained clergy function as government opens clergy and faith to government regulation. It transfer the court challenges and pressure being brought against court clerks to clergy. It pierces the protected legal status that clergy holds now.

This legislation, which I think is a good-faith attempt to deal with a serious problem, will, in a few years, create other problems concerning attempts to limit religious freedom that will be exceedingly grave. It has the potential to create a religious freedom train wreck.

HB 1125 has been the object of quite a bit of purple prose, both in the mainstream press and in the blogosphere. This includes claims that Oklahoma has done away with marriage licenses, or that the bill would limit marriage to people of faith. 

These claims are not accurate. The bill changes how marriage licenses are issued. It does not do away with them. Any one who wants to get legally married in Oklahoma today would be able to get legally married under this bill if it becomes law.

I’m not sure how to handle the problems we are now facing as a result of the nihilism that is being applied to family law in this country. If I was still a legislator, I would have voted against this particular bill for the reasons I give above.

My greatest concern about the bill is that it would change the legal status of clergy and that would create the means for successfully attacking religious freedom in the future. It does not matter if the bill labels clergy government functionaries or not. If this bill becomes law, that is the function they will be performing.

I have no doubt that future civil challenges would use this law to seek to define clergy as government functionaries through the courts. This law creates a means by which clergy can be subjected to government regulation as civil authorities.

In today’s political climate, that would be a disaster for religious freedom in this country. Groups have been attempting to control what clergy preaches for decades. This law hands them the means to do that. It would also open the doorway for legitimate court challenges requiring clergy to perform gay marriages (and other inventive forms of “marriage”) even if it violates the teachings of their faith.

You can read the version of the bill that passed the House here.

 

Representative Kern Gets Gay Marriage Bill Out of Committee

Representative Sally Kern. Photo Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives.

Representative Sally Kern. Photo Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives.

Representative Sally Kern’s HB 1599 passed out of the Oklahoma House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee this week. The vote was 5 to 3 in favor of putting the bill on the House floor.

If it becomes law, HB 1599 would have four effects. I am going to put my comments in bold to help you follow the thinking on this.

1. HB 1599 would prohibit the expenditure of state monies for “any activity that includes the licensing or support of same-sex marriage.”

The Oklahoma legislature clearly has the power to determine how state monies will be apportioned. There is a real possibility that this part of the bill would survive court challenge. 

2. HB 1599 requires that any Oklahoma state, county or city employee who takes actions that would “officially recognize, grant or enforce a same-sex marriage license” would lose “their salary, pension, or any other benefit” that is funded by Oklahoma tax monies.

This is broader than just state-appropriated monies. It takes in any funding for salaries, pensions or other benefits that come from local taxes, as well. The legislature has the power to determine how Oklahoma tax monies may be spent. Whether or not it has such sweeping powers to determine how local tax monies may be spent is questionable.

The legislature also has the power to allocate salaries, pensions and benefits to state employees. The question that will almost certainly arise if this bill becomes law is whether or not this particular use of that power is discriminatory. 

3. HB 1599 requires that state courts dismiss challenges to the “any portion of the Preservation of Sovereignty and Marriage Act (HB 1599) with an award of costs and attorney fees to defendants.”

In my opinion, this is a violation of the separation of powers on which our government is built. I also think it is a violation of the First Amendment right to petition the government. 

4. HB 1599 mandates that judges who violate “this act” will be removed from office.

5. This is not an effect of HB 1599, but it is important to note that it has what is called a “severability clause.” A severability clause means that if the courts strike down one portion of the bill, the rest of the statute will still stand.

Now that HB 1599 is out of committee, it is, in legislative parlance, “on the floor,” referring to the “floor” of the full House of Representatives. The next step in its passage will be to get it on the House agenda where it can be brought to a vote of the full House.

Whether or not Representative Kern will succeed in getting this bill onto the floor agenda and then getting it called up for a vote is a matter of internal House politics. This has a great deal to do with the push and pull of what is happening with other legislation and how the various members align themselves on this issue. It is an internal, out-of-sight bit of legislating.

If HB 1599 comes to a vote of the full House, and if it passes the full House, it will then go to the Senate, where the Senate author will have to put it through the same process, all over again. If it passes the full Senate without amendments (unlikely) it will go to the governor, who has the power to veto it.

