Dad vs. Dorothy.

The following exchange took place on a facebook thread between dad and Dorothy, whose name has been changed for the purposes of this post.  Dorothy opened with:

Oops [NAME OF OP OMITTED]. Our Constitution says nothing of freedom FROM religion, only OF. The whole idea of FROM is simply that the government should not impose any type of religion on anyone. Freedom from religion is not a demand that someone’s religious beliefs not be expressed. The origins of marriage are biblical. I think we took a wrong turn when government decided to stick it’s nose into marriage in the first place.

Dad came swinging in with:

Oops [NAME OF OP OMITTED]. Our Constitution says nothing of freedom FROM religion, only OF. “

Oops yourself, Dorothy. Can you provide a quote of that from the text, please? I don’t believe the Constitution says either FROM or OF. Here is the text of the first amendment: Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

You are correct with “Freedom from religion is not a demand that someone’s religious beliefs not be expressed.” In addition, freedom from religion, as with freedom of religion, means that no one is required by the government to have religious beliefs.

Additionally, I agree 100% with “I think we took a wrong turn when government decided to stick it’s nose into marriage in the first place.” However, it did, so any governmental benefits acquired by marriage have to be available to all citizens equally.

Dorothy retorted with:

Marriage can be a religious ceremony or not, ie civil unions. I agree that many cultures have different ceremonies. Within the Christian faith, though, marriage is considered a sacred union, therefore a religious, God-sanctioned union. See Genesis 2:24. I’m not here to debate whether gay marriage is right or wrong. My point is simply that a minister of the Christian faith should not be forced, by government, to perform a ceremony of any kind that goes against his or her biblical principals and beliefs. And before you start bashing me and calling me a hater, I have never been against same sex couples enjoying the same benefits that the government has bestowed on married couples. I just think the government is overstepping when its law forces someone to do something that is against their beliefs.

Dad was having none of it:

“My point is simply that a minister of the Christian faith should not be forced, by government, to perform a ceremony of any kind that goes against his or her biblical principals and beliefs.” Christian ministers have not been and are not being asked to perform “a ceremony of any kind that goes against his or her biblical principals and beliefs.” All we are asking is that gays be allowed CIVIL MARRIAGE……marriage recognized by the state. Your religion has the right to recognize them or not. You can keep them out of your church. Ceremonies, if any, to be conducted ONLY by those who want to conduct them and are sanctioned by the state to do so. You say ” I just think the government is overstepping when its law forces someone to do something that is against their beliefs”,which I agree with, BUT, that hasn’t happened and isn’t happening in regard to gay marriage.

“Marriage can be a religious ceremony or not, ie civil unions.” Well, yes, if “civil unions” includes civil marriage…which is exactly what the gays want. That is also what heterosexuals already get. Equal treatment under the law: no more, and no less. You know, the old “All men are created equal” bit.

Dorothy came back with:

You stated exactly what the problem with this issue is. You state that gays want civil marriage, marriage that is recognized by the state. There is no reason why the.state couldn’t recognize civil unions, offering the same rights to gay couples as married couples. If the issue is simply civil rights, then the argument would be centered around civil unions, not gay marriage. What is being pushed is the redefinition of ‘marriage’, which definition, until now, has been based on biblical principals. That is what the problem is from a Christian’s perspective — not a person’s (gay or straight) equal rights, of which most Christians I know are not opposed to. There is no reason why civil “unions” cannot be recognized, while at the same time upholding the sanctity of marriage. As for your statement that Christian ministers are not being asked to perform a ceremony which goes against their beliefs, tell that to the first one who gets a lawsuit slapped against them for refusing to marry a couple because they are gay. If you redefine “marriage”, THAT is exactly what will happen, and by law, the minister will be forced to comply.

Father wound up and unloaded this:

Dorothy, no disrespect intended,but so much of this is just plain out-and-out wrong.

“There is no reason why the.state couldn’t recognize civil unions, offering the same rights to gay couples as married couples.” Actually, they would have to change the 1138 laws and regulations on the federal level to do that and the average of 300 per state, and that plain isn’t happening in the real world. It hasn’t, and there is absolutely no indication that it will.

Let me provide just a couple of examples for you: Social Security survivor benefits require MARRIAGE, not civil union. Inheriting your spouse’s estate tax free requires MARRIAGE, not civil union (see last week’s Supreme Court decision). Married couples filing jointly may exclude up to $500,000 on the sale of their home. Lesbian and gay couples, who are not permitted to marry or to file jointly, are therefore taxed on all gain above $250,000, creating a large tax penalty compared to similarly situated married couples. Approximately 75% of the one million green cards or immigrant visas issued each year are granted to family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. However, those excluded from the definition, under current immigration law of family, are not eligible to immigrate as family. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees family and medical leave to employees to care for parents, children or spouses. As currently interpreted, this law does not provide leave to care for a domestic partner or the domestic partner’s family member.

