Trditional Marriage News

Thursday, October 30, 2014
October 29, 2014|10:44 am | The Christian Post| 

A panel of Christian leaders sounded off on the current state marriage and the distorted view young adults have of its meaning at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission's National Conference held this week in Nashville.

Today's generation has "a romanticized vision and understanding of marriage where marriage is just basically the government's affirmation of romantic love between two willing people and some sort of commitment there," said Trevin Wax, managing editor of The Gospel Project.

Wax declared that this definition is not only dominate in popular culture, but "I think that sort of reduced understanding of marriage is already prevalent in evangelical churches."

The panelists explained that the only way to counter this "reduced understanding" is for churches to start teaching and re-teaching what love and marriage means in the context of the Bible and society.

"It's time to start rebuilding marriage. Stop talking about defending it and rebuild it," John Stonestreet, a fellow of the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, told conference goers. "There's not much left to defend on a cultural level."

Though polls have shown that many singles desire to be married, the panelists agreed the romanticized belief of what marriage is has led many young adults to avoid commitment and delay marriage.

Lindsay Swartz, manager of Christian women's resource blog, explained that many young adults are so fixated on finding romantic love that they are afraid to "pull the trigger" because "they don't want to commit to something because something better might come along and they don't want to settle."

Children of divorced parents also tend to delay marriage, Stonestreet said.

He opined "I think one of the reasons why marriage has declined is because you do have some well-intentioned Millennials who have been through the trauma – and they'll use that word – trauma of divorce when they were kids who don't want to make that mistake. The irony is though they ramp up the romantic new definition of marriage in the process of trying to avoid that – so we're going to co-habitat ahead of time, we'll give this a trial run, we're going to post-pone and delay here until we're absolutely sure that whatever romantic longings and feelings we have for each other is going to be good enough to sustain us over the long haul. So instead of seeing that part of the divorce culture came about from this (romanticized) re-definition of marriage, they're actually clinging even fiercer to that redefinition as they're trying not to repeat the mistakes of their parents."

Those who are married have no concept of the social and personal responsibilities that come with the union, he said. Wax noted that among older generations, marriage was "oriented towards procreation" as well as family stability and the common good. Newer generations, he believes, have moved away from that notion and are more private.

"The destruction of our understanding of marriage and family has real consequences for our kids, our economy and for the future of society as a whole." said Eric Teetsel, executive director of the Manhattan Declaration. Teetsel said scientific studies shows children do best in a home with a biological mom and dad. When children are raised under a different set of circumstances, Teetsal said it costs taxpayers "billions and billions of dollars" to subsidize those broken families.

Panelists agreed the solution is better teaching. Wax admonished church leaders for not reaching out to singles in their congregations. "We now live in a culture where I think the stats [now show] more people are single then are not single especially in a lot of urban environments, especially when you look at younger generations. The church has been slow to really wrestle with that reality because that's not what we have prepared for," he said.

Both Swartz and Stonestreet urged the church to give young adults a view of faithful, long-lasting marriages. "I would just tell churches to teach it and model it and invite singles in and young married couples too and pray for it," advised Swartz.

"One of the things we do in church is we divvy out everybody out by generation," Stonestreet said. "One way to model (successful marriage)t is to put together generations."

Stonestreet, Wax, Swartz and Teetsel were panelists for a talk entitled "Millennials And Marriage: Evaluating The Younger Generation's Views On Sexuality And Marriage" held on Monday, the first day of the three-day conference. The discussion was one of several discussions about the gospel, homosexuality and the future of marriage hosted by the ERLC National Conference.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014
October 24, 2014|5:52 pm | The Christian Post| 

WASHINGTON — Gay marriage proponents will not allow for religious freedom of their political opponents because their belief system does not allow for the fact that dissenters can be reasonable people of goodwill, Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, argued at the Institute on Religion and Democracy's 2014 Diane Knippers Memorial Lecture.

Most of those arguing in favor of redefining marriage to include same-sex couples do not understand, or even know, the arguments of those who oppose the redefinition of marriage, George claimed. They assume there are no reasonable arguments against gay marriage and those who oppose it are simply driven by hatred of gays.

"The whole [gay marriage] argument was and is that the idea of marriage as the union of husband and wife lacks a rational basis and amounts to nothing more than 'bigotry,' reflecting animus against a certain group of people," he said. "Therefore, no reasonable person of goodwill, we are told, can dissent from the liberal position on sex and marriage, any more than a reasonable person of goodwill could support racial segregation and subordination. You've heard the analogy drawn a thousand times. And this is because marriage, according to the re-definers, consists principally of companionship — the companionship of people committed to mutual affection and care. Any distinctions beyond this one they condemn as baseless."