If it is amended in the Senate, it must come back to the House and, unless Representative Kern accepts the Senate amendments, would go through a conference process. If she accepts Senate amendments, HB 1599 would be voted on again by the full House. If the bill goes to conference, it has a lot of hurdles to get over before it can be voted on again. A lot of bills die in the conference process.

If it gets through the conference process, it must then be put back on the agendas of both houses, and be brought to a floor vote in both houses. If it survives all that, it still has to go to the governor, who can veto it.

Each of these steps is more complex than it sounds here. Each step has more variables than I can discuss in a blog post.

It is no small accomplishment that Representative Kern succeeded in getting this bill out of committee. She is a determined, hard-working legislator who does not attack or harm her colleagues.

If HB 1599 does not come to a vote of the full House before the end of the legislative day on March 12, it can not be voted on this year. That does not mean the bill is dead. It can be brought up for a vote next year.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the next few weeks.

What are You Doing January 22?

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Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Elvert Barnes. https://www.flickr.com/photos/perspective/

 

I remember the predictions after Roe v Wade. I thought that the people making these arguments were, to put it bluntly, nuts.

Abortion will lead to euthanasia, they said.

Abortion will lead to human cloning, they warned.

Abortion will be used as birth control. 

Abortion will damage the respect our society holds for human life. 

I thought they were nuts. Such things would never happen.

But look at us now.

Scientists are in the process of creating animal/human hybrids. We are euthanizing people for being depressed and oftentimes against their will and without their knowledge. Euthanizing children and people with dementia is the new killing trendy. Babies are designed, created, bought and sold over the internet. Egg harvesters run ads on Facebook, and in college newspapers to lure young women into allowing their bodies to be harvested for eggs.

I personally know a woman who has had 7 abortions. I’ve spoken to many women who have had repeated abortions.

Abortion has not just damaged our respect for human life, it has ravaged it.

As for respect for women, we are now talking about legalizing polygamy, and gay marriage is the new de facto.

January 22 is the anniversary of the day when the United States Supreme Court decided to create a legal class of sub-humans. They set up a fiction far more deadly and discriminatory than separate but equal. With one rather verbose and confusing bit of judicial lawmaking, they defined a whole class of people as lives unworthy of life.

In a bitter reflection of the “useless eater” argument that the Nazis used to justify their euthanasia program, the Court announced that it could not determine when life began, and thus, it would operate as if unborn people were not alive at all.

That is how a whole class of people lost their legal right to be alive. This draconian ruling wasn’t the end of assaults on human life; it was the beginning of a decades long unraveling of the very fabric of society. It ushered in a new era of deconstruction of Western civilization that has widened and gathered force with time.

We stand today in the pit of this new low. It reaches past abortion and into the whole body politic, which has been reduced to a quest for power with no regard for this country or its people. Today, we are destroying the basis for civilized society as we demolish marriage, broaden the attacks on human life and pound away at Christianity in a effort to force the one voice that speaks against this death-dealng nihilism into silence and out of the public square

January 22 is the anniversary of the day that the Supreme Court cut the heart out of our American civilization. On January 22, the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution of the United States, a document founded on the universal worth of all human beings, held an invisible and heretofore unknown “right” to kill a whole class of people with impunity.

How could anything ever be the same after that?

We cannot let this day slide by unacknowledged. It is the anniversary of the day when dealing death to innocents became a legal “right.”

January 22 should be edged in black on all our calendars.

What are you doing this Thursday to mark that black day?

Are you going to march? Will you gather with friends for prayer? Do you have plans to volunteer at a crises pregnancy center, or to write a letter against euthanasia, egg harvesting, human cloning, or one of the other attacks on human life that sprout each day?

Will you spend the day living pro life by caring for your own children, you own elderly parents, your husband or wife? Political pro life is only an adjunct to the real work of living pro life. Living pro life means living your responsibility to yourself and to other human beings.

What are you doing January 22? How will you mark the day?

Pope Francis is Writing an Encyclical on the Environment, and Both Sides of the Political Spectrum are Sharpening their Knives

Pope francis

Copyright Thierry Ehrmann, Flickr Commons, used with permission.

