The Coeur d’Alene city attorney confirmed in a letter Monday that ordained ministers operating a for-profit wedding chapel are in violation of a city ordinance for declining to marry same-sex couples.
The letter states that “if they are providing services primarily or substantially for profit and they discriminate in providing those services based on sexual orientation then they would likely be in violation of the ordinance.” ADF attorneys representing Donald and Evelyn Knapp explain that the letter’s contention that the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel is a non-profit entity that would be exempt from the ordinance is false.
“The city has said explicitly, repeatedly, and publicly that it would prosecute a for-profit business. That’s what the Hitching Post is, and it has never claimed to be anything other than that,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “While the Knapps do operate a ministry, they charge a fee for the ceremonies in order to be able to make a modest living. Therefore, the city, in its letter and elsewhere, is admitting that it would prosecute these pastors, who are clearly under a present threat of being sent to jail, fined, or both. The city has had months to figure out its own ordinance, and our clients have years of incarceration and devastating fines hanging over their heads. The city’s disingenuous waffling is indefensible.”
The religious corporation document filed by the Knapps on Oct. 6 did not change the chapel to a non-profit entity. It continues to operate as a for-profit LLC.
City officials told the Knapps that he and his wife Evelyn, both ordained ministers, are required to perform such ceremonies or face months in jail and/or thousands of dollars in fines. The city repeatedly claimed 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.
There is no state-wide non-discrimination law in Idaho, but this local ordinance is there, and that’s what got them into trouble.
Another reason to live in a small town in a conservative state. It’s probably a good idea to go into a STEM field where this is less likely to be a problem. But you’re never really safe now.
Yesterday, I posted an article with advice for churches from the Alliance Defending Freedom. ADF is the premier defender of civil liberties in the country. The problem of big government attacking free speech and religious liberty in the name of gay “equality” is a real thing. Hope you are ready for the new rules.
A document provided to Breitbart News shows the investment banking behemoth JP Morgan Chase has joined a long line of major corporations in putting pressure on employees to sign up for the cause of gay rights. And they have not-so-subtly let each employee know not signing up will be noted.
Employees are being told “to help create an environment for open and honest dialogue.” The document notes descriptors such as “wife” and “boyfriend” are frowned upon, and “partner” is preferred. Not referring to your wife as your wife “offers up the opportunity for more inclusive conversations.”
[…]JP Morgan urges employees to “print and display your ally placard,” which implies the recalcitrant will be noticed.
The document tells employees to “explore your personal beliefs, use inclusive language, avoid making assumptions by asking conscientious questions, increase your awareness about issues impacting the gay community, include LGBT issues in your everyday life, attend events that celebrate diversity and inclusion, and speak out against hurtful comments.”
[…]Besides the gay pride placard each employee is supposed to display in their workspace, perhaps the most intrusive article in the documents calls upon employees to “include LGBT issues in your everyday life.” JP Morgan brass want employees to “include [LGBT issues] in your life and conversations, just as you would any other topic.”
Employees are urged to “take some time to listen to music, see movies or read books and magazines by and about gay people…there’s no substitute for knowledge.”
[…]This follows a controversy last year when JP Morgan Chase sent each employee a survey asking them if they were a “gay ally.” JP Morgan employees reached out anonymously to Breitbart News and other outlets about the pressure put on them to violate their own religious consciences.
Now imagine that you are working for this company or another like it and they are asking you to wear a symbol of the gay agenda on your desk. What exactly are you supposed to do, as an observant Christian, Muslim or Jew? Your Scriptures don’t condone you doing that, but your performance review or promotion may depend on being a “team player”. Should you violate your conscience for the sake of your career? Well, you might be tempted to do it if you were supporting a wife and several children, but maybe not if you were single. You might be tempted to do it if you had a lot of outstanding loans, like student loans . You’re more likely to have unpaid student loans if you chose to study something easy like English than if you studied petroleum engineering. You might feel more obligated to violate your conscience if you had many children, instead of just a few or none. You might feel more obligated to violate your conscience if you were making payments on an expensive house and/or an expensive car. You might feel more obligated to violate your conscience if you didn’t have a strong enough resume to get another job.
Do you see how all your life decisions fit in with this? Your freedom to honor your conscience or not depends on the decisions that you make. Your choice to do hard things instead of easy things will affect whether you have freedom to follow your conscience or not. The time is coming, and is now here, when your religious liberty will hinge on your seriousness about life decisions. Were you self-controlled? Were you self-disciplined? Were you self-sacrificial? Did you do things that you didn’t feel like doing in school, at work, and with money? If you were prudent and said no to fun, travel, spending, etc. then you can more easily afford to have religious liberty. Think about the threats before they happen, and make good decisions in your early life. Build yourself a castle with your decisions about education, work and money, so that you don’t have to care when non-Christians force you to choose between God and your belly.
