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

Haters Gonna Hate: Christian Ministers Forced to Perform Gay Marriage or Face Jail Time October 21, 2014


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.

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54 responses to “Haters Gonna Hate: Christian Ministers Forced to Perform Gay Marriage or Face Jail Time”

  1. During the 1960s, couples rebelled against government authority by rejecting the marriage license and choosing cohabitation because they believed “a piece of paper” could not define their relationships. Today, some fundamentalist Christians choose to marry without a state-issued marriage license. Pastor Matt Trewhella of Mercy Seat Christian Church in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, one of the most outspoken pastors on the subject, refuses to marry anyone with a state-issued license. “When you marry with a marriage license, you place yourself under a body of law which is immoral,” he says. Marriages without state licenses are still legal and hold up in the courts of every state. Two witnesses must sign the marriage certificate issued by clergy, and if desired, it can be filed in the county courthouse.

    Read more : http://www.ehow.com/about_6644

    It is time to get the state out of marriage recognition, just as Okahoma is getting ready to do.. We will still be married if we choose but the state will recognize NOT any marriages. If you go to court, a license NOT sanctioned by the state is still just as good.

    The churches cease being agents of the state by issuing their licenses and are protected from the courts by the constitution. They can continue to decide whom they will marry.

    This enables hets to determine what their children will be taught and whom they must serve in their business. Everyone is happy.

  2. Very awful. First it was the bakers and wedding cakes. Now this. Next?…public school history teachers will have to teach courses on the many things invented by gays, laws written by gays, lands discovered by gays. Art teachers will have to draw same sex couples in their street scenes. Do you think I’m kidding? I’m not.
    We’re going to need a list of occupations that biblical Christian youth and Catholics should avoid. Gradually it’ll dawn on us….the Amish saw these days coming long ago. What’s their divorce rate? Tiny….I suspect. They should have given the first day talk at the Synod on the family…and included their recipe for potato salad sold at Walmarts.

  3. FYI: these folks run a for-profit business, not a church. If they incorporate as a 501(c)3 with a religious designation, then they have nothing to worry about. However, they haven’t done that. They are FOR-PROFIT. They pay taxes. Therefore, they don’t qualify for protections, as you assumed. Any attorney would know that.

  4. That’s an interesting point. I wasn’t aware that they were incorporated as a for profit. Still, this is getting to be a fine point, when you are talking about what is clearly a function of the church which is performing marriages. These are two ordained ministers, and they are being required to perform services against their faith because it takes place in a for-profit enterprise? That’s a much broader swath than the issue of incorporation.

  5. This needs to go to the Supreme Court right now to get clarity. But it’s not a surprise. Don’t forget the issue in Huston, TX where the city wants to go through Pastor’s homilies for anythign against SSM.

  6. Um….since when is jail time considered criminal? There’s something severely wrong with the formula in this law, if after being arrested and still refusing to submit, they add 180 days to the sentence for every day in jail.

  7. I understand where you’re coming from, but in think in this case, the fight may be worth the ribbon.

    I do not believe that the law can force ordained ministers to violate the tenets of their faith. I also feel quite strongly that this is a deliberate attempt at government coercion, aimed at them because of their Christian faith. That, in itself, is a violation of Constitutional rights.

  8. The trouble is, the law CAN force business owners to comply with generally applicable nondiscrimination laws. What those business owners believe in any other capacity they might hold is irrelevant. Otherwise, the law has no force whatsoever; anyone can simply claim that the requirements of the law violate the tenets of their faith, and then ignore the law. Obviously, that’s a bad idea if you want to maintain a civil society.

    The law is not affecting them as ministers. It is affecting them as business owners. If they don’t want that to be the case, they need to stop being business owners. Because as business owners, they’re not allowed to discriminate. That would be true regardless of what they believed; it’s a general policy, applicable to everyone who owns a business.

  9. Don’t qualify to practice their religion without interference from the State? Gee, I thought that was in the Constitution.