So, Pope Francis is going to write an encyclical on the environment, and the right wing heretics, the left wing heretics, the corporatists and the nihilists are sharpening their knives.

It would be a hopeful sign, that so many of our culture warriors and mega money-men are seemingly besotted with the pope to the point of losing all common sense.

It would be.

Except …

They are not besotted with the Pope as the Vicar of Christ. They are interested in him and his every little word because he has power, and power is what they are all about.

Pope Francis does not have the power to push a button and melt down mountains. He cannot sign an agreement and send the industrial base of a great capitalist nation to a communist nation. He can’t raid a national treasury and put the coin in his own pocket. He can not write a statue or issue an order and with his terrible swift pen KO the family, human life at its beginning or the tenuous hold on respect held by our frail elderly and disabled.

Nope.

Pope Francis can not do any of those things. What he can do is speak directly to the conscience of billions of Christians by telling them the plain facts of what Christ meant. He has the power to take the phrase “the least of these” and tell us who the least of these is and what we must do for them. He can remind us that Jesus said it more than once and He said it without equivocation that if we ignore “the least of these” we will not see heaven.

Pope Francis can define for us what, specifically, following Christ means in our world today. He can elucidate for us what the Scriptures mean when they tell us that we are our brothers’ keeper and that we have dominion over the earth.

We live in a time when corporatists are raping the American economy for their gain, while they also rape the planet on which we all live. At the same time, nihilists are selling us a cant of destruction of the family, the devaluation of human life and bloated social programs that not only do not heal the wounds our indifference to human beings have inflicted but are increasingly becoming a means to attack the rights and freedoms Americans enjoy.

Does anybody besides me see that these two things are not opposites? They are different verses of the same song, and that same song is the satan-inspired ballad of the pit, the cultural refutation of the value, dignity, worth and meaning of human life. The fact that one side does it for corporate interests and the other side does it for nihilistic interests makes no real difference. Dead is dead and we are killing ourselves in the service of these false gods of our politics.

Patheos writers from every quarter comment about this, each in their own way.

Frank Schaeffer recently published a passionate article in the Huffington Post in which he repented of and disavowed his religious right past. I think he got his politics a bit wrong when he said, … the American right is not about politics as most people understand politics but about religious absolutes. 

That may be the zeitgeist viewpoint, but from my vantage of having just completed 18 years in public office, it seems simplistic to the point of silliness. The right side of the political coin is not in any way about religious absolutes. Religious absolutes are what they use to sell their corporatism. Religious absolutes are their vote-getting machine.

Now, I know well that there are many sincere Christians who are part of the right side (let’s call them Republicans and stop the cuteness) of the political spectrum, precisely because they were chased out of the left side (Democrats) as punishment for their belief in God, in particular for their belief in His demand that we honor the sanctity of human life.

I’ve lived this nonsense, up close and personal, for quite some time. I can’t tell you how many times my fellow Democrats have uninvited me to be a member of their party because I am pro life.

I understand the flight of so many Christians to the Republican party. I also know that a good number of Republican office holders are devout and sincere Christians.

But, religious absolutes are not what the puppet masters who beam candidates into office on a beam of corporate money — in short the puppet masters who own and run the Republican Party for their own interests — are about. In fact, at least here in Oklahoma, a good many of the top tier Rs that I’ve known have been atheists, big donors to Planned Parenthood, etc.

Politics is not, ever, about religious certitude. It’s about getting power and keeping power and using power for corporatist purposes. It’s about raiding the treasury of public monies and public power which was built by the people and should be used for the people and putting it into the pockets of a few.

Buying a legislature or a Congress by putting them in office with a few million dollars is a cheap investment for controlling the American government and bending it to your own greedy and ruthless will.

On the other side, the side where Mr Schaeffer has found his new hallelujah, the vote-getting machine is aimed at the don’t-wanna-folllow-no-rules crowd. The Democratic Party, which was once the party of working people and the great builder of economic diversity and hope for this country, has become the purveyor of nihilism and the destruction of human life.

