By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton
Never in my wildest nightmares would I have believed this could happen in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where I lived for five years until recently and where I spent part of my childhood. Idaho, is for the most part, a bastion of conservatism. Now, pastors are facing 180 days in jail if they refuse to perform a gay marriage ceremony:
(Alliance Defending Freedom) Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a federal lawsuit and a motion for a temporary restraining order Friday to stop officials in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, from forcing two ordained Christian ministers to perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples.
City officials told Donald Knapp that he and his wife Evelyn, both ordained ministers who run Hitching Post Wedding Chapel, are required to perform such ceremonies or face months in jail and/or thousands of dollars in fines. The city claims its “non-discrimination” ordinance requires the Knapps to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies now that the courts have overridden Idaho’s voter-approved constitutional amendment that affirmed marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
“The government should not force ordained ministers to act contrary to their faith under threat of jail time and criminal fines,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “Many have denied that pastors would ever be forced to perform ceremonies that are completely at odds with their faith, but that’s what is happening here – and it’s happened this quickly. The city is on seriously flawed legal ground, and our lawsuit intends to ensure that this couple’s freedom to adhere to their own faith as pastors is protected just as the First Amendment intended.”
We were told this could never happen, except it just did in Houston, Texas and now in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. This horrifically violates our freedom of religion as Christians. As I write this, many pastors have decided to stand their ground and go to jail over this if it is pursued. If they follow their faith, they have very little in the way of alternative choices here.
This mandate by these fascist city officials is against the law, including Idaho’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as well as the 1st Amendment of the US Bill of Rights.
From William Teach at Right Wing News:
Oh, and just to be truly clear, here’s Section I, Article 4 of the Idaho Constitution:
Guaranty of religious liberty. The exercise and enjoyment of religious faith and worship shall forever be guaranteed; and no person shall be denied any civil or political right, privilege, or capacity on account of his religious opinions; but the liberty of conscience hereby secured shall not be construed to dispense with oaths or affirmations, or excuse acts of licentiousness or justify polygamous or other pernicious practices, inconsistent with morality or the peace or safety of the state; nor to permit any person, organization, or association to directly or indirectly aid or abet, counsel or advise any person to commit the crime of bigamy or polygamy, or any other crime. No person shall be required to attend or support any ministry or place of worship, religious sect or denomination, or pay tithes against his consent; nor shall any preference be given by law to any religious denomination or mode of worship. Bigamy and polygamy are forever prohibited in the state, and the legislature shall provide by law for the punishment of such crimes.
Not only do the Knapps face 180 days in jail, they face fines of $1000 a day for defying these city officials. I have a sincere urge to say something very un-Christian right now, but will refrain. That’s more jail time than they give some child molesters. What happened to freedom of choice? Freedom of religion? Freedom, period? I guess separation of Church and the so-called State only applies when the powers-that-be want it to apply.
We have now started skidding down that slippery slope that the Progressives set up over gay marriage. Tolerance for thee, but not for me if I’m a Christian.
The Daily Signal had this to say about 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.
Governmental recognition of same-sex relationships as marriages need not and should not require any third party to recognize a same-sex relationship as a marriage. Government should respect the rights of all citizens. Indeed, a form of government respectful of free association, free contracts, free speech and free exercise of religion should protect citizens’ rights to live according to their beliefs about marriage.
The Knapps have been celebrating weddings in their chapel since 1989. Government should not now force them to shut down or violate their beliefs.
After all, protecting religious liberty and the rights of conscience does not infringe on anyone’s sexual freedoms. No one has a right to have the government force a particular minister to marry them. Some citizens may conclude that they cannot in good conscience participate in same-sex ceremonies, from priests and pastors to bakers and florists. They should not be forced to choose between strongly held religious beliefs and their livelihood.
I don’t see how the city of Coeur d’Alene can claim that forcing the Knapps to perform a same-sex wedding is a compelling government interest being pursued in the least restrictive way. There are numerous other ways where a same-sex couple could tie the knot. Indeed, there is a county clerks office directly across the street from the chapel.
CDA is taking a step many opponents of same-sex marriage feared would come – forcing those with religious objections to perform same-sex marriages or risk facing prosecution for violating non-discrimination laws. That day is now here and upon us. Christians and pastors must stand tough and together on this and not budge, for the sake of our churches, Christians and our faith.
My friend Bookworm Room perhaps put it best:
It’s important to add here that the Knapps, like my hypothetical Catholic priest, aren’t crazy people who came up with their religion yesterday, while shopping at the Piggly Wiggly, and included in their brand new faith core doctrines demanding ritual Barbie doll dismemberment, mandatory bestiality, and 100% tithing. The Knapps, like my hypothetical priest, are interpreting Christian religious doctrine as it has been interpreted for 2,000 years. They are interpreting Christian religious doctrine as it existed when the Founders enacted the First Amendment. They are interpreting Christian religious doctrine in a way that meshes with most religion’s core doctrinal points right up until the last 40 years, when a bunch of churches and synagogues ran off into the far reaches Leftist swamp lands.
Under the First Amendment, those faiths that wish to marry same-sex partners should be allowed to do so. And those churches that hew to traditional religious interpretations about marriage and do not wish to marry same-sex partners, should be left entirely alone — and that’s true whether they perform the marriage ritual for free or on a fee-for-service basis. The issue isn’t money; it’s faith.
When Queen Elizabeth I of England came to the throne after decades of religious strife, she famously refused to resume religious inquisitions, saying, instead, “I would not open windows into men’s souls.” What’s happening in Coeur d’Alene isn’t just opening a window into men’s souls, it’s interpretation of its own ordinance is a rock thrown directly through that window in an effort to destroy men’s faith entirely.
This is about principle and faith. Not only should the pastors tell the officials in Houston in regards to their sermons, “Come and take them!” The pastors in CDA need to tell their officials that they are making a stand and this is our Alamo.