Here are a few verses that were significant to me when I was in high school and college, and had to make the decisions that would either leave me with freedom or force me to comply with the JP Morgan Chase people in the world:
28 For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?
I think it’s always a good idea to think “how will I make decisions that allow me to achieve the practical result of what these verses are saying?” We want to be obedient to what God says, not to what our feelings say. It may feel good to indulge our feelings, but that never works if we are trying to be serious about achieving real-world results. Feelings only work in the movies.
You may recall Brendan Eich. The cofounder and CEO of Mozilla was dismissed from his company in 2014 when it was discovered that, six years earlier, he had donated $1,000 to California’s Proposition 8 campaign. That ballot initiative, limiting marriage to one man and one woman, passed with a larger percentage of the vote in California than Barack Obama received nationally in 2012. No one who knew Eich accused him of treating his gay coworkers badly—by all accounts he was kind and generous to his colleagues. Nonetheless, having provided modest financial support to a lawful ballot initiative that passed with a majority vote was deemed horrible enough to deprive Eich of his livelihood. Which is one thing.
What is quite another is the manner in which Eich has been treated since. A year after Eich’s firing, for instance, Hampton Catlin, a Silicon Valley programmer who was one of the first to demand Eich’s resignation, took to Twitter to bait Eich:
Hampton @hcatlin Apr 2
It had been a couple weeks since I’d gotten some sort of @BrendanEich related hate mail. How things going over there on your side, Brendan?
@hcatlin You demanded I be “completely removed from any day to day activities at Mozilla” & got your wish. I’m still unemployed. How’re you?
Hampton @hcatlin Apr 2
@BrendanEich married and able to live in the USA! . . . and working together on open source stuff! In like, a loving, happy gay married way!
It’s a small thing, to be sure. But telling. Because it shows that the same-sex marriage movement is interested in a great deal more than just the freedom to form marital unions. It is also interested, quite keenly, in punishing dissenters. But the ambitions of the movement go further than that, even. It’s about revisiting legal notions of freedom of speech and association, constitutional protections for religious freedom, and cultural norms concerning the family. And most Americans are only just realizing that these are the societal compacts that have been pried open for negotiation.
He co-founded the company, invented the most widely-used client-side programming language used on the Internet, and he had to step down for making a donation to the cause of male-female marriage. This guy is a hundred times the programmer that I will ever be. And yet he has not found a job since he was thrown out of the company that he co-founded and made successful.
That’s why I have an alias. Because I want to be able express my convictions about issues ranging from abortion to marriage to intelligent design to climate change without losing my job. I need my job to be able to help other Christians, and to have any chance at all of getting married and having children.
The Weekly Standard article traces the progress of the gay agenda, quoting from gay activists in Slate, The Daily Beast, The Atlantic, The Economist, The New Republic, etc.
Let’s look at one of them: Jonathan Rauch writing in The Daily Beast:
Then Rauch turned to the question of whether or not the creation of same-sex marriage was an obvious extension of liberty—as gay rights advocates have always insisted—or something much bigger:
Virtually all human societies, including our own until practically the day before yesterday, took as a given that combining the two sexes was part of the essence of marriage. Indeed, the very idea of a same-sex marriage seemed to most people a contradiction in terms. . . .
By contrast, marriage has not always been racist. Quite the contrary. People have married across racial (and ethnic, tribal, and religious) lines for eons, often quite deliberately to cement familial or political alliances. Assuredly, racist norms have been imposed upon marriage in many times and places, but as an extraneous limitation. Everyone understood that people of different races could intermarry, in principle. Indeed, that was exactly why racists wanted to stop it, much as they wanted to stop the mixing of races in schools. In both intent and application, the anti-miscegenation laws were about race, not marriage.
Why should this distinction matter today, if both kinds of discrimination are wrong? Because asking people to give up history’s traditional understanding of marriage is a big ask. You don’t expect thousands of years of unquestioned moral and social tradition to be relinquished overnight.
[…]The First Amendment carves out special protections for religious belief and expression. That does not mean, of course, that Christian homophobes can discriminate as much as they want provided they quote the Bible. It does mean, at least for a while, courts and legislatures will strike compromises balancing gay rights and religious liberty, something they did not have to do with black civil rights. This makes gay marriage more complicated—legally, socially, and even ethically—than interracial marriage. And it means gay-marriage supporters will hit a constitutional brick wall if we try to condemn our opponents to immediateand total perdition.