If it’s a bad moral idea, you can be pretty sure that the Ds will latch onto it and claim it as a human right before too long. Abortion, embryonic stem cell research, gay marriage, egg harvesting and the intellectual tyranny of political correctness are their vote getting machine.

Again, I know many people who still cling to the working-class roots of the Democratic Party. They truly are about a living wage and building an economy with American manufacturing, American labor and American know-how. I know a good number of elected Democratic officials, including, not so long ago, myself, who feel this way.

They/we are to the Democratic Party what the pro traditional marriage people have become to the Republican Party; someone to be tolerated and used, but also, when policy is made, ignored.

The American people are a bit like Mr Schaeffer in that they flip from one of these extremes to the other, in search of someone who will listen to them. Every few years they toss out whoever is in office and elect a new batch of wing nuts from the opposite political spectrum. Then, after the people they elect ignore the people who elected them and follow the the corporatist pipers who paid for their campaigns, we the people wearily, and with a deepening sense of hopelessness, toss them out and try again.

How does anyone keep putting their faith in princes in the face of this? More to the point, how does anyone keep chasing after what Elizabeth Scalia calls “Strange Gods”, in this case the false idol of political salvation, year after year, election after election?

What does all this have to do with Pope Francis and his as-yet unwritten encyclical on the environment? In truth, it doesn’t have much at all to do with the encyclical itself, and that is the primary cause of all the carrying on about it in the two wing-nut camps that seek to define Western society in their own image.

They are not dealing with the actual encyclical, and they never will. What they are doing now is rehearsing and readying. They are softening us up for the tsunami of propaganda that will be unleashed when the encyclical is published.

Right wing nuts are afraid that Pope Francis might write something that says that they (gasp, shock, rage) might be in need of conversion. Left wing nuts are hopeful that this is so. Both of them intend to ignore the actual encyclical and write their own version of it when it comes out.

What they both want out of the deal is political advantage in order to solidify their control of the American government to be used for their own destructive and America-destroying purposes.

Pope Francis has the power of speaking as the Vicar of Christ and these politicos and their mouthpieces want to harness that power to their own anti-Christ uses. That makes him the object of their hatred and delight, another person thingy to massage and lie about until they drain him of his relevance and can’t use him anymore.

Mark Shea wrote a post yesterday in which he noodled with what this might mean to Catholics like us who are living our walk with Christ in these times. He rightly notes that certain members of the clergy are infected with this disease of defining Jesus by their politics along with the rest of the populace. They veer to the left, or to the right, whittling Jesus down into a caricature of the R or the D, and teaching their hapless parishioners to do the same.

Mark is the writer Catholic righties love to hate. He’s fought the good fight of speaking against both both torture and abortion, of being against corporatism and socialism, of saying that the right to life goes seamlessly from conception to natural death and that hunger, poverty, corporate wars and nihilistic debauchery that kills are co-promotors of the culture of death.

That is a most Catholic position, and it is also the one position most likely to make everybody, everywhere in the political firmament mad at you.

Because the little g gods of political fealty require a serious jettisoning of Christian baggage as the price for that comfortable feeling of finding cheap grace and easy salvation in your voter registration card. It does not matter which party you chose. If you follow its teachings instead of Jesus, you are on the broad path that leads to destruction.

That is Frank Schaeffer’s mistake. It was his first mistake when he blindly took off after the Rs in the name of Jesus, and now it’s his second mistake when he blindly attacks them and takes off after the Ds. I do not know this man, but based on this article, it seems that he is making the same mistake, over and again.

What I call The Political Heresy, which is the practice of looking for God in your politics, is, in my opinion, the primary heresy of contemporary America.

I would put it above nonsensical claptrap such as claiming that killing people with abortion and euthanasia is a human right, or that harvesting women’s bodies for eggs is women’s rights. I would also put it above the other claptrap of claiming that Jesus was a corporatist, and that what He really meant all along was blessed are the rich.

I do that because The Political Heresy is a first cause of both these things. What makes it a first cause is that it shifts our loyalty and our followership away from Christ Jesus and places it on the propagandized musings of well-paid think tanks and media outlets who are designed and employed to confuse, delude, misinform and otherwise lead us away from Him.