The idea of marriage as a conjugal relationship between a husband and wife has a long history, George explained, as a variety of philosophers and religious traditions have recognized its importance for society, including Plato, Aristotle and Gandhi. But those who wish to redefine marriage seek to throw out that rich tradition while not even understanding the arguments in favor of that tradition. Instead, he continued, they understand marriage to be simply based upon romance, but do not put forth arguments as to why government should recognize romantic relationships.

Same-sex marriage proponents "uncritically, then, not knowing what they're rejecting, not knowing what the alternative is, conceive marriage precisely as sexual-romantic companionship or domestic partnership, laying aside, ignoring altogether, its defining social purpose, imagining somehow, I suppose, that the law has some interest in people's romantic relationships just as such. What that interest could be, none of my friends on the other side have ever managed to actually express a view about. And yet, we are told, marriage must be 'expanded,' or, in truth, redefined, or, perhaps in greater truth, abolished or replaced with, a conception of 'marriage' as sexual romantic companionship or domestic partnership, because they can't fathom how any reasonable person of goodwill can understand it in any other way," George said.

Since those proponents of redefining marriage do not know or understand the arguments in favor of the traditional definition of marriage, he continued, they jump to the conclusion that there is no rational reason to disagree with them. And since those same-sex marriage proponents view those who dissent from the liberal orthodoxy as bigots, or the equivalent of racists, they have no reason to support the religious freedom of dissenters.

While some liberals and conservatives believe there can be a "grand bargain" in which gay marriage is allowed and the religious freedom of dissenters is supported, George pointed out that he has long argued that could never be the case, because liberal secularism is a comprehensive doctrine in competition with other comprehensive doctrines.

"Liberal secularism," he said, "never was and never will be what the late John Rawls depicted it as being and hoped it would be, namely, a purely political doctrine, as opposed to what he called a comprehensive view (a view of human nature, meaning, dignity, and destiny) that competes with other comprehensive views.

"Nowhere is the reality of contemporary liberalism as a comprehensive doctrine, a secularist religion, more plainly on display than in the moral-cultural struggle over marriage and sexual morality. Liberal secularism will tolerate other comprehensive views so long as they present no challenge or serious threat to its own most cherished values. The Amish are probably safe. But when they do, they must be smashed, in the name, for example, of 'equality' or preventing 'dignitarian harm,' and their faithful must be reduced to a dhimmi-like status in respect of opportunities, in employment, contracting, and other areas, that, from the point of view of liberal secularist doctrine, cannot be made available to them if they refuse to conform themselves to the demands of liberal ideology."

There are some liberals, George added, that do still value religious freedom, tolerance and diversity who have spoken out against the liberals who have sought to punish or restrict the religious freedom of those who dissent from the liberal orthodoxy on marriage and sexuality. But he believes those tolerant liberals will ultimately lose their battle against intolerant liberals.

"Of course, there will be some within the liberal community, Rawlsians and others, who will try to make some room for meaningful dissent, even in practice and not just in thought and speech. And they will make various arguments, principled and practical, for why [liberals] should avoid being too draconian in its treatment of heretics and dissenters. But they will lose the battle," he said.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014
October 28, 2014|7:07 am | The Christian Post| 

Day one of a three-day conference hosted by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Commission discussing how Christians should react to the ongoing battle between those framing the homosexual lifestyle debate as a civil rights issue and those supporting what they believe to be biblical moral values, including traditional marriage, featured plenty of fireworks — most happening online through social media.

More than 1,200 are attending the ERLC conference which began on Monday. The conference, themed "The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage" is taking place in Nashville and offered by live stream over the Internet.

"Gotta be careful of making idols out of marriage and procreation when Scripture / Christ do not do so. #ERLC2014," tweeted Rachel Held Evans, author of Faith Unraveled. Evans was one of several Twitter users dishing up a steady volley of criticism over the ERLC conference.

However, Dr. Richard Land, former president of ERLC, observed that the conference is primarily serving a Southern Baptist audience concerned about its response to the political climate regarding gay issues, including the growing acceptance of gay marriage.

"First of all, the gay community is never going to find the Evangelical response satisfactory because we're not going to accept their behavior," Land told The Christian Post. "But I think the first day of the conference did a good job of putting this in the context that same-sex attraction and behavior is but one of many aspects of the fall [of mankind]."

Land, who is the president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the executive editor of CP, went on to explain, "All sexual behavior that is outside of heterosexual marriage is a manifestation of the fall, and the fact that we are fallen creatures and this is the way fallen creatures behave. This is what God sent Christ to redeem us from — [as shown] from Genesis 3:15 forward.