  10. In Houston, the churches were suing the city – not the other way around.

    The lawyers for the city, the defendants, prepared an obnoxious, overly broad subpoena. Lawyers do this everyday. They get bonus points for being obnoxious.

    After getting pushback, they are now dialing back the subpoena. This also happens everyday.

    This is not about evil government attacking poor christians. This is about two parties in a lawsuit acting like jerks, because our crazy, messed up legal system favors jerks. Put down the persecution card and walk away. There is nothing to see here.

  11. What court movement to legalize polygamy? Where in that court ruling, or anywhere else, did that court or any other say it is okay to be married to more than one person at a time?

    The federal court ruling you linked to addressed the right of unmarried people to live in the same house. That’s it. It was not specific to polygamy. The law was unconstitutional, and the ruling brought Utah in line with the other 49 states. Note that none of these other 49 states have legalized polygamy, or have taken any steps to legalize polygamy. The court struck down an unconstitutional law.

    And you call that a “movement” to legalize polygamy? I hear the 10 Commandments were posted on government property in Oklahoma. Check them out.

  12. Businesses have to obey the law. They don’t qualify for the special religious protections granted to churches because they are not churches.

    They have to obey food safety laws. They have to obey zoning ordinances. They have to pay taxes. They have to obey non-discrimination laws.

  13. What if the tenets of your faith include stoning people for things that aren’t crimes as we know them. It would be a strong argument no? I know it sounds extreme, but some could raise the idea and use the bible as evidence. All rights covered by the constitution still have limitations. My freedom to my religion also guarantees my freedom from yours, and vice versa. The limitations I mention exist for those reasons.

  14. You’re mixing quite a few statutes here Lark. Even churches follow public health and safety ordinances. That’s not even a question from anyone. On the other hand, the new “non-discrimination” laws are barging head first into areas that for over 200 years have been protected by the First Amendment. This is a grave move with grave consequences.

  15. Thanks for the link Lark. I didn’t read it thoroughly, but I did see this:

    Gridley also noted that on Oct. 6, the Knapps filed an LLC operating agreement with the state indicating that the Hitching Post is a “religious organization.” He told the Knapps’ attorney in the letter that if the Knapps are “truly operating a not-for-profit religious corporation” they would be specifically exempted from the city ordinance.

    Since it is in writing, I would guess that it has a lot more weight than he-said/she-said. Maybe the city needs to amend its ordinance to comply with its attorney’s own opinion.

  16. “When contacted by The Press for comment, Don Knapp said the Hitching Post is not operating as a not-for-profit religious corporation.

    He told the Knapps’ attorney in the letter that if the Knapps are “truly operating a not-for-profit religious corporation” they would be specifically exempted from the city ordinance.

    Since it is in writing, I would guess that it has a lot more weight than he-said/she-said. Maybe the city needs to amend its ordinance to comply with its attorney’s own opinion.

    Ms. Hamilton, the attorney said that the ordinance would apply IF the Hitching Post were a not-for-profit religious organization.

    The owner of the Hitching Post states they are NOT operating as a not-for-profit religious organization.

  17. The version I read (there are many out there) is that the outside lawyers handling the lawsuit got the subpoenas as a normal part of “vigorously” defending their client. Normal lawyers’ crap.

    They didn’t consider churchs’ religious freedom or the fact that their client was a government entity. I haven’t read anything where people think this overly broad request is okay. It is being fixed. I’m still for religious freedom for all of us.

  18. I don’t even care if gays are included in equal rights laws. I agree that gays have the same basic rights as anybody else to food, shelter, etc. However, marriage is between a man and a woman. That is the part that is unjust.

  19. Why don’t they just do the thing where they post a sign saying “all proceeds from gay marriages performed here will be matched and donated to NARTH” (or some other organization that is anathema to gay activists)? That would probably take care of the problem and the troublemakers would leave on their own.

