As I was reading about Maine becoming the 5th state to allow same sex marriage I came across a quote from a Republican Senator that caught my eye:
Republican Sen. Debra Plowman of Hampden argued that the bill was being passed “at the expense of the people of faith.”¹
That statement left me completely baffled as to how same sex marriage is at the expense of people of faith….which faith, whose faith? I pulled up the Declaration of Independence and re-read it and nowhere did I find Christianity or religion mentioned. And nowhere in the Constitution do I find a statement indicating this is a “Christian” nation or that Christians were guaranteed the right to institute law according to their faith and interpretation of the Bible.
Freedom of religion also guarantees us freedom from religion….otherwise the freedom would only be for those who were part of a specific established religion. If I don’t have freedom to not participate in your religion then I am in fact not free at all, I am not free to support any one of non-traditional, non-mainstream religions or no religion at all.
I’ve seen the accusation thrown around that same sex marriage persecutes Christians. Well, no it really doesn’t. The same article that contained the above quote from Sen. Plowman also has a quote from the Senate Majority Leader:
But Senate Majority Leader Philip Bartlett II said the bill does not compel religious institutions to recognize gay marriage.
“We respect religious liberties. … This is long overdue,” said Bartlett, D-Gorham.²
Laws to allow same sex marriage in no way compel churches to marry homosexuals. As always, churches maintain the right to refuse to marry any couple for any reason. In the past many churches refused to marry any one who had been divorced. Of course that has changed in most churches, probably due to the research by The Barna Research Group, an evangelical Christian organization who studied divorces in America. It’s research revealed some rather striking results….Baptists had the highest rate of divorce (29%), followed closely by all born again Christians (27%) The lowest rate of divorce was a tie between ATHEISTS and Catholics and Lutherans (21%).
I bring up those divorce statistics because they speak to something Jefferson said in the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, i.e. that attempts to coerce others to follow certain religious tenants tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness.
Jefferson made it very clear that there was to be a separation of church and state and why anyone would find that to be problematic is beyond comprehension. Which of the Christian religions would Christians have the state support…….the Catholic Church, the Baptist Church, Church of God, the first Christian Church of snake handlers? Seriously, what sect of Christianity should be the state sponsored Church? I contend that none of them should be.
Escape from religious persecution was one of the reasons the early settlers of this country left England for the New World….and then they proceeded to persecute others for their religious beliefs. In Virgina the Church of England (Anglican) was largely favored and conflict with Baptists, Presbyterians and others ensued. The conflict was eventually settled by the Anglican church being disestablished and separated from the government. Ultimately, in 1786, Jefferson, Madison and Mason produced the Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom, which firmly set forth principles that separated state power from church affairs:
Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1786)
Jefferson drafted the following measure, but it was Madison who secured its adoption by the Virginia legislature in 1786. It is still part of modern Virginia’s constitution, and it has not only been copied by other states but was also the basis for the Religion Clauses in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Both men considered this bill one of the great achievements of their lives, and Jefferson directed that on his tombstone he should not be remembered as president of the United States or for any of the other high offices he held, but as the author of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and as the founder of the University of Virginia.
Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitation, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as it was in his Almighty power to do; that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavouring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and through all time; that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor, whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the ministry those temporary rewards, which proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labours for the instruction of mankind; that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry; that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow-citizens he has a natural right; that it tends only to corrupt the principles of that religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though indeed these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion, and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own; that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them:
Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.
And though we well know that this assembly elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding assemblies, constituted with powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act to be irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present, or to narrow its operation, such act shall be an infringement of natural right.
Source: W.W. Hening, ed., Statutes at Large of Virginia, vol. 12 (1823): 84-86.
I believe that anyone who has a problem with gay marriage has the right under the constitution to not marry a homosexual and to not attend a church that marries homosexuals. That’s what freedom is all about….what it is NOT about is imposing your belief system on others, bending them to your will. Believe it or not, NOT everything is about Christians. It just really isn’t. Nobody is sitting around plotting to force Christians to turn gay, or have abortions or even vote for a certain American Idol star who is rumored to be gay. Let me repeat…..Christians, NOT EVERYTHING IN THIS WORLD IS ABOUT YOU. I don’t care if you endeavor to prove your holiness with wearing long skirts, or by bearing 20 children, or handling snakes. I just don’t care. What I do care about is your attempt to make everything about you, your efforts to legislate your belief system and your obnoxious habit of claiming to be holier than thou.
Even AS a Christian I’m tired of the Ted Haggards, Jimmy Swaggerts and Jim Bakkers. I’m sick of the whining about being persecuted….seriously, get back to me about persecution when your church is forced to close and your Bibles are confiscated, until that time you aren’t being persecuted, you are basically being ignored. And I think that’s what really galls you, you are no longer in charge and your efforts to keep women barefoot and pregnant and homosexuals in the closet have been defeated. I suggest you clean up the unholy mess within the church before you try to tell the rest of the world how to live.
¹ and ² SOURCE