"We are not singling out same-sex attraction. It was very clear in the conference on the first day, that this is one of the manifestations of the fall along with adultery, living together without matrimony, pornography, etc., etc., all of it."

Zack Ford, editor of Think Progress' LGBT section, who attended the event, was tweeting at a steady clip from the gay perspective.

"Ironic that @EricTeetsel and panel are ENCOURAGING marriage when we gays WANT to marry, but they oppose that. #ERLC2014," tweeted Ford.

Land said the Christian community is concerned about "the rapidity with which Christians have been engulfed by this tidal wave of same-sex marriage imposed by the courts, and they are looking for answers as to how they can respond in a biblical and Christian way that is faithful to the Gospel. Clearly this conference has touched a nerve and has met a need within the Body."

When asked by CP about the argument made by some people critical of the conference, including Evans, saying that it was not inclusive of gays in participation, Land answered, "As long as you have Scripture, you have all the resources you need. I would suspect that most of the people at the conference and most who planned it would be upset if Rachel Held Evans was pleased. If she were pleased with the conference most of the people there would be unhappy."

Monday, October 27, 2014
October 26, 2014|11:08 am | The Christian Post| 


The city of Coeur d'Alene in Idaho has reportedly realized that a for-profit wedding chapel owned by Christian ministers Donald Knapp and his wife, Evelyn, can refuse to perform same-sex marriages without violating "non-discrimination" laws.

The city earlier maintained that its "non-discrimination" ordinance requires the Knapps, who run Hitching Post Wedding Chapel, to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies because the courts have overridden Idaho's voter-approved constitutional amendment that affirmed marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

The couple needed to be a not-for-profit to be exempt from the ordinance §9.56, which bars facilities of public accommodation from discrimination, the city had said.

However, Coeur d'Alene city attorney Mike Gridley now says the ordinance doesn't specify non-profit or for-profit, according to Boise State Public Radio.

"After we've looked at this some more, we have come to the conclusion they would be exempt from our ordinance because they are a religious corporation," Gridley was quoted as saying.

The Hitching Post reorganized earlier this month as a "religious corporation," according to court filings, which includes owners' description as having deeply held beliefs that marriage should be between a man and a woman, the Public Radio reports.

Jeremy Tedesco, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal organization, told The Christian Post earlier that while Coeur d'Alene has an ordinance saying that under "public accommodation" businesses cannot discriminate, state law offers a possible exemption for the Knapps.

"In addition to our federal claims (i.e. First Amendment), our complaint brings a cause of action under the Idaho Free Exercise of Religion Protected Act," Tedesco said. "[Under] Idaho Code § 73–401 et seq., this state law says 'government shall not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion ...'"

ADF attorneys have filed a federal lawsuit and a motion for temporarily restraining Coeur d'Alene city officials from forcing them to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies.

The city is "unconstitutionally coercing" the Knapps to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies "in violation of their religious beliefs, their ordination vows, and their consciences," the lawsuit states.

The couple, both in their 60s, can either violate their religious convictions and ministerial vows by performing gay wedding ceremonies or follow their religious convictions and vows by declining to perform such ceremonies and face up to 180 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines, it adds.

"Worse, each day the Knapps decline to perform a requested same-sex wedding ceremony, they commit a separate and distinct misdemeanor, subject to the same penalties. Thus, if the Knapps decline a same-sex wedding ceremony for just one week, they risk going to jail for over 3 years and being fined $7,000," the lawsuit explains.

According to the ordinance, this discrimination can include denying "any person because of sexual orientation and/or gender identity/expression, the full enjoyment of any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities or privileges of any place of public resort, accommodation, assemblage, or amusement."

Friday, October 24, 2014
October 23, 2014|10:50 am |The Christian Post| 


A North Carolina county judge resigned on Monday because he did not want to violate his Christian faith and perform same-sex marriages, which are now permitted under the state's law.

With the news that North Carolina's same-sex marriage ban was struck down by a federal judge on Oct. 10, Judge Gilbert Breedlove, a 57-year-old magistrate in Swain County and also an ordained minister, could not, in good faith, be forced to conduct same-sex courthouse weddings when his Christian belief tells him that a marriage is only between a man and a woman.

"It was my only option," Breedlove told Citizen-Times. "We were directed we had to perform the marriages, and that was just something I couldn't do because of my religious beliefs."

Although Breedlove has been a magistrate for the past 24 years, he said the law, which judges are responsible for interpreting, no longer stands with his beliefs.

"I was Christian when I started," Breedlove said. "Then, the law didn't require me to perform something that was against my religious belief. Now that law has changed it's requirements."