  20. Liberals do not care about the Constitution. And over the past 50 years, initially as a weapon against segregation. The have increasingly defined business owners as nonhuman second class citizens.

  21. Over at The Federalist, Robert Tracinski had a fascinating post the other day titled “No One Expects the Secular Inquisition” (http://thefederalist.com/2014/10/20/gay-marriage-no-one-expects-the-secular-inquisition/). Interesting because of his flow of thought:

    1. The conversation about gay marriage has become a battle of secular ideology over religious ideology.

    2. Secular ideology seems to have enlisted the power of the government to its side.

    3. As in the time of the Spanish Inquisition, when religious ideology was backed by the power of the government, it seems that those who embrace secular ideology are bullying their opponents into submission, backed by the knowledge that the government is on their side and they can carry out their threats with impunity – and even with the support of the government.

    4. Those who oppose them, then, are faced with the choice of rejecting their own (religious) ideology to embrace the approved (secular) ideology, or risk destruction (of reputation or of livelihood, if not of life).

    Tracinski basically asks, how is this different from the Spanish Inquisition? My question is, how is this different from the way blasphemy laws are being used / abused in Pakistan and other places? When we hear reports of persons who are jailed and even sentenced to death under the more-strict versions of blasphemy laws, we shudder that “those countries” are more savage than ours, or we accuse some of “those people” of abusing those laws to bully others against whom they may have some kind of grudge (“I have always hated you for some reason, but now I have a legal way of getting you out of my life.”).

    So my question is, under these circumstances how is the case of Donald and Evelyn Knapp of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, different than the case of Asia Bibi of Pakistan?

  22. According to Huffington Post, the Hitching Post is located directly across from the county Courthouse and the owners claim to have performed 35,000 marriages in the last 25 years. That is 1400 weddings a year. 3.8 marriages per day, every day, for 25 years. Is it fair to question whether each and every one of these 35k marriages met any sort of christian standard? Is it fair to assume that the owners really didn’t look into the spiritual beliefs of 70k people or interfere in their relationships? Is it fair to assume that the owners are not vouching for the spiritual purity of 35k couples? Why then is it abhorrent to ask the owners to treat gays with the same detachment?

  23. No one is asking anyone to abandon their religion. The law simply says if you offer a product or service you have to offer it to all customers without discrimination. A vegan can bake cakes without eggs. But anyone can buy a vegan cake even if they plan to serve it at a BBQ. An atheist bookstore doesn’t have to sell bibles but they can’t refuse to sell a book they do stock to someone in jesus t-shirt. A wedding chapel across from a courthouse that marries anyone who walks through the door can’t refuse one couple based on arbitrary factors.

    This really is not an attack on christians.

    The vegan baker can say she hates carnivores. She can support vegan causes. She can exclude eggs and milk and other non vegan ingredients from her cakes. But she cannot refuse to serve a dude in a “I shot Bambi’s Mom” t-shirt.

    The same rules apply to christians.

    (Note – I know that discrimination laws probably don’t apply to meat eaters. This is just for comparison.)

  24. Oh for……. why would anyone want any pastor to perform a ceremony that they didn’t believe in? Justice of the Peace, ok that is a public servant. All those legally ordained by their faith should be able to refuse to perform any sacrament that doesn’t fit their belief system. Find someone that believes in your marriage to perform it! Why in the world would you want anything else on that day!!!!!!! Ridiculous!

  25. They are not being forced to change their beliefs, they can still believe gay marriage is wrong while performing gay weddings. Just like Muslims whose religion forbids them to eat pork could work in a butcher shop selling pork. They may not WANT to do that, but there is certainly nothing preventing them from doing it.

  26. Are you actually saying that equal rights laws shouldn’t apply to everyone? If they don’t apply to everyone, then they aren’t really equal rights laws, are they?

  27. And your point is? your rather desperate attempt to prove that there is something wrong about having a lot of marriage ceremonies in one place would collapse as soon as you tried it on any cathedral or major shrine. What this post shows is the despair of people who feel that they must somehow find a way to defend the indefensible, because it is indefensible and commanded by their party.