Got that? Gay activists do “expect thousands of years of unquestioned moral and social tradition to be relinquished” – just not overnight. Courts and legislatures can compromise on annihilating freedom of speech and religious liberty – at least for a while. The generous gay rights activists won’t condemn those of us who think that children need a mother and a father to immediate punishment of the sort that Brendan Eich got. Or the punishment that the Oregon bakery got. Or the punishment that the Washington florist got. Or the punishment that the New Mexico photographer got. Only some people will need to be punished – as an example to the others to fall in line.
Are you getting this? This is fascism.
There are three things to do to make it safe for people who believe in natural marriage to speak out without fear. First, never vote for any Democrats ever again, and make sure that the Republicans you vote for are supportive of religious liberty and free speech. Second, we need to get informed in order to be persuasive on the marriage issue. Read a book on pro-marriage apologetics. Read another book on the sociological evidence that shows the importance of mothers and fathers to children. And then read another book on the sociological evidence for the harm caused to children raised by same-sex parents. Then you will know what you have to know to be a change agent for marriage where you are. Finally, it’s never a bad idea to donate to the Alliance Defending Freedom, the team of lawyers who defend Christians in court.
Here is a story from The Daily Signal about the Christian bakers who are being sued for $135,000 for refusing to bake a gay couple a wedding cake.
The Daily Signal has exclusively learned that the government agency responsible for enforcing Oregon’s anti-discrimination law appears to be working closely with a powerful gay rights advocacy group in its case against Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa.
Communications between the agency, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, and the LGBT organization, Basic Rights Oregon, raise questions about potential bias in the state’s decision to charge the Kleins with discrimination for refusing to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.
In April, a judge for the agency recommended the Kleins be fined $135,000.
Communications obtained through a public records request show employees of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries—which pursued the case against the Kleins—participating in phone calls, texting, and attending meetings with Basic Rights Oregon, the largest LGBT advocacy group in the state.
[…][T]he Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries commissioner, who is in charge of determining the Kleins’ final punishment, met with Basic Rights Oregon on multiple occasions and purchased tickets costing hundreds of dollars benefiting the advocacy group.
[…]Communications between Bureau of Labor and Industries Commissioner Brad Avakian and Basic Rights Oregon, which has actively spoken out against the Kleins, raise questions about whether the commissioner and other agency employees were using the case to benefit a political agenda, and in the process, stripping the Kleins of their right to a fair trial.
According to emails, Avakian met with Basic Rights Oregon on multiple occasions.
One of those meetings was planned for May 1, 2014, shortly before a federal court struck down Oregon’s Defense of Marriage Act.
Another meeting between the commissioner and Basic Rights Oregon occurred on or around August 5, 2014. This fell between the time a judge denied the Kleins’ first attempt to disqualify the commissioner for bias and shortly before a hearing for the case was scheduled to begin.
So the government, which is supposed to be fair to everyone, is actually collaborating with advocacy groups to punish those who disagree with the advocacy groups. It reminds me of the targeting of Tea Party groups by the IRS. Big government, which is funded by the taxpayers, using their power to coerce and punish taxpayers.
Related to this story, I found another story in The Public Discourse, about how the Obama administration appointed gay rights activists to push the gay agenda in the public schools.
Through his executive appointments, President Obama has helped expose American schoolchildren to activism that places them at risk.
On May 19, 2009, a few short months after his inauguration, Obama gave the green light to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to appoint Kevin Jennings to a top position to influence school policy: the post of Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, also known as the “safe schools czar.” Jennings, a powerful LGBT rights activist who is himself a gay man, was the founder of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). GLSEN is one of the largest LGBT activist organizations in the nation and is devoted to promoting homosexuality in K-12 schools. Jennings served as “safe schools czar” from 2009-2011.
Given his connection with the organization, we should not be shocked to discover that GLSEN received a grant from the Centers for Disease Control in 2011 for $1.425 million over five years to promote the LGBT agenda in public schools at taxpayers’ expense. Through these publicly funded in-school programs, kids are being bombarded with the message that same-sex attraction and gender-identity confusion are innate and therefore not changeable.
[…]GLSEN knows that the elementary years are a prime opportunity to encourage kids to reject the values of their parents. The handbook outlines a variety of activities that gradually introduce and reinforce the messages that gender is a social construct, that moms and dads are interchangeable, and that anyone who says otherwise is hateful and prejudiced.
