When the Supreme Court struck down DOMA and Proposition 8, many saw it as a sign that the times they were a-changin’. Others saw it as a sign that the times they were a-changin’ and they were not a-ready to change with them. Which brings us to today’s (first) story of religious intolerance. Some churches, anticipating a lawsuit down the line from sue-happy same-sex couples, are changing their bylaws to clearly reflect their Biblical views on marriage.
Airline Baptist Church in Bossier City, Louisiana — when not flying the holy skies — offers Zumba classes and other public use of its facilities. Realizing that that was as gay as they wanted to get, the church changed its rental policy to allow only male-female wedding-related events.
In the recent past, gay couples have thrown a litigious fit over being denied — often on the basis of religion — wedding industry services (i.e. cakes, flowers, reservation halls). Of course, those businesses often have statewide nondiscrimination clauses they’re violating, but the Constitution is pretty clear on all that religious freedom jazz.
“We have some gay couples that attend our church. What happens when they ask us to do their wedding?” pondered Dean Inserra, head pastor of City Church in Tallahassee, Florida. “What happens when we say no? Is it going to be treated like a civil rights thing?”
The fear comes from churches that rent out their facilities to the general public who could face problems if they refuse to rent to gay couples, said Eric Rassbach, an attorney with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
Rassbach claims that it’s important for churches to enshrine their religion-based discrimination in writing so a court doesn’t see it as an attempt after the fact to cover up anti-gay sentiment. The Becket Fund is not pushing for a bylaws change, but even those attorneys that are say no church has actually faced a lawsuit for turning away same-sex weddings. But why let a nonexistent threat get in the way of your irrational fear, right?
“They seem to be under the impression that there is this huge movement with the goal of forcing them to perform ceremonies that violate their freedom of religion,” Justin Lee, executive director of the Gay Christian Network, told the AP. “If anyone tried to force a church to perform a ceremony against their will, I would be the first person to stand up in that church’s defense.”
We’re assuming a “Straights Only” sign hanging on a cross outside the door is the next logical step.