Smart people saying smart things

Mark Keuther: “The real ‘religious freedom’ argument”

I am opposed to this amendment because if passed it would mix religion and politics in our constitution. This amendment would tell clergy who they can and cannot marry in their congregations. Some churches and religious organizations want to recognize the relationships of committed gay and lesbian couples. Some don’t. It should be their choice. However, this amendment does the opposite. It tells religious leaders they are not allowed to marry same-sex couples. Many faiths want to decide for themselves. This amendment represents a one-size fits all government mandate on our state’s churches. The best thing is to allow religious leaders and churches to decide for themselves.

Natalie Burris: “Mohler and the threatening papyrus fragment”

Although the evidence weighs heavily in favor of Jesus not having had a wife, Mohler’s fearful reaction is telling. The suggestion that a woman disciple may have existed is threatening to Mohler’s carefully-constructed “biblical, orthodox Christianity.” Even if the evidence is scant, it seems Mohler feels he has a duty to dismiss an alternative theory of Jesus’ life and ministry. It comes across as offensive to Mohler that a woman would be central to the leadership of the early church, perhaps even superior to men.

Gregg Davidson & Ken Wolgemuth: “Biblical and Scientific Shortcomings of Flood Geology”

Flood Geology proponents would have us believe that there is extensive evidence for a violent, earth-wide flood that is apparent if one is willing to consider the possibility. As Christian geologists, we have no philosophical objection to a cataclysmic event of divine origin, and have long been willing to consider evidence of such an event. What we have observed, however, is that evidence for Flood Geology is largely, if not entirely, non-existent. Given the placement and character of sedimentary deposits currently on earth, deposition by a single flood is not only implausible, but utterly impossible unless God temporarily suspended His natural laws in order to establish layers and fossil beds that would subsequently communicate a story vastly different than what actually happened.

John Shore: “The fundamentally toxic Christianity”

The one thing I do want to say for anyone just making their way out of the darkness of Independent Fundamentalist Baptists is this: that you once so thoroughly bought into IFB is a sign of your strength, not your weakness. Beside the fact that you were likely born into IFB and so never chose to believe anything about it one way or another, your allegiance to IFB means nothing more than that you love. You love passionately, deeply, and inexorably. And like everyone else in the world you want that love to mean something, to be incorporated into and desired by something worthy of it.

 

  • AnonymousSam

    In other news, *Facepalm*

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I swear to god that man is like the fucking chameleon.

    Making vaguely conciliatory speeches at the NAACP and then turning around and using racist dogwhistles and writing off half the electorate in other gatherings. Eesh.

  • french engineer

    On gay marriage, I have always been an advocate of separading religious and legal marriages.

    Make the state issue legal marriage certificates to all couples (gay or straight). Let the churches do whatever ceremony they want and be as inclusive (or exclusive) as they wish.

    But in order to be legally married, yo uhave to have a marriage certificate, issued by the state. Having had the church ceremony would not give any fiscal or legal benefit.

    Of course, all marriages made before the passing of the law would remain valid.
    Works rather well here in france, where couples go sign a contract before the mayor before the wedding mass – when there is one.

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

    AFAIK, that’s the American system too – just that many states won’t issue the marriage licence to same-sex couples.

  • Ross Thompson

    Strictly speaking, in America the legal contract is signed as part of the ceremony, not as a separate event. The officiant has to be licenced by the state to perform a legally-binding marriage. Hence the statement “By the power vested in me by the great state of [X] and by [Religious entity], I now pronounce you  man and wife”.

    Which is possibly what leads to the widespread belief that marriage is a religious construct rather than a legal one. If you had to separately go to a courthouse to sign the paperwork, and then have the ceremony, there would probably be a lot less controversy over same-sex marriage.

  • Wednesday

    Good news, French Engineer — that’s already how it works in the US.  People can and do marry legally but not religiously (I did). People can and in fact do marry religiously without legally
    marrying, too — same-sex couples in many states, for example, but also
    sometimes senior citizens where one or both have been widowed, and to
    legally remarry.

    The trouble is that USAians aren’t very good at separating the two, to the point that the people pushing the MN state constitutional amendment being discussed in the first article are insisting that legal same-sex marriage means their churches will be forced to marry gay couples. This is flat-out false; in the US, churches and other religious groups can refuse to marry any couple for any reason — race, divorcee status (which matters to the Catholic church), couple is interfaith or interracial, couple is interfaith and won’t promise to raise their kids exclusively one faith, couple is same-sex, etc.  So “religious freedom” is an incredibly dishonest argument being put forth by the Catholic Church (a big proponent of the amendment).  The first article is a counterpoint written by someone who knows that the logical reasoning of “no, seriously, you won’t have to marry same-sex couples, the Catholic Church already knows this because they don’t have to marry interfaith couples and divorcees” is sadly ineffective.