Along with lessons designed to help kindergarten through fifth-graders to “explore the definition of a family and to understand that there are a variety of family structures” and to “challenge their own and other’s [sic] assumptions about gender and gender roles,” the guide recommends a variety of books and videos to help cement the lessons.
Just think about how people on the secular left were so loud and passionate about pushing for separation of church and state, blocking even the slightest hint of free expression of religion. They didn’t want even a hint of government support for Christianity, and not a speck of Christianity in the public schools. But when the shoe is on the other foot, and the left is in power, they are only too happy to push their agenda in the schools and from the government-run censorship panels.
Here’s a post from Christian apologist Terrell Clemmons about efforts by gay activists to redefine Christianity so that it is consistent with homosexual behavior. This particular post is focused on Matthew Vines. NOTE: Matthew Vines has tweeted to say that he is not engaging in any sexual behavior, so we are criticizing his position, not his personal actions. I have updated my comments to make it about behavior, not Matthew.
In March 2012, two years after having set out to confront homophobia in the church, Matthew presented the results of his “thousands of hours of research” in an hour-long talk titled “The Gay Debate.” The upshot of it was this: “The Bible does not condemn loving gay relationships. It never addresses the issues of same-sex orientation or loving same-sex relationships, and the few verses that some cite to support homophobia have nothing to do with LGBT people.” The video went viral (more than three quarter million views to date) and Matthew has been disseminating the content of it ever since.
In 2013, he launched “The Reformation Project,” “a Bible-based, non-profit organization … to train, connect, and empower gay Christians and their allies to reform church teaching on homosexuality from the ground up.” At the inaugural conference, paid for by a $104,000 crowd-funding campaign, fifty LGBT advocates, all professing Christians, gathered for four days in suburban Kansas City for teaching and training, At twenty-three years of age, Matthew Vines was already becoming a formidable cause célèbre.
Terrell summarizes the case he makes, and here is the part I am interested in:
Reason #1: Non-affirming views inflict pain on LGBT people. This argument is undoubtedly the most persuasive emotionally, but Matthew has produced a Scriptural case for it. Jesus, in his well-known Sermon on the Mount, warned his listeners against false prophets, likening them to wolves in sheep’s clothing. Then switching metaphors he asked, “Do people pick grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?” The obvious answer is no, and Jesus’s point was, you can recognize a good or bad tree – and a true or false prophet – by its good or bad fruit. From this, Matthew concludes that, since non-affirming beliefs on the part of some Christians cause the bad fruit of emotional pain forother Christians, the non-affirming stance must not be good.
Terrell’s response to this is spot on, and I recommend you read her post to get the full response.
Matthew Vines in particular, and LGBTs in general, appear to be drivingly fixated on changing other people’s moral outlook. But why? Why are they distressed over the shrinking subset of Christianity that holds to the traditional ethic of sex? Note that Matthew found an affirming church in his hometown, as can most any LGBT-identifying Christian. Affirming churches abound. Gaychurch.org lists forty-four affirming denominations – denominations, not just individual churches – in North America and will help you find a congregation in your area. Why, then, given all these choices for church accommodation, are Matthew and the Reformers specifically targeting churches whose teachings differ from their own?
One gets the sense that LGBTs really, really need other people to affirm their sexual behavior. Certainly it’s human to want the approval of others, but this goes beyond an emotionally healthy desire for relational comity. Recall Matthew’s plea that non-affirming views on the part of some Christians cause emotional pain for others. He, and all like-minded LGBTs, are holding other people responsible for their emotional pain. This is the very essence of codependency.
The term came out of Alcoholics Anonymous. It originally referred to spouses of alcoholics who enabled the alcoholism to continue unchallenged, but it has since been broadened to encompass several forms of dysfunctional relationships involving pathological behaviors, low self-esteem, and poor emotional boundaries. Codependents “believe their happiness depends upon another person,” says Darlene Lancer, an attorney, family therapist, and author of Codependency for Dummies. “In a codependent relationship, both individuals are codependent,” says clinical psychologist Seth Meyers. “They try to control their partner and they aren’t comfortable on their own.”
Which leads to an even more troubling aspect of this Vinesian “Reformation.” Not only are LGBT Reformers not content to find an affirming church for themselves and peacefully coexist with everyone else, everyone else must change in order to be correct in their Christian expression.