Although Breedlove could claim he had two jobs as a pastor and a magistrate, the majority of his income came from his judgeship. However, he said he is not worried about his financial future because he put his full faith in the Lord.

"That's one of the things about being a Christian," Breedlove said. "You are able to serve the Lord and the Lord will provide."

The Bryson City community in which Breedlove served, is located next to a Cherokee Indian reservation and his wife was even raised a Cherokee. Breedlove's affinity for Jesus and Native Americans led him to help translate the Bible into the Choctaw Indian language. Having been a part of the Bible translation effort and being a part-time pastor, Breedlove said he is confident in the biblical truth about marriage.

"The whole Bible from front to end states that a marriage is between a man and a wife," he said. "Any other type of sexual activity other than that is what is defined as fornication."

With previous reports indicating that other North Carolina magistrates have also stepped down due to their objection to the state's new law permitting same-sex marriages, Breedlove said he believes more magistrates will continue stepping down as more same-sex couples look to wed by Christian magistrates. The state has issued over 600 same-sex wedding licenses in 60 of the state's counties.

Last Thursday, a Rockingham County magistrate named John Kallam Jr. issued his resignation and claimed that allowing gay marriage "would desecrate a Holy Institution established by God Himself."

"When I took my oath of office, I understood I would be required to perform weddings and have done so throughout my tenure," Kallam wrote in his resignation letter. "I did not however take that oath with any understanding that I would be required to marry same-sex couples."

Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality North Carolina, a statewide LGBT advocacy group, group said that although the group doesn't want judges to feel like they have to resign if they disapprove of the law, he said they at least be willing to uphold the duties required by law.

"This is part of an effort to hype up a few small cases," Sgro said. "If you hold a job or position that serves the public or the state, then you have to carry out the duties of that job. Hundreds and hundreds of people are being married by employees of the state across North Carolina with no problem."

Thursday, October 23, 2014
October 22, 2014|1:57 pm | The Christian Post| 

Idaho couple Donald and Evelyn Knapp, ordained ministers and owners of the Hitching Post Lakeside Chapel of Coeur d'Alene, are facing thousands of dollars in fines and possible jail time for refusing to host gay wedding ceremonies, which the city claims violates its anti-discrimination ordinance. The couple has since filed their business as a religious organization, which means they might be saved by an Idaho law that protects religious freedom.

Jeremy Tedesco, senior legal counsel for the Scottsdale, Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom legal organization, told The Christian Post that while Coeur d'Alene has an ordinance saying that under "public accommodation" businesses cannot discriminate, state law offeres a possible exemption for the Knapps.

"In addition to our federal claims (i.e. First Amendment), our complaint brings a cause of action under the Idaho Free Exercise of Religion Protected Act," Tedesco said. "[Under] Idaho Code § 73–401 et seq., this state law says 'government shall not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion ...'"

Tedesco recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Knapps in district court, as well as a motion to provide immediate relief.

"We are now waiting for the court to decide whether to grant or deny our request for a temporary restraining order," Tedesco said. "By filing a motion for a temporary restraining order, we are asking the court to act as soon as possible and order the city not to enforce its ordinance against the Knapps while our case proceeds."

City officials, who did not provide comment to CP by press time, have argued that the Hitching Post is in violation of ordinance §9.56, which bars facilities of public accommodation from discrimination.

According to the ordinance, this discrimination can include denying "any person because of sexual orientation and/or gender identity/expression, the full enjoyment of any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities or privileges of any place of public resort, accommodation, assemblage, or amusement."

When asked by CP if religious institutions such as churches and church-owned properties are exempt from ordinances like the one in Coeur d'Alene, Tedesco said, "Same-sex marriage advocates have always said that pastors would 'never' be forced to perform same-sex marriages. Well, 'never' came quick as pastors are being threatened with jail and criminal fines for not participating in ceremonies that contradict the definition of marriage."

He continued, "No one is safe — even religious institutions currently exempt under this ordinance and others are on notice. It's foolish to depend on the very same politicians and bureaucrats who have already threatened pastors with six months in jail and $1,000 per day to respect anyone's freedom."

"Under this ordinance, our clients face up to up to 180 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine each day they follow their religious beliefs and ministerial vows and decline to perform a same-sex wedding ceremony."