  • Wednesday

     Dur, first paragraph should end with “sometimes senior citizens where one or both have been widowed, and would lose pension or survivor benefits if they were to legally remarry.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gus-Hinrich/100000151807749 Gus Hinrich

    Figures. I was going to bring up France. Actually, when we got married,  the signing of the contract afterwards was,  according to the priest, the real marriage. The rest was for show.

  • Seraph4377

    Huh.  While that may be the case legally, I’m surprised that a priest would see it that way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gus-Hinrich/100000151807749 Gus Hinrich

    Well, it was 1973, and we had, from our perspective, a “good” priest. Things have probably changed since then.

  • Carstonio

    No, in the US wedding ceremonies conducted by clergy members are legally binding if the member holds the necessary license from the state. There are actually some people who insist that couples who have civil wedding ceremonies “aren’t really married.”

    My understanding is that in France, only civil marriage ceremonies have any legal force, and that a devout couple typically follows this up with a ceremony at their house of worship, which is binding only in the eyes of their religion. French Engineer, is that correct?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gus-Hinrich/100000151807749 Gus Hinrich

     Sounds like the way it should be done. The state’s interest should only be in the civil … paperwork, I guess.

  • Cathy W

    That’s how I understood the process in Germany from a former coworker who got married there – a legally valid marriage involved signing some paperwork at the town office, and there was no legal significance to the church ceremony at all, and no, your clergymember could not formalize a civil marriage. Absolutely, 100% two separate things.

  • Carstonio

    My state’s referendum on same-sex marriage allows that type of exemption. I share your qualms about it, with one caveat.

    If we’re talking about a clergy member that performs wedding ceremonies regardless of religious affiliation, as a type of independent contractor, then it’s disingenuous of the member to claim that his or her conscience would prevent officiating for certain couples based on orientation or marital status.

    But I’m reluctant to say the same for clergy members who are following the dictates of their superiors and who officiate only for couples who belong to that religion. If the religion explicitly forbids homosexuality, then a gay couple seeking to be married in that house of worship are violating that teaching. The clergy member is sort of a doctrine cop in such cases, like if a member of a synagogue wanted to serve ham at a shul picnic. I don’t necessarily approve of that approach but I can understand the argument behind it. And yes, that doesn’t excuse the Catholic Church’s dishonest argument for making same-sex marriage illegal, partly because it would affect clergy members whose teachings or consciences have nothing against such marriages.

  • MaryKaye

    My spouse and I were married in a courtroom with no religious officials involved.  In Seattle, no one has ever questioned the validity of such marriages, but I imagine that could be different in other parts of the country.

    It does seem just a little disingenuous, though, to argue that marriage equality is a matter of religious freedom.  Nothing prevents a denomination from performing religious marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples.  Multiple denominations already do so (Unitarian Universalists, for example.)  They just can’t get legal recognition of these marriages.  This is wrong and absolutely needs to be changed, but it’s a civil-rights wrong, not a religious-freedom wrong.

    (Counting down to November, when there is significant reason to believe my state will uphold marriage equality.  Yay!)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Haven’t people ever heard of the “Oh, we just got married by the local J.P.”?

  • Wednesday

    Carstonio, you are misinformed or misunderstanding what I am saying.

    In every state I know of in the US, common-law marriage excepted, to become legally married you need to obtain a marriage license from the state. This is a legal document and most states require a witness when it is signed.  Clergy are permitted to (and frequently do) serve as officiants for the ceremony — most people who opt for a religious wedding ceremony are basically becoming legally and religiously married at the same time.

    However, this does not mean that _all_ religious wedding ceremonies are legally binding. Minnesota bans same-sex civil marriage, but plenty of same-sex couples have gotten _religiously_ married. These couples do not exist in some sort of mystical quantum not-legally-married/legally married state; they’re simply not legally married in the eyes of the state, full stop.

    In some states, it can depend on whether or not the clergy member says the magic legal words along the lines of “by the powers invested in me by the state of Foo, I pronounce you married”. In NY about seven years ago or so, some clergy got in legal trouble for saying the magic legal words without the couple having a valid marriage license. 

