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One Year Later: How Many Pastors Have Been Forced to Marry Same-Sex Couples?

jerry falwell jr and donald trump
Fundamentalist Baptist Jerry Falwell, Jr. and Christian Donald Trump

A year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, invalidating federal and state laws that defined marriage solely as the union of a man and a woman. Evangelical, Catholic, and Mormon culture warriors warned that the Supreme Court’s ruling would pave the way for forcing pastors, priests, and elders to marry same-sex couples. Warning that pastors would soon be jailed for refusing to perform such marriages, these defenders of heterosexual marriage began working at the state level to pass laws that would exempt pastors, priests, and elders from marrying gay couples. These hysterical laws were/are little more than lame attempts by conservative (Republican) legislators to show Evangelical voters that they are still battling the secularists and atheists who want to outlaw Christianity.

Remember Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas, saying:

That [refusing to perform same-sex marriages] may mean we experience jail time, loss of tax exempt status, but as the scripture says, we ought to obey God rather than man, and that’s our choice.

Or Baptist pastor Rick Scarborough telling a radio audience:

…[the clergy must] resist all government efforts to require them to accept gay marriage, and they will accept any fine and jail time to protect their religious freedom and the freedom of others.

And former Presidential candidate and Baptist preacher Mike Huckabee warning pastors:

If the courts rule that people have a civil right – not only to be a homosexual but a civil right to have a homosexual marriage – then a homosexual couple coming to a pastor, who believes in Biblical marriage, who says, ‘I can’t perform that wedding,’ will now be breaking the law.

Ominous, indeed. Surely, a year later scores of pastors have been arrested and jailed for refusing to perform same-sex marriages, right?

Just today, Americans United For Separation of Church and State — a group I proudly support — posted a list of those pastors arrested and jailed for refusing to marry same-sex couples. Are you ready to see the list? Here it is:

number of pastors arrested

That’s right, not one pastor has been arrested or jailed for refusing to marry a same-sex couple. Why? Because it has NEVER been against the law to do so. Pastors, priests, and elders have always been free to refuse to perform the marriage ceremonies of couples who do not meet their personal or ecclesiastical marriage standards. Sects, churches, and pastors are free to marry whomever they wish. As long as the U.S. Constitution remains in its current form, conservative Christian churches will have the legal right to not only refuse to marry same-sex couples, but also to bar gays from being members of their congregations. Evangelicals, Catholics, and Mormons — along with every other religious sect — are free to discriminate at will.

Evangelical blowhards such as Robert Jeffress, Rick Scarborough, and Mike Huckabee are shameless liars for Jesus. These culture warriors only care about one thing, political power. This is why these very same men spent yesterday on their knees — not praying — but performing fellatio on Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump. These warriors are so shameless that they have convinced themselves that Trump is a Christian. Several months ago, Jerry Falwell, Jr. stated unequivocally  that Trump is a member of Team Jesus®:

I’ve seen his generosity to strangers, to his employees, his warm relationship with his children. I’m convinced he’s a Christian. I believe he has faith in Jesus Christ. I’ve had conversations with him just within the past few weeks about his faith, and I have no doubts he is a man of faith and he’s a Christian.

Evangelicals are busy now with plans to put “Christian” Trump in the Oval Office. Once their candidate is thoroughly trounced by Hillary Clinton, these liars for Jesus will return to the culture battlefield, once again trying to capitalize on the fears of their constituents. War on Christmas! Transgender Bathroom Use! Homosexuals Preying on Children! Prayer in the Public Schools! Creationism! President Clinton Taking Away Religious Freedom!

As in past years, pastors and church leaders will indeed be arrested, but not for marrying same-sex couples. These men of God will make the front pages of their local newspapers, arrested for crimes such as child abuse, sexual abuse, rape, sexual misconduct, and sundry other crimes. These issues will be shoved under the rug, replaced by fake outrages and boycotts. These liars for Jesus will continue to reveal that at the heart of conservative Christianity lies hatred, bigotry, homophobia, and racism.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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  1. Pingback:Theology-related quote for the day | Civil Commotion

  2. Avatar

    Out of curiosity, how many pastors, or anyone for that matter, were arrested for refusing to perform marriages for black people who wanted to get married to white people after the Loving v. Virginia case? Maybe there were some, but I don’t recall ever hearing about them.

    Refusing to marry a black person violates the constitutional rights of both the black person and the white person.

    I could argue that if a government official refuses to marry a homosexual couple who belongs to a religion that does not “believe” it is a sin for such marriages, the government is violating the homosexual’s religious beliefs by not allowing them to get married so they can practice their religion (in this scenario, the religious belief is that homosexual sex is not a sin if the sex is between married homosexuals, but is a sin without marriage).

    • Avatar
      Karen the rock whisperer

      “Refusing to marry a black person violates the constitutional rights of both the black person and the white person.”

      Depends on who’s doing the refusing. If you’re refusing to do a religious marriage, that isn’t a constitutional violation. If you’re a government official (like a judge) doing the refusal, you totally ARE violating the constitutional rights of those people.

      My husband is a big, big advocate of separating the religious and civil institutions of marriage in the US. As far as he’s concerned, any (Joe and Mary) (Joe and Joseph) (Mary and Miriam) should be able to sign an agreement and have all the rights we currently bestow legally on married couples. He would choose to not call it marriage; he likes the term ‘civil union’, though most people have trouble with that. Churches could bestow marriages upon whatever people they like; such would have no legal effect. With a civil union, you get the economic benefits of what we now call marriage. Without it, you’re still single in the eyes of the law. With a marriage, you’ve done whatever your religious creed calls for you to do to be connected with your spouse, but the government doesn’t give a rat’s patootie.

      Not sure I agree with his extreme position, but I totally understand where he’s coming from.

      • Avatar

        Julianne Moore and Ellen Page in ‘Freeheld’ tell the story of their fight for basic rights in relationship. Karen, I bet your husband would be interested in that one, though it is more focussed on the secular side of the chokehold, the narrow attitudes of Real Men ©. I felt the film was a bit on the blatant side in the film-making, not layered well at all but it certainly documents an important contemporary issue.

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