This is the classic progression of codependency, and efforts to change everyone else become increasingly coercive. We must affirm same-sex orientation, Matthew says. If we don’t, we are “tarnishing the image of God [in gay Christians]. Instead of making gay Christians more like God … embracing a non-affirming position makes them less like God.” “[W]hen we reject the desires of gay Christians to express their sexuality within a lifelong covenant, we separate them from our covenantal God.”
Do you hear what he’s saying? LGBTs’ relationships with God are dependent on Christians approving their sexual proclivities. But he’s still not finished. “In the final analysis, then, it is not gay Christians who are sinning against God by entering into monogamous, loving relationships. It is we who are sinning against them by rejecting their intimate relationships.” In other words, non-affirming beliefs stand between LGBTs and God. Thus sayeth Matthew Vines.
The rest of her article deals with Vines’ attempt to twist Scripture to validate sexual behavior that is not permissible in Christianity.
One of the things I love about Terrell is that I am so used to Christian women, especially single Christian women, being incredibly wishy washy and lame on every issue you can imagine to Christians, from foreign policy, to economics, to business, to abortion, to same-sex marriage. Just absolutely dominated by the secular culture, straight down the line. That’s why Terrell’s article was like water in the desert for me.
I think the trouble with Vines needing affirmation stems directly from his advocacy of sexual behaviors not permitted by Christian teaching, which naturally result in a desire to get people to approve of it, so that the sinner can delude himself into thinking that what he is doing is not wrong. I.e. – if I can get lots of people to agree with me and silence those who disagree then what I am doing will be right. I am a chaste man now in my late 30s. I have not so much as kissed a woman on the lips. There is no celebration for what I am doing, not even in the church. Most of the Christian women I meet think that the purpose of relationships of is for the man to make the woman happy, or else she can divorce him and take all his wealth and future earnings. But you don’t see me complaining that people need to validate my choice to be chaste. And the reason is, that even if the entire world were against me, the morality of chastity is self-authenticating. It doesn’t matter how many people make me feel bad about what I am doing, I have the direct experience of doing the right thing – and it comes out in the way that I love women upward, giving them my whole heart.
Matthew Vines is annoyed that we expect homosexuals to work through their same-sex attractions, abstain from premarital sex, and then either remain chaste like me, or marry one person of the opposite sex and then confine his/her sexual behavior to his/her marriage. But how is that different than what is asked of me? I have opposite sex-attractions (boy, do I!), but I am also expected to abstain from premarital sex, and either remain chaste, or marry one woman for life, and confine my sexual behavior to that marriage. If I have to exercise a little self-control to show God that what he wants from me is important to me, then I am willing to do that.
Believe me, I understand what it is like to be without a woman’s love and support. I started out with a cold, distant, selfish, career-oriented mother. I dreamed about marriage since I was in high school – I remember praying about my future wife, even then. No one that I know has a stronger need for validation and encouragement from a woman than I do. Yet if I have to let that go in order to let God know that what he wants matters to me, then I will do it. I have been rejected by women because they refused to understand that what God has entrusted me with (education, career, wealth, health) is NOT for them to control for their own enjoyment. I am open to a woman telling me, logically and with supporting evidence, how to use my resources (or pool our resources) to serve God better. But I am not willing to marry if it means that the resources that God has entrusted to me will be redirected to fun and thrills, as her feelings dictate. I already have a Boss. I am not the boss. I don’t need a different boss. My relationships, if I am going to have any, are going to reflect what God wants, not what I want, and not what she wants.
My service to God is not conditional on me getting my needs met. And my needs and desires are no less strong than the needs of people who engage in sex outside the boundaries of Christian teaching. We just make different decisions about what/who comes first. For me, Jesus is first, because I have sympathy with Jesus for loving me enough to die in my place, for my sins. I am obligated to Jesus, and that means that my responsibility to meet expectations in our relationship comes above my desire to be happy and fulfilled. For Matthew, the sexual needs come first, and Scripture has to be reinterpreted in light of a desire to be happy. I just don’t see anything in the New Testament that leads me to believe that we should expect God to fulfill our desires. The message of Jesus is about self-denial, self-control and putting God the Father first – even when it results in suffering. I take that seriously. That willingness to be second and let Jesus lead me is what makes me an authentic Christian.
Matthew Vines and Michael Brown had a debate on the Bible and homosexuality, and I summarized it and commented on it in this post. Note that at the time of writing, I thought that Vines was engaged in the behaviors he was advocating for. There is also a good debate featuring Robert Gagnon and a gay activist in this post. There’s another debate between Michael Brown and Eric Smaw in this post.