Pope Francis is writing an encyclical on the environment, and both sides of the political spectrum are sharpening their knives. Because they don’t care about Jesus. And they don’t care about the future of this planet. And they don’t care about people.

They care about getting and keeping power.

And everything else they say is a lie.

Following Jesus Means Supporting Human Rights for Homosexuals.

Ugandan men hold a rainbo 011

If you’ve got gay fatigue, you’re not alone.

I’ve been hearing muttering from some surprising places, including people who are strongly in support of gay rights, that they’re “tired” of the obsessive focus our society has on homosexuality.

The endless circular debates about forcing people to bake a wedding cake or if ordained ministers should be allowed to not perform gay weddings is beginning to try the patience of people from all points on the ideological compass.

However, there is another side to this, and it’s not about petulant demands that everyone collude in the fantasy that two men or two women are the same as a man and a woman. It has to do with the most basic of human rights: The right to life. It also has to do with another basic human right: The right not to be incarcerated unjustly.

I’m talking about countries that have draconian laws giving the death penalty, lashing or long prison sentences for homosexuality. Sadly, most of these laws are being justified because of bogus claims to religion, including, in a couple of places, Christianity. To the extent that this is true, it calls for Christians to speak out against these laws and take a stand against them. Laws such as these are an affront to the basic human dignity of men and women who are made in the likeness and image of God. They are a smear on the name of Christ.

One of the best parts about this story is that, at least in one circumstance, the passage of such laws has been turned back. Uganda’s law which would have provided for a death penalty for homosexuals, was scrapped. This was due to the work of brave homosexual people and their supporters all over the globe.

However, Uganda did end up passing a law that criminalizes “homosexual activities”  and metes out harsh punishments. This law clearly violates the civil liberties and human rights of homosexuals.

I think it’s important for us as Christians to join the fight against laws such as these, and for us to do it in the name of Christ. This does not mean that we should stop our defense of traditional marriage. It is a requirement on us as Christians that we walk this line of supporting the human rights of all persons, including homosexuals, and that we also refuse to back down in our defense of the family.

Each in its own way is a human right, which must be defended.

The commitment to Christ Jesus is always a counter-cultural commitment. It does not matter the culture. Following Christ, if you are true to the call, will pit you against the cruelties and lies of your society. That is why so many people who claim to be Christian do not, in fact, live Christian.

Living Christian is not easy. It requires being attacked for one position, and then crossing the street to stand with your attackers on another issue. There is no country for the authentic follower of Jesus except heaven itself.

I’m going to make an effort to follow these attacks against the basic human rights of gay people and to let you know ways in which you can join in the fight against them. At the same time, I am going to continue to urge you to stand strong in the work ahead to rebuild and reclaim traditional marriage, and to work against the onslaught of attacks on First Amendment freedoms in the name of bogus claims of “human rights” violations against gay people in this country.

If that seems like a contradiction, so be it. It is my idea of following Jesus the best that I can.

From the Washington Post:

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni today signed a law that imposes a 14-year prison sentence for homosexual acts — and life sentences for those found guilty of “aggravated homosexuality.”

A measure imposing the death penalty was removed from an earlier version of the bill.Homosexuality was already illegal in Uganda, as it is in 37 other African countries.

Though the death penalty was removed from Uganda’s law, it’s a potential punishment elsewhere, including parts of Nigeria, Mauritania and Sudan.(Last month, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed a measure similar to Uganda’s into law; a few weeks later, a mob pulled 14 young men from their beds and assaulted them, screaming about cleansing their neighborhood of gay people. )

Haters Gonna Hate: Christian Ministers Forced to Perform Gay Marriage or Face Jail Time

 

Photo Source: Catholic News Agency

Remember the lies?

Gay marriage would not lead to polygamy, they said. But before gay marriage is even fully out of the gate, the court movement to legalize polygamy is afoot. 

Gay marriage will never lead to ministers being forced to perform gay marriage wedding services, they told us. Well, so much for that one, too.

David and Evelyn Knapp, ordained ministers of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, have been told by Coeur d’Alene’s city officials that, due to their refusal to perform a gay wedding, they may face up to 180 days in jail and $1,000 in fines for each day they do not perform gay wedding services.

