Why this minister is kind of right, but also really wrong
April 10, 2012
During a recent trip to North Carolina to represent CFI at Duke University and at Rock Beyond Belief, I learned about amendment one. There were several activists on campus at Duke, and some people wearing “NO on Amendment One” shirts at the concert, so I asked them what that meant and they summarized it well. I looked into it further: “The measure would define marriage in the state as between one man and one woman. Same-sex marriage is already banned in the state of North Carolina. The proposed measure, however, would add the ban to the state constitution” (from Ballotpedia).
I’m not surprised that this legislation exists, but I have been surprised by opposition to the measure from religious groups. I know that every denomination is different, and I even went to a church with openly gay members, but I frequently see religious groups talking about how GAY (shriek!) is ruining the sanctity of marriage, and making other anti-gay claims ad nauseam. Perhaps this is another good sign for the advancement of gay rights among traditionally anti-gay demographics.
Of course, there are plenty of people available to get mad at their fellow Christians for not supporting the measure. Here’s one! This guy is mad about two things. First: churches are going against the “truth of God from His Word” because “the Bible’s unequivocal teaching” is that the Takeis can’t get married. Second: none of “the famous “separation” activists” are appearing to “scream Separation of Church and State” as the author implies the activists (we—heh) usually do.
The first thing he’s mad about is easy to address: the Bible says a lot of things that people don’t follow because it advocates for violence, treachery, and all sorts of immoral and insane things. I know, I know, you still think “gay” is one of the things that is EXTRA bad, but a lot of people disagree with you (even ones who dig the Bible) which is why there is a shift in current society and LGBTQ people are gaining rights. There is still hate, prejudice, discrimination, and unequal rights for LGBTQ individuals, but things are trending toward acceptance, to speak generally, and we are seeing more states legalizing gay marriage.
The second part can still be addressed, but here is where the author is kind of right. Churches are not supposed to use their influence to advocate for political matters, policy, etc. Of course, we can justify why we (those who support the separation of church and state) aren’t going after churches and clergy that are sharing their feelings about their opposition to amendment one. That’s easy: unlike many other political issues in which churches and religious groups get involved, this time they are supporting the side that we think is the moral one. We think it is immoral to deny rights. We secular activists think it is especially immoral to deny rights based on the teaching of Bible, which, as previously stated, advocates for some terrible things. Going after churches for using their influence to promote pro-LGBTQ legislation would be shooting ourselves in our progressive feet, but if someone else wants to point out that churches aren’t supposed to do this, I can’t deny that they’re right.
Here’s the thing: I don’t think that conservative right-wingers are going to go after liberal churches over them advocating for progressive legislation. They might complain about how these other religious people aren’t doing it right, but if they were to “scream Separation of Church and State” then they would be forced to recognize that secular governments are the most just for the most people, which we know won’t happen. Conservative religious folks tend to want religion in schools, courts, and so on, so they’re not going to contact CFI or AU or SCA about separation issues any time soon (or probably ever). But they are going to whine and blog about it, and occasionally a secular activist like myself will comment on it.
As a side note, I like how Milton sneaks in some more commentary presumably meant to equate gay with being evil and icky:
“One familiar with the Bible’s unequivocal teaching that God ordained marriage is solely between one man and one woman, as well as the Bible’s condemnation of adultery, fornication, homosexual acts, and incest, might be confused by this Baptist church’s position.”
Because if you’re okay with same-sex marriage, people might think you’re also okay with adultery, incest, bestiality, and who knows what else! Oh yeah, this guy is definitely voting Santorum.
Feel free to post your own thoughts in the comments!
About the Author: Dren Asselmeier
Dren Asselmeier does student outreach as a campus organizer at the Center for Inquiry. She got her start as an organizer while interning at Center for Inquiry–Michigan in 2008. She stayed until 2010 as a volunteer campus coordinator, and was CFI–Michigan Freethinker of the Year in 2009, as well as president of Center for Inquiry–Grand Valley State University. Dren has a B.A. in English from Grand Valley State University. She is the president of Buffalo Area Non-Profit Professionals, an event volunteer at Buffalo Subversive Theatre, and a contributor to the Buffalo Storyteller Hour.