A federal court has just struck down an Indiana law saying celebrants must be religious in order to be legally recognized.
A federal court has ruled that humanist couples in Indiana can be married by their own “secular celebrants,” something that until now was illegal under state law.
In a unanimous ruling, the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said denying humanists the right to be married by celebrants who share their lack of belief in a deity is a denial of their First Amendment rights to freedom of religion.
Under a law dating to the 1850s, Indiana required marriages be conducted by religious clergy or government officials. The humanist plaintiffs argued this denied them the right to be married by celebrants who share their philosophy and gave preferential treatment to religious people.
And here’s a juicy tidbit from the ruling:
Writing for the court, Judge Frank Easterbrook said the current law discriminates not just against humanists, but against members of other faith groups that do not include a deity — Buddhists, Jains, Shintos and Taoists.
“It is irrational to allow humanists to solemnize marriages if, and only if, they falsely declare that they are a ‘religion,’” he wrote. “It is absurd to give the Church of Satan, whose high priestess avows that her powers derive from having sex with Satan, and the Universal Life Church, which sells credentials to anyone with a credit card, a preferred position over Buddhists, who emphasize love and peace. … Like many others, humanists want a ceremony that celebrates their values, not the ‘values’ of people who will say or do whatever it takes to jump through some statutory hoop.”
This is why we should donate to groups like the CFI, the FFRF, and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.