Speaking of religious freedom: How about this Bro. Rapert? | Arkansas Blog

Speaking of religious freedom: How about this Bro. Rapert?


FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: United Church of Christ sued in North Carolina to preserve the ability to marry same-sex couples.
  • FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: United Church of Christ sued in North Carolina to preserve the ability to marry same-sex couples.

Thanks to Kathryn Joyce I learned of a landmark North Carolina court case in 2014 on same-sex marriage that might send some of our local right-wing religionists, still stirring a rear-guard action against marriage equality, into orbit.

After North Carolina banned same-sex marriage by state and constitutional amendment, the United Church of Christ, which supports same-sex marriage, sued because the state had criminalized a religious rite of that church. The government was saying a church could not follow its religious beliefs. Great stuff from Political Research Associates:

Along with same-sex couples, the plaintiffs included religious denominations and clergy from several traditions, including the Alliance of Baptists, the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis. The complaint continued:

The laws forbidding same-sex marriage tell Plaintiffs that their religious views are invalid and same-sex relationships are less worthy, thus humiliating each Plaintiff and denigrating the integrity and closeness of families and religious organizations, depriving Plaintiffs of the inclusive religious community of family units they wish to establish.

As a result, clergy in the UCC and fellow complainants, who routinely perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, could have been subject to criminal prosecution. “We didn’t bring this lawsuit to make others conform to our beliefs,” UCC general counsel Donald C. Clark, Jr. told The New York Times, “but to vindicate the right of all faiths to freely exercise their religious practices.”

The case had a complicated legal trajectory, but the final decision came from U.S. District Court Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr., who, after the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by the State of North Carolina in another case, declared in his written decision: “It is clear…that North Carolina laws…threatening to penalize those who would solemnize such marriages, are unconstitutional.”

This case did not fit the culture war narrative as promulgated by the Christian Right, wherein religious liberty debates simply pit secularism against Christianity. It demonstrated that religious freedom is neither owned, nor entirely defined, by the Christian Right.

Again, the June 26 U.S. Supreme Court decision doesn't require any church that opposes same-sex marriage to perform them. But it does prevent government from making the religion of SOME the law for ALL.

The article notes that the Christian Right's view is not shared by many important religions and religious leaders.

Elements of the Christian Right are now seeking to expand the definition of a religious organization, and the extent to which religious exemptions extend to individual beliefs and religious institutions. The contemporary Christian Right’s notion that individuals and institutions should have the right to choose which laws they will respect and which ones they won’t is arguably one of the more extraordinary developments in American legal history. They are not only claiming the right to be selective about complying with the law, but are also claiming the right to determine the criteria by which such decisions are made.

Nailed it.

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