    Finally, anyone who says that people who are civilly married “aren’t really married” probably really means “they aren’t really married in the eyes of my god/my church/me because I am a close-minded snob”. Legally married couples are still legally married. That’s what legal marriage effing is about. 

    In your second response to my comment, I’m not really sure what you’re getting at, or mean by “sharing [my] qualms” about “allowing that type of exemption”.  I have zero objection to religious groups being allowed to decide who is religiously married in the eyes of that group, or who is permitted to have the religious-marriage ceremony of that group. That is an important aspect of freedom of religion and I strongly support that right so long as all persons involved are consenting adults. 

  • french engineer

     So in effect, it’s a communicaiton problem, not a legal one?

  • french engineer

    “My understanding is that in France, only civil marriage ceremonies have
    any legal force, and that a devout couple typically follows this up with
    a ceremony at their house of worship, which is binding only in the eyes
    of their religion. French Engineer, is that correct? ”

    It is.
    In my family alone, I’ve had the example of my brother who went to the town hall, then to church (the inlaw is religious) and my aunt that went straight from the town hall to the party.

    Of course, I also had a distant cousin that insisted on the latin, pre-vatican 2 wedding ceremony. Only time I was ever asked wether I was a republicain (as opposed to a royalist). Weird.

  • Wednesday

      — French Engineer,

    Yes, exactly. It’s confusing for a lot of USians because so many people marry religiously and civilly in the same ceremony — it becomes hard for them to disentangle the civil and religious marriages. And the anti-gay crowd have definitely further conflated civil and religious marriage to increase popular support for their anti-gay laws and amendments; the Catholic Church is _definitely_ doing that right now in Minnesota.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Considering how easy it is to get married in Las Vegas, one wonders why people think marriage is some kind of mystical ceremony only heterosexually oriented cis couples should get to partake in.

    I really wouldn’t be surprised if the odd ‘valid’ marriage licence slipped through in such quickie weddings only for one or both spouses to later discover it’s not actually legally valid.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Romney in Ohio: ‘My heart aches’ for struggling Americans

    Puh-LEASE!!!!!

    Romney actually thinks anyone will buy that?

    Oh hey LOOK AN OPINION POLL RESULT

    . A New York Times/CBS News/Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday found Obama leading Romney by 10 points, 53 percent to 43 percent. It came on the heels of a Washington Post poll released Tuesday that found Obama leading Romney by 8 points in Ohio.

    Stick a fork in this guy. He’s done.

  • Tricksterson

    More like a willful ignorance problem.

  • Carstonio

    I read your original post as saying that civil marriage and religious marriage were separate in the US. That would be true only if clergy members were stripped of their authority to perform legally binding weddings.

    By qualms, I meant that the conscience exemption seems to allow way too much leeway for clergy members to deny a legal service to particular couples for any reason. I’m talking here about the members who don’t limit their legal service to couples of their own religions, as opposed to religions deciding who is married in their eyes.

    My objection to “not really married” is not just the close-mindedness, but the horrid belief that one’s religion decides for everyone who is married. All this is a roundabout way of saying that clergy members shouldn’t have the authority to perform legal binding marriage ceremonies.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    civil marriage and religious marriage were separate in the US [..] would be true only if clergy members were stripped of their authority to perform legally binding weddings.

    (shrug) I don’t have a problem with clergy members also being legal officiants, any more than I have a problem with them also being notary publics or children’s party entertainers or owning restaurants.

    I don’t even have a problem with clergy being legal officiants by default. (Ditto notary publics, though perhaps not entertainers or restauranteurs.)

    If the consequence of that in a community is that effectively all the legal officiants are sectarian, that’s a problem that needs to be addressed one way or another such that citizens not in those sects have access to officiants.

    But outside of that, that’s plenty separate enough for my purposes.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    As much as I appreciate being able to do both at the same time (Seriously, adding another big step like that to the process of getting married *is* a big deal.), While I have no problem with “This clergyman is also a government-deputized officiant with a certain narrowly-scoped civil duty”, I have some misgivings about the bit that goes “Except that the normal anti-discrimination laws which all government-deputized officiants have to abide by under the law don’t apply to *him* when doing his civil duty; he can discriminate against whoever he wants when  doing his *secular* duty because he’s allowd to discriminate in that way when doing his *sectarian* ones.”