A lawsuit filed on the minister’s behalf by the Alliance Defending Freedom, says in part:

If the Knapps refuse to perform one same-sex ceremony for one week, they risk going to jail for over three years and being fined $7,000. If the Knapps refuse to perform one same-sex ceremony for 30 days, they risk going to jail for over 14 years and being fined $30,000. If the Knapps refuse to perform one same-sex ceremony for a year, they risk going to jail for 180 years and being fined $365,000.

The city is taking the legal position that the couple’s wedding chapel, which is called the Hitching Post Lakeside Chapel, is a “place of accommodation” that would is subject to the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance.

That’s kind of rich since the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel is a denomination going with over 8,000,000 members worldwide. There are 1,875 Foursquare Gospel churches here in the United States alone.

The legal basis for this contention seems to hang on the thread that the Hitching Post Chapel is incorporated as a “religious corporation limited to performing one-man-one-woman marriages as defined by the Holy Bible.” According to Fox News Radio, the Hitching Post Chapel is a for-profit corporation.

I do not know if Idaho law has a discreet entity called a “religious corporation” in its statutes, or, if it does, what that means. I do know that the City of Coeur d’Alene called these two ministers. Again, according to Fox News Radio, the city attorney claims that even ordained ministers whose church teachings do not allow gay marriage will be required to perform gay marriages.

I think it’s telling that two days after the Ninth Circuit issued an order allowing same-sex marriages, in Idaho, Pastors David and Evelyn Knapp received a phone call from the city advising them they had to perform gay marriages.

David and Evelyn Knapp are ministers who were ordained by a legitimate denomination.

According to the Gay Christian Movement Watch, here is the International Church of the Four Square Gospel’s teaching on the matter:

The Biblical record shows that sexual union was established exclusively within the context of male-female relationship and formalized in the ordinance of marriage. In the New Testament, the oneness of male and female in marriage pictures the relationship between Christ and His Church. . . . The Scriptures identify the practice of homosexuality as a sin that, if persisted in, brings grave consequences in this life and excludes one from the Kingdom of God.

The facade of lies in support of gay marriage is falling down, and it’s doing it quickly.

From The Daily Signal:

For years, those in favor of same-sex marriage have argued that all Americans should be free to live as they choose. And yet in countless cases, the government has coerced those who simply wish to be free to live in accordance with their belief that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.

Ministers face a 180-day jail term and $1,000 fine for each day they decline to celebrate the same-sex wedding.

Just this weekend, a case has arisen in Idaho, where city officials have told ordained ministers they have to celebrate same-sex weddings or face fines and jail time.

The Idaho case involves Donald and Evelyn Knapp, both ordained ministers, who run Hitching Post Wedding Chapel. Officials from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, told the couple that because the city has a non-discrimination statute that includes sexual orientation and gender identity, and because the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Idaho’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, the couple would have to officiate at same-sex weddings in their own chapel.

The non-discrimination statute applies to all “public accommodations,” and the city views the chapel as a public accommodation.

On Friday, a same-sex couple asked to be married by the Knapps, and the Knapps politely declined. The Knapps now face a 180-day jail term and $1,000 fine for each day they decline to celebrate the same-sex wedding.

A week of honoring their faith and declining to perform the ceremony could cost the couple three and a half years in jail and $7,000 in fines.

Government Coercion

The Knapps have been married to each other for 47 years and are both ordained ministers of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. They are “evangelical Christians who hold to historic Christian beliefs” that “God created two distinct genders in His image” and “that God ordained marriage to be between one man and one woman.”

But as a result of the courts redefining marriage and a city ordinance that creates special privileges based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the Knapps are facing government coercion.

Dueling Bishops: The Synod in Their Own Words

I’ve put together a set of comments from the various cardinals about the on-going Synod of the Family. I think it’s best right now to let them speak in their own words, rather than try to interpret what they mean.

One thing that seems apparent is that there is a wide gap between the Cardinals of the developing world and those from the wealthier nations.

 

Cardinal Burke

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German Bishops

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Cardinal Napier on Polygamy

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Cardinal Tagle Poor Families Need Synod’s Help

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Cardinal Wuerl on Who May Receive Communion?

