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01/18/2012

Those silly, self-centered 'forced wedding' claims: Wash. edition

by Jeremy Hooper

Most of the time, the more honest members of our organized opposition will even admit that claims about churches being forced to marry gay couples are far-fetched, at best. That's why you hear groups like NOM focusing on (and misrepresenting) parachurch organizations like Catholic Charities or on public pavilions like the one operated by the Methodist Church in Ocean Grove, New Jersey rather than on actual places of worship. Most on the other side realize that Americans, already familiar with churches having free reign to deny any heterosexual couple a marriage ceremony for just about any reason, can think through and easily pinpoint the gaping holes in the "CHURCHES WILL HAVE TO MARRY GAYS" claims. Most shy away from them.

But in any given state, at any given time when civil marriage rights come up before public debate, you'll start to see the claim creep in to the conversation anyway. Which brings us to Washington state, where a marriage bill is under consideration. A local Pastor, Joe Fuiten, has written a lengthy piece all about how Evergreen Churches are going to be forced at crosspoint to marry John and Joe, whether they like it or not.

Except in this case, it's not just the pastor making the claim. No, no -- the state's leading policy group, the Washington Family Policy Institute, is actually pushing out the claims right smack dab on its organizational website:

Some churches might be able to decline to host gay weddings under some limited circumstances but would be forced to allow gay weddings in their sanctuary under most Screen Shot 2012-01-18 At 5.48.33 Pmcircumstances.

What churches could be forced to allow gay weddings?

- Does the public ever use your facilities? If you ever allow non-members to use your sanctuary for a wedding you could NOT deny a gay couple from using your sanctuary.
- Do you have a pop machine or sell coffee?
- Do you sometimes have fundraisers where you sell cookies or popcorn for consumption at the church?
- Have you ever allowed your church to be used by another Christian organization for which they paid you a fee?
- All of those actions would open the door to a civil rights lawsuit and severe penalties if you failed to allow a gay couple to use your facility to have their wedding.

FULL, LENGTHY PIECE: Pastors, are you ready for a gay wedding in your sanctuary? [WA Family Policy Institute]

It is fallacious noise. If a church is operating like an actual church and not some sort of for-profit company that happens to serve wafers on certain Sundays, then no one is going to force those churches to perform a marriage ceremony. Period.

And the worse part? No one in the organized equality movement is seeking that "right"!! They on the "protect marriage" side are the ones so hellbent on muddying the line between civil marriage and religious ceremony, not us! They are the ones putting their sanctuaries into our gay marriages, not the inverse, like Pastor Fuiten's headlines suggests!

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