Coeur d’Alene city officials to pastors: perform gay marriages or face jail, fines

From the Alliance Defending Freedom web site.


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.”

The Hitching Post Wedding Chapel is across the street from the Kootenai County Clerk’s office, which issues marriage licenses. The Knapps, both in their 60s and who themselves have been married for 47 years, began operating the wedding chapel in 1989 as a ministry. They perform religious wedding ceremonies, which include references to God, the invocation of God’s blessing on the union, brief remarks drawn from the Bible designed to encourage the couple and help them to have a successful marriage, and more. They also provide each couple they marry with a CD that includes two sermons about marriage, and they recommend numerous Christian books on the subject. The Knapps charge a small fee for their services.

Coeur d’Alene officials told the Knapps privately and also publicly stated that the couple would violate the city’s public accommodations statute once same-sex marriage became legal in Idaho if they declined to perform a same-sex ceremony at their chapel. On Friday, the Knapps respectfully declined such a ceremony and now face up to 180 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines for each day they decline to perform that ceremony.

This is freaking IDAHO for God’s sake. Thankfully the ADF is there to fight the case.

I guess part of me is surprised that in a country where so many people identify as Christians and attend church that such a thing would be possible.

First off, I credit Bible-centric pastors for failing to explain the issues of homosexuality and gay marriage in a way that their parishioners could make sense of it logically and evidentially. We never did that, so that’s why Christians had nothing to say to non-Christians when the issue came up OUTSIDE the church. We never learned from church leaders or our parents how to explain the problems with gay rights (Grindr app promiscuity, domestic violence, relationship instability, HIV spread, loss of free speech, loss of religious liberty, harm to children who are separated from their biological parents, etc.). All we learned to say at home and at church was “the Bible says”. That’s what 20 years of church prepares you to do. That’s what being raised in a Christian home prepares you to do.

“The Bible says” works great when you are a child in the Christian subculture, then you hit the university and it just dies. And pastors and parents know this, they just don’t care, because Christianity was like Santa Claus to them – it was about getting you to behave nicely as a child. It was never to make you kick ass like a William Lane Craig. It was never to make you into Stephen C. Meyer or an ADF attorney. It was just to make your parents’ life easier, as much as they try to cover it up with pious talk excusing them from their failed parenting effort.

Secondly, I think that the type of Christianity taught by parents and pastors is also to blame. They keep telling us that Christianity is about God helping you to feel good, and be nice to other people, so they like you. Everything is about feeling good here and now. Feelings. Compassion. Non-judgmentalism. Irrationality. Nothing is about truth, nothing is about facts, nothing is about conflict. We have witnessed the feminization of the church, and as a result, nobody has any response to the rhetoric of the gay rights people. If Christianity is about being nice, being liked and feeling good, then we have no resistance to the gay rights movement’s rhetoric which urges us to “be nice” so we can be liked, and feel good.

Declaring that morally wrong practices are actually morally good is only a virtue to those who want to be liked above all.

10 thoughts on “Coeur d’Alene city officials to pastors: perform gay marriages or face jail, fines”

  1. Why would a same sex couple want even be married by a pastor who is FORCED to marry them other then to basically slap him in the face and gloat that the pastor has to accept their intolerant bevavior. Intolerant in that the couple wouldn’t want someone to force them to do something they didn’t agree with, but it’s okay for them to do the same thing. It’s hypocritical, buts that’s the society we live in these days.


  2. Courts don’t have the right to make laws. Nor do the courts have the right to “override” a state’s constitution. State law trumps Federal law. People of Idaho and others who are being targeted by a conscious evil, I beg you to take a stand before this gets totally out of hand. (It’s out of control now but can still be stopped) Petition your governor(s). Start a grassroots group in your community. Do something, anything but don’t sit idling by thinking there’s nothing you can do, or the problem is to big.We all as Americans need to take a stand and get our Republic back. We are not a demock-racy! (pun intended).


  3. My friend Randy suggested this to pastors:

    “In one of my seminary courses, the prof brought up this type of an issue and said that’s why it’s in his church’s bylaws that only church members in good standing are allowed to hold ceremonies at their church. It’s austere, but it should circumvent these laws, at least for now.”


  4. Above all, I wish that people that operate businesses in the wedding service industry could simply say “no” to a same sex “wedding” and that would be the end of the it.

    That said, I do think there are better ways for those with such businesses to handle these kind of cases. Greg Koukl of STR has suggested ways to go about this that may likely end up with the same sex couple looking to do business elsewhere. So instead of the Knapp’s saying “no, we do not hold same sex weddings” it is the same sex couple saying “we will take our business elsewhere”. He suggests that they ask the same sex couple basic questions and then follow up simply to determine if this couple is really having a “wedding” at all as opposed to just looking to find someone to sue. He also suggests that after this first phone call or meeting that it is left to the same sex couple to follow up. Obviously, if they do not follow up…its over. If it turns out there is a “wedding” being planned for real and the couple does follow up, Mr. Koukl suggests asking questions such as “we understand this is a big day for you, do you want someone “marrying” you who can properly celebrate the day with you?” and then explaining that you may not be the best candidate because you believe that marriage is the union of man and woman. It is likely at this point that the same sex couple will say take their business elsewhere, and because it was their choice they will have no grounds to file a complaint.

    I think this strategy could be very effective and reducing the odds of facing a lawsuit…or jail and fines in this case. It is very effective at keeping those just looking for a fight away and if by chance the couple is for real…I think they are likely to walk away and not even try to file a suit. Granted, if they do, my hunch is they will win in court. At this point, it seems to me in the courts by and large that one will get whatever they want by simply claiming a homosexual identify regardless of the law, regardless of the facts, regardless of the merits. Again, above all it would just be better if “no” would suffice and no strategy was necessary.

    PS It would be very amusing if the Knapp’s had not said no and used the sermon portion to talk about marriage being the union of husband and wife and throughout never referred to the same sex couple as anything but partners along with never announcing them as married at all. Perhaps they could even say at the end where a couple is pronounced as husband and wife that they would normally make said announcement at this point in their ceremony but as there is no newly married couple present they cannot.


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