    ETA: Now, the problem goes away if you say “If you go to a Catholic priest wanting to be married, he can not refuse to sign the forms if you’re legally allowd to be married, but he can still refuse to perform the religious ceremony.” But I am dead certain the catholics wouldn’t go for that (I imagine you’d end up with a lot of churches having a, um, marriage goy, who was a civil officiant but not a member of the clergy, and he just sat in the back and mouthed along while the clergyman did the ceremony, and then filed the paperwork afterward.)

  • Carstonio

    That’s my concern as well. While investing sectarian officials with a secular civic authority may be convenient for many couples, there’s no legal or theological reason it has to be that way. There’s a valid argument that allowing the clergy to discriminate while performing that civic function makes the licensing authority liable. Odd that any religion should even care whether its marriage rites have any legal force, as long as the couples are free to pursue legal marriage outside the religion.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    I have some misgivings about the bit that goes “Except that the normal anti-discrimination laws which all government-deputized officiants have to abide by under the law don’t apply to *him* when doing his civil duty; he can discriminate against whoever he wants when  doing his *secular* duty because he’s allowd to discriminate in that way when doing his *sectarian* ones.”

    (nods) I can appreciate that.

    And I have no problem with requiring that someone with a civil position fulfill the requirements of that position, even if they’re clergy.

    That said, my own position on service providers discriminating in their choice of clients is actually that I think it should be legal for them to do so as individuals, but if a likely consequence of that is that certain classes of clients have their access to the service restricted then there’s a problem that needs addressing (for example, by restricting providers’ freedom to turn down clients).

  • Wednesday

    – Carstonio

    Ah, no, I meant that the _status_ of civil and religious marriage are separate things. And as for qualms, I don’t see any problem with religious clergy being allowed to refuse to officiate any religious wedding for any reason. and I view clergy being allowed to officiate civil marriage at the same time as the religious ceremony as a convenience for marrying couples.

    On the other hand, a judge,  justice of the peace, a notary public, or any other person with the purely secular right to officiate a civil marriage who regularly offers that service should not be able to refuse to civilly marry people based on religious belief.  These people usually aren’t clergy, though, so I don’t think we have to worry about loophopes that permit assholes to be assholes. WednesdaySpouse and I were married by a judge we’d never met previously (and haven’t seen since) at the local courthouse. If he’d said “I won’t marry a secular Jew to a Lutheran because It’s Wrong”, or refused to marry the couple that went before us because one of them was obviously  pregnant, then he goes from “jackass but within his rights” to “jackass who is violating the law”.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I don’t see any problem with religious clergy being allowed to refuse to officiate any religious wedding for any reason. and I view clergy being allowed to officiate civil marriage at the same time as the religious ceremony as a convenience for marrying couples.

    The actual problem is that many clergy who double as civil servants for the purpose of officiating weddings feel that their being allowed to refuse to officiate religious weddings should permit them to refuse to officiate legal weddings. And, worse, these clergy feel that people whose religious weddings these clergy would refuse to officiate should not have legal weddings at all, and never mind the existence of other clergy who’d be perfectly happy to officiate for these couples, or of civil servants who have the power to officiate weddings and are forbidden to discriminate in so doing.

    I would much prefer it if no religious ceremony could have legal effect. Marrying couples should stop by a justice of the peace on the way to or from the church (by which I mean ‘within a few days of the ceremony’) and sign the papers before witnesses, and there should be a line on the papers for effective date and time so that the couple can go from legally single to legally married right about when they say their vows if they so choose. But I don’t want clergy to officiate legal weddings, because that reduces the assumption that a legal marriage and a religious marriage are the same thing.

  • Carstonio

     

    The actual problem is that many clergy who double as civil servants for
    the purpose of officiating weddings feel that their being allowed to
    refuse to officiate religious weddings should permit them to refuse to officiate legal weddings.

    Exactly. My issue is not that religious clergy are denying religious weddings to some couples, but that they’re denying weddings that have legal force. What’s really irritating is that some of them, in Catholicism and fundamentalism, insist that they’ll be forced to officiate for gay couples even with the exemptions written into the law, and use this to justify campaigning for an outright ban on legal same-sex marriage. If this was really about their consciences, they might just turn in their licenses instead and conduct religious weddings only.

  • Eamon Knight

     “marriage goy”

    ROFL!

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Speaking of religious mixing with secular affairs, at one point in Quebec, baptismal certificates stood in for birth certificates.

  • Tricksterson

    In  at least some states in the US they can too.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Which makes sense if there’s no birth certificate and there is a baptismal certificate. There needs to be a record of each birth dating from the day of birth or very shortly thereafter, and while a birth certificate is better than a baptismal certificate, a baptismal certificate is better than nothing.


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