And so on and on and on. So, although the state technically COULD give civil unions the same rights as marriages, the simple fact is that they DON’T, and all indications that they won’t.

Additionally, deep down inside we all know very well that the doctrine of “separate but equal” really is only separate but not equal, don’t we?

“What is being pushed is the redefinition of ‘marriage’, which definition, until now, has been based on biblical principals.” This is simply not true and shows only a willingness to cherry pick the parts of the Bible that appeal to you like going through the buffet at the Golden Corral; selecting what you like and ignoring the rest. How about Biblical polygamy, a practice that was embraced by prominent biblical figures such as Abraham and David? Furthermore, various Bible passages mention not only traditional monogamy, but also self-induced castration and celibacy, as well as the practice of wedding rape victims to their rapists. The simple fact is that the modern notion of love had nothing to do with biblical marriage which was an arranged contract to protect inheritance and bloodlines. Women were chattel. Simply, the definition of marriage got changed ever since you were unable to sell your daughter for two goats and a cow. Here is a short article reflecting this by some religious scholars on the subject: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/06/biblical-marriage-iowa-scholars-op-ed_n_3397304.html
Here is another from a Baptist press: http://www.abpnews.com/opinion/commentaries/item/8209-%E2%80%98biblical%E2%80%99-marriage-unmasked#.UdbcgG3CYbw

AS to “There is no reason why civil “unions” cannot be recognized, while at the same time upholding the sanctity of marriage.” Due to the Constitutional separation of church and state, “sanctity” doesn’t have a single thing to do with civil marriage. None. Nada. Zero. Zip.

“If you redefine “marriage”, THAT is exactly what will happen, and by law, the minister will be forced to comply.
Bullocks. No Catholic priest is ever forced to marry divorced people, and no minister will ever be forced to grant civil ceremonies to gays. This is empty fear mongering with no basis whatsoever in fact. You have absolutely no evidence for this claim because their is no evidence. We have no reason to base laws in the real world on your fears or to be intimidated by outrageous non-reality based claims. If you have any evidence whatsoever to support this claim, trot it out.

This is what happens when you rely on your pastor for legal and political facts.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • John Evans

    Once again, your Dad is a titan.

    • Artor

      I’m glad he didn’t devour JT at birth though.

      • islandbrewer

        Actually, JT’s grandpa, Cronus (or Saturn) would have eaten JT’s Dad, who would have had to wait until Zeus (JT’s uncle) came along and sliced open grandpa’s belly, letting John out.

        Lot’s of odd things happen in the backwoods of Arkansas, I’m told.

  • Zugswang

    It’s like watching the tide come in and destroy a sandcastle of really bad ideas.

    • invivoMark

      I can’t explain that comment.

      • islandbrewer

        You know, Tide comes in, Tide goes out, never a miscommunication.

    • Azkyroth

      More like a tornado, don’t you think? ;P

    • http://bearlyatheist.wordpress.com/ Bear Millotts

      I like that phrase “sandcastle of really bad ideas”

      I think I’ll use it.

      • Guest

        Maybe I’ll write a children’s book with that title.

      • Guest

        I think I’ll write a cautionary and allegorical children’s book with that title.

  • GaryLayng

    I like your father’s brain. It works logically and strongly. Dorothy needs to click her ruby slippers and return to Munchkinland.

  • invivoMark

    About halfway through reading this exchange, I suddenly started reading your dad’s passages as if they were written by the clergyman in The Princess Bride, but only when reading the word “marriage”.

  • Jasper

    As usual, they’re trying to make it all about them. These people can literally continue their normal lives as usual, with zero change.

  • Ted Thompson

    Last paragraph, sentence five. “..their is no evidence.” Checkmate atheists. ><

    • Greg G.

      His use of the wrong “their” is the first error I’ve seen JT’s dad make.

    • SB

      How pathetic. This exemplifies the xian mentality: I’m going to completely ignore your arguments, which show mine to be ridiculous, and pick up one spelling mistake. Checkmate indeed!

      • Ted Thompson

        Sorry, sarcasm doesn’t transfer well across the internet. The “checkmate atheists” thing is widely used by atheist mocking christian sayings. Glad I could get you worked up over nothing.