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Cardinal Nichols on Marriage and Fidelity

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Why I’m Not Writing About the Synod

 

I’m haven’t been writing about the Synod on the Family because I don’t have a clue what’s really happening.

The quotes from various bishops are confusing, to say the least. They’re also disturbing.

That’s what happens when the press gets their hands on public statements. It isn’t usually a deliberate thing on their part. It’s more a function of what occurs during a game of gossip.

Did you ever play gossip?

The way we did it when I was a Brownie Scout, is that we’d all sit in a circle and the Scout leader (who was usually my mama) would whisper something to the first girl, who would then whisper it to the next. By the time it got all the way around the circle, a simple statement like “the sky is blue” would have become “Godzilla is attacking at dawn.”

Scout leaders used the game to teach little girls the inaccuracy of gossip. As I often tell people, “If you don’t believe the garbage that’s said about me, I’ll return the favor and not believe the garbage I hear being said about you.”

Many of the quotes coming out of this Synod are not only enough to chill a faithful Catholic to the bone, they are flat-out stupid. I’ve read a couple of them and thought, either this is taken totally out of context and probably misquoted a bit on top of that, or this bishop is an idiot.

I decided, not in the name of charity, but in the name of common sense, to take all these quotes as background noise and wait and see what the Synod actually says and does in an official capacity. Even if all our worst fears are realized and the Church does decide to rescind marriage as a sacrament and allow what it has always taught us is sacrilege and begin performing gay marriages and basically drop kick Jesus Christ off the altar, even if every bit of that turns out to be rock-hard true, there is no percentage in wringing our hands over it now.

Besides, how likely is that?

It looks to me like various factions among the bishops and cardinals are trying to lobby the public through the press to exert public pressure on other bishops and cardinals in other factions to go along with what they want. Ergo, we have been treated to blabbermouth bishops and cardinals, (mostly cardinals, from what I’ve seen) running to the press to spill their stuff.

What does this mean in the bigger picture?

All I can say for sure is that it appears that some of the cardinals and bishops have a problem with their big mouths. It also appears that they have the mistaken notion that they can control a story once it’s out there.

I wish they’d asked me about this first. I could have told them that once you say something in a public forum, it’s like launching a handful of helium balloons. Where it goes, or if it even flies at all, is entirely out of your control. You can’t call it back. You can’t unsay it. And you can’t dictate how it will be presented or how people will react to it.

What these bishops and cardinals have accomplished with their talk is scaring the tom fool out of faithful Catholics who are really trying to follow Church teaching. They’ve also got a whole lot of people who have already demonstrated that they don’t care at all about Church teaching by the way they live their lives, slavering at the post, ready to take the bit between their teeth and run with whatever the final outcome is, claiming that it validates their sinfulness.

Just for the record, let me say the obvious. Even if the bishops rescind the law of gravity, I would not recommend jumping off the side of the Grand Canyon. That goes double for things like sleeping around and engaging in serial marriages with this person and the next person.

Jesus made marriage a sacrement. He also put the kibosh on divorce.

If the bishops try to undo what Jesus said, if they try to limit the sacrament of marriage and make it conditional, they will also pretty well do away with their own authority. The Catholic Church is built on the sacraments. If marriage is conditional, then so is Holy Orders, which means that bishops who step all over marriage as a sacrament are also setting up the end of their own authority.

Things roll down hill from the marriage-is-conditional theory of sacramentality pretty quickly, and the Church itself comes unraveled in the process.

So, are the bishops going to do all the things that their quirky statements which are coming to us through the press filter seem to say?

My thought is don’t hold your breath.

If the Eucharist can be had by cultural force, and the sacraments can be watered down to fit the times; then what is the Church?

How likely is it that the bishops are going to do such a thing?

This Synod is not going to overturn 2,000 years of Christian teaching. I think we can trust that. However, it may very well develop ideas for new ways to reach out to those who falter in following those teachings. After all, the business of the Church is bringing people to Jesus, not casting them into hell.

That’s why I’m not writing about the Synod. Because all I know about it is coming from one-sentence quotes coming from bishops and cardinals who are obviously using the press to hit at one another. That, and the garbled commentary that the Synod itself releases.

