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'The power vested in me by the state', not 'the power vested in the state by me'

by Jeremy Hooper

An interesting poll from the world of church:

In response to the question, "Will you perform a marriage ceremony for a couple whom you know is living together?" 68 percent of mainline pastors say yes compared with 57 percent of evangelicals. Twenty-four percent of Screen Shot 2011-08-06 At 10.44.33 Ammainline pastors and 34 percent of evangelicals say no.
Mainline and evangelical pastors divide again on the issue of performing marriages for divorced people. In response to the question, "When asked to do so, will you perform a marriage ceremony if the man or woman has been divorced?":

-- 41 percent of mainline pastors say, "Yes, regardless of the reason," compared with 29 percent of evangelicals.

-- 55 percent of mainline and 65 percent of evangelical pastors answer, "Yes, depending on the reason."

-- Only two percent of mainline pastors and five percent of evangelical pastors answer, "No."

FULL REPORT: Poll: Pastors divided on when to perform weddings [Baptist Press]

Interesting, because it totally bears out what we civil marriage equality activists say all the time, which is that *ALL* pastors *ALWAYS* have the right to deny religious ceremonies for just about *ANY* reason they want. No same-sex couple has the power to force a faith leader to perform the ancillary (even if oft-utiilized) religious ceremonial component of marriage, and virtually no equality advocate is seeking such a power. Those decisions are for the churches. That's proper. That's right. I and most others support it.

But what we *ARE* saying is that this widely supported religious freedom does not give these same faith leaders the power to foist those personal beliefs into public policy. And unfortunately, that's the point around which we tend to find patent dishonesty from the religious "protect marriage" crowd. They so often overlook the facts that are fleshed out by polls like the above, ignoring the fact that the currently reality as it pertains to heterosexual couples will seamlessly transfer to same-sex couples (as it does already in current marriage equality states). The "one man, one woman" crowd loves to act as if John and Joe's civil licensing and officiation is going to somehow come with a different set of rules that will force a mass gay wedding upon the Southern Baptist Convention. Sadly, it's all part of the game of religious/civil obfuscation around which our opposition has built a movement.

A reality check for faithful officiants: You don't want to marry a cohabitating couple in your Catholic cathedral? So don't! Don't care to sign a ketubah for a couple made up of a Orthodox Jewish man and a Presbyterian woman? Then that is your right, rabbi! If a certain conservative pastor considers divorce a non-starter for marriages he performs at this Methodist church altar? Fine, whatever! But none of these special rights granted to people of the cloth on the basis of their theological training are meant to extend to civil licenses, constitutions, or certain tax-paying citizens who certain faiths deem too corruptive for such a sanctified institution. Period. Always. Forever.

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