        • islandbrewer

          Ted, at least I totally got the “their/there”-so-checkmate-atheists joke.

          I have unusually high sarcasm meters, however, and often dismiss actual nutbaggery.

        • SB

          “Glad I could get you worked up over nothing.”

          You must feel really proud of yourself, albeit misguided.

    • talkingsnake

      Whoa kids! I think Ted is on our side and was pointing out the statement about ‘no evidence’, not the improper use of ‘their’ vs. ‘there’.

      • Ted Thompson

        Nope, I was being a snarky asshat. :D

  • Dirty_Nerdy

    I love debating Catholics on this issue. I just point out that no Catholic priest would be forced to officiate at my wedding ceremony (being that we’re atheists and we wouldn’t be allowed to get married in a Catholic church). So why are they afraid that any pastors will be forced to marry gay couples?

    • Gehennah

      I’ve heard that one church was sued over it and lost, although they never backed up their claim with evidence, and I haven’t actually cared enough to look it up myself.

      Now if that claim was true, then I would be against the Judge’s decision to find that church guilty. But I do have serious doubts over whether or not the incident did happen.

      • amycas

        The only time I’ve ever heard of a chapel being “forced” to marry gay couples are ones that are non-denominational and are completely open to the public. I can’t even remember what state it was in. But the chapel was not forced to have their pastor perform the ceremony, they were only “forced” to accept the couple’s reservation. I don’t think a Catholic church would ever be forced to do anything, since they are not open to the public. Neither would any other general church that only marries/offers their services for people within that denomination/congregation.

        • Stev84

          New Jersey. It wasn’t a chapel and the issue was really simple. It was a pavilion and they had it tax exempt under a program meant to support public spaces and park areas. So they agreed to open it to the entire public.

          Then they refused, got sued and lost the tax status (not for the whole church but that one property). Not because of any grande liberty issues, but because of a simple contract violation.

          Also note that New Jersey doesn’t have marriage equality. So it had nothing to do with that.

  • Stev84

    Take a look at this:
    http://www.nj.gov/lps/dcr/downloads/1st-InterimReport-CURC.pdf
    http://www.aclu-nj.org/theissues/gaylesbianrights/marriage-equality/separate-unequal-stories-2008-nj-civil-union-review-commissi/

    A commission reviewed the Civil Union law in New Jersey. They concluded unanimously that it doesn’t work. People reported again and again that – although it was supposed to have the same rights as marriage – ignorant people didn’t know about that and refused to recognize them. They didn’t even bother to change forms there.

  • Bad_homonym

    When arguing the religious definitions, I would also point this out. The US Constitution’s 1st amendment protects all religions equally. My understanding is that Muhammad practiced both polygamy and pedophilia. It could be argued that these be the next marriage rights fought for! Conservatives argue that marriage equality is the slippery slope. I think religious definition of marriage is!

  • Leo Buzalsky

    The ability to suppress cognitive dissonance is strong with this one. In her first post, she states, “I think we took a wrong turn when government decided to stick it’s nose into marriage in the first place.” But then she says in the second post, “Marriage can be a religious ceremony or not, ie civil unions.” I don’t fully understand why she added the “ie”. Why not, “Marriage can be a religious ceremony or not,” period? Certainly I would think she realizes people can get married without a religious ceremony. (Though, often with the way these people speak, it seems as though they don’t. Which is so hard to believe that I suspect they are mentally suppressing this fact. Or maybe they want those types of marriages to be called “civil unions.” Interesting (sarcasm) that they don’t clearly advocate for that position.) Well, the real story would seem to be that she’s been taught that marriage should really only be a religious ceremony and how dare government try to take that away from her precious Christianity! We see a clearer picture of this by her third post where she mentions “upholding the sanctity of marriage.” So we have an interesting conflict here where she seems on the verge of admitting that marriage is not explicitly religious yet wants marriage to be explicitly religious…but not saying so directly, of course!

  • Gehennah

    Priests have always had the right to refuse to perform services to whoever they want.

    Hell, my wife had to go to seven different preachers before one would agree to perform the ceremony for our wedding (and the one that did was non-denominational Unitarian-like sorry for the butchered spelling).

    The funny thing, is that the six that turned us down didn’t do so because I’m an Atheist, they did so before she was divorced. The one that did perform the ceremony, he was cool. He wouldn’t accept a dime from us for performing the ceremony and pretty much kept god out of the ceremony because he knew I was an Atheist (wife was a non-practicing Christian at the time, she’s more of an Agnostic Theist now).


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