There appear to be factions within the bishops and cardinals, and they appear to be playing to the press.

Things said to the press never come back around sounding even vaguely like what the speaker thought they said in the first place. It’s like playing that children’s game of gossip in real time and to a wide audience.

My advice, brothers and sisters, is go to mass this weekend. Pray a Rosary for the Synod. And live your lives.

As to what the bishops are really intending, we’ll find out soon enough.

The Supremes KO Marriage as a State’s Right Issue

 

They didn’t do it directly.

It was an indirect, “if you say so” kind of move.

The United States Supreme Court allowed rulings from lower courts in favor of legalizing gay marriage stand. This decision, which affected rulings in five states, simply said that the Court would not address these lower court rulings. The rulings had overturned state laws in five states that limited marriage to one man and one woman.

This decision not to decide on the part of the Supreme Court was a backdoor way of overturning their own ruling of a few months ago that marriage was a matter for the states to regulate. It is also the natural outcome of their concomitant ruling overturning DOMA.

The Supreme Court’s tut-tut verbiage of the time aside, overturning DOMA had the effect of federalizing marriage. Lower courts have followed by legislating from the bench and overturning state laws limiting marriage to one man and one woman in a willy-nilly fashion.

Personally, I’m not surprised. I basically said this would happen when the DOMA decision came down. I ran into a bit of criticism for saying this at the time. But far too often, people try to parse their way out of the obvious by hinging arguments on the particulars and ignoring the major effects of a piece of legislation or public statement by government authorities.

This kind of “it depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is“ commentary cripples people’s understanding and leaves them wide open to what anyone with half a brain can see is coming.

The Supreme Court overturned DOMA, and that federalized marriage. They also, at the same time, made statements about marriage being a state’s rights issue. As the Court so often does, it set up a collision that it would have to rule on in the future.

In the instance of gay marriage, I think they did this for political reasons. It was their attempt to avoid the kind of cataclysmic ruling and the resulting public battle that happened with Roe v Wade. They know the harm Roe did to this country, and they didn’t want their fingerprints on another ruing that would damage it even further. At the same time, they intended to allow gay marriage.

What they did to avoid this was try the frog-in-the-pan-of-water method of making a cataclysmic ruling. You know how it goes. If you put a frog in a pan of boiling water, it will jump out. But if you put it in a pan of tepid water and slowly heat it up, the frog will sit there until it’s cooked. In this case, the frog is us.

The Supreme Court overturned DOMA, and thereby federalized marriage, which set up a series of court battles that collided directly with their statements concerning marriage in another ruling they made on the same day. It was inevitable and necessary that they were going to have to rule again as to which of their conflicting rulings they actually meant.

They did just that on Monday. But they didn’t do it by making a ruling. They did it by letting other courts’ rulings stand.

This is an interesting ploy.

In politics, we call it heat transference.

The Court used this three-step don’t-really-rule-but-get-the-effect-of-a-ruling method to transfer the heat away from themselves and diffuse it out onto the wider American public. The practical effect in terms of American jurisprudence is both similar to a cataclysmic ruling, and somewhat different.

The major difference is that future Supreme Courts won’t have to overturn this one if they decide to rewind things a bit. The Court hasn’t ruled. It just let lower court rulings stand.

That may sound like a minor difference, but in practical terms of what we’re going to have to do to put the toothpaste back into the tube, it’s major.

The important thing, which I intend to repeat as often as necessary, is that we’ve got a battle ahead of us.

We have to convert this culture, and we have to do it in the face of increasingly ugly anti-Christian bias.

This is not, to paraphrase Thomas Paine, the time for sunshine soldiers of the Cross.

The first place to begin is by clearing away the debris in our own lives and marriages. The second and equally important thing is to protect our children from the propaganda and brainwashing that is directed at them.

We need to live our values and raise our children to do the same.

Only then, when we have removed the beams from our own eyes, will we be fit to remove the splinter from the eyes of those around us.

This is a wonderful time to be a Christian. We have the opportunity to stand for Christ in meaningful ways that can change the world.

Don’t miss your chance to stand with Him in this day.

Pope Francis: The Devil Hates Human Beings and Wants to Destroy Us

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