  28. They will bring in an assault lawyer to prove exactly what you said – that it is intended to prevent gay marriage in practice. It would make things worse, not better. If the lawyer is reckless enough and the judge is complicit enough – and of course they would select a complicit judge – they might even manage to entangle NARTH itself.

  29. This is crap in itself. The point is not whether people in a lovely wooded mountain area are invited to have a pleasant vacation – and pay for the privilege – around the time of their wedding, the point is whether the wedding is conducted as a religious ceremony by appointed ministers of an acknowledged denomination. IT IS. Everything else is pure lawyerly rubbish and bullying.

  30. Oh, sure. And rulings to inflict gay marriage on us were not going to infringe on our religious practices… until they will. Sorry, we know by now how your party does things, and all the amount of yelling and bad manners in the world won’t change that.

  31. Don’t bother. The mayor is lying and has not really even distanced herself from her own lawyers. And Larkie here has an undoubted talent for half-truths, but I wonder why she even tries, when I can access the facts here on the other side of the world.

  32. Oh, so those “outside” lawyers had never heard of the First Amendent? If that were the case, I would suggest their law schools were investigated. But I’m afraid your devoted faith and your immense ability for believing anything, however irrational, must have misled you once again.

  33. If you believe that the ACLU would take such a case, you have a much higher level of faith than I do. The ACLU are a partisan group, and in the pocket of a certain sexual group.

  34. This is pure sophistry. There is no what if about this: it is an incredibly brutal attempt to bankrupt someone for doing their duties as ordained ministers. And you ought to be ashamed of comparing that to stoning people to death.

  35. The law is affecting them as ministers, because if they were not ministers they could not marry people. If you want to reduce that to a service and a product, open a brothel: it comes to the same thing. You are paying money for company and sexual services.

  36. Wow. You seen to be reading a bit more into my post than I intended. Despair? I neither said nor implied that there is anything wrong with their business model. They are clearly providing a useful, welcome and popular service. I just don’t see any hint that the service they provide is limited solely to guiding people into christian holy matrimony.

  37. A wedding performed by an Elvis impersonator in a Vegas drive through wedding chapel is a product offered to the public. A wedding ceremony in a church, perhaps following months of counseling and religious guidance and maybe restricted to church members, in a religious ceremony protected by the first amendment. The Hitching Post is operating as a for profit business and so is a tasteful version of the “product” end of the spectrum.

  38. We need to lobby our state govt and do this thing. If the state does not recognize marriages for anything, they can not force anyone else to do the same.
    The feds will still do so but states can change a few words and make all the homosexual crap go away forever.

  39. Fabio is a special case Lark. I allow him leeway no one else gets, due to his big Italian heart. If it gets too much for you, wave your hand, and I’ll play school marm. 🙂

  40. Even the Elvis impersonator is still getting two people to be joined together for life. How people choose to marry is their own business; that they are married is either matter of fact or is not. A product is what a brothel offers.

  41. Actually no one has brought charge against them in the first place so no one is trying to bankrupt anyone. Secondly of course there is what if. If laws regarding commerce can’t be upheld for religious reasons, then where do you draw the line? And finally, this couple is running a business. Nobody says they can’t run a nonprofit church, make a living at it, and turn away gays, blacks, redheads, or anyone else that their flavor of belief won’t allow them to serve. If they did this, they would in fact be doing their duties. As it stands they are operating a business, and they happen to be ministers. These are very different scenarios.

  42. Do you realize what you just said? For a start, try to make a devout Muslim work in a butcher’s shop selling pork – just try it. I’ll send flowers, or even come to to your funeral, if you do. Second, your argument is no different from: “Nobody is being forced to change their belief, they can go on believing whatever they wish in jail.” Do you realize that the American constitution makes free exercise a natural part of freedom of religion? I swear, you are weird.