Speaking about the Knapps decision to file as a religious organization in an effort to gain exemption from performing gay wedding ceremonies at their chapel, Coeur d'Alene Councilman Dan Gookin told Fox News, "I understand that the way the law is currently written right now that the religious freedom has a priority. It trumps that other desire of mine to see more equality in that area."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014
By Leonardo Blair
October 21, 2014|4:20 pm | The Christian Post| 
Although President Barack Obama previously said the definition of marriage should be decided locally, he now believes the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to same same-sex marriage in all states.
He also suggested that the Supreme Court's decision earlier this month to not rule on same-sex marriage is the hallmark of his tenure in an interview recently published in the October 27, 2014 issue of The New Yorker.
In the interview, President Obama picked the silence of the Supreme Court on same-sex marriage when writer Jeffrey Toobin asked him to name the best Supreme Court decision of his career.
"In some ways, the decision that was just handed down to not do anything about what states are doing on same-sex marriage may end up being as consequential — from my perspective, a positive sense — as anything that's been done," said Obama.
"Because I think it really signals that although the Court was not quite ready — it didn't have sufficient votes to follow Loving v. Virginia (1967 decision ruling that states could no longer ban racial intermarriage) and go ahead and indicate an equal-protection right across the board — it was a consequential and powerful signal of the changes that have taken place in society and that the law is having to catch up," he said.
Although his administration hasn't yet made the argument before the Supreme Court, Obama told Toobin that he now believes the Constitution requires that all states allow same-sex marriage.
"Ultimately, I think the Equal Protection Clause does guarantee same-sex marriage in all fifty states," he said. "But, as you know, courts have always been strategic. There have been times where the stars were aligned and the Court, like a thunderbolt, issues a ruling like Brown v. Board of Education, but that's pretty rare. And, given the direction of society, for the Court to have allowed the process to play out the way it has may make the shift less controversial and more lasting."
This is a change in position from when he first announced he supports gay marriage in a May 2012 interview with ABC News. In that interview he said he is no longer opposed to gay marriage but did not believe that the definition of marriage is a federal issue.
"And what you're seeing is, I think, states working through this issue — in fits and starts, all across the country. Different communities are arriving at different conclusions, at different times. And I think that's a healthy process and a healthy debate. And I continue to believe that this is an issue that is gonna be worked out at the local level, because historically, this has not been a federal issue, what's recognized as a marriage," he said.
In the recent interview he added that his administration has worked hard at diversifying the federal bench to include more minorities and gays.
"I think there are some particular groups that historically have been underrepresented — like Latinos and Asian-Americans — that represent a larger and larger portion of the population. And so for them to be able to see folks in robes that look like them is going to be important. When I came into office, I think there was one openly gay judge who had been appointed. We've appointed ten," bragged Obama.
The added diversity he explained "speaks to the larger shifts in our society, where what's always been this great American strength — this stew that we are — is part and parcel of every institution, both in the public sector as well as in the private sector."
Many conservatives decried the Supreme Court's decision to remain silent on the issue this month.
"Unfortunately, by failing to take up these marriage cases, the High Court will allow rogue lower court judges who have ignored history and true legal precedent to silence the elected representatives of the people and the voice of the people themselves by overturning state provisions on marriage," explained Family Research Council President Tony Perkins.
"Even more alarming, lower court judges are undermining our form of government and the rights and freedoms of citizens to govern themselves. This judicially led effort to force same sex 'marriage' on people will have negative consequences for our Republic, not only as it relates to natural marriage but also undermining the rule of and respect for law," he said.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
By Vincent Funaro |October 20, 2014|4:44 pm | The Christian Post| 
The recently launched #HoustonWeHaveAProblem Twitter campaign and petition that supports the Houston pastors who were subpoenaed to turn over their sermons dealing with topics on homosexuality, gender identity and the city's first lesbian mayor, Annise Parker, has reached 10,000 signatures.
The initiative launched by Faith Driven Consumer was initially blocked by the social media platform, but once the block was removed, the campaign was able to flourish tremendously.
 "Thousands of concerned citizens are signing up in support of this important cause — harnessing the power of social media and keeping the pressure on Houston's governmental leaders. Faith Driven Consumers and people of conscience across the nation — including leaders at the local, state and national levels — are joining the call for the mayor and city officials to unequivocally reverse course and end their harassment of five respected area pastors and ultimately Christians throughout Houston," said Chris Stone, founder of Faith Driven Consumer. "We will continue to rally greater levels of grassroots support until tolerance and equality for people of faith are restored in the nation's fourth largest city."
The #HoustonWeHaveAProblem tag directs people to where they can sign a petition that urges the city of Houston to "cease and desist all bullying and other offensive actions against them."
Dave Welch, the executive pastor of the Houston area U.S. Pastor Council was one of the five pastors who was subpoenaed last week.
"This was really initiated by Mayor Annise Parker, who is obviously a noted, kind of poster child for the national gay and lesbian movement, proposing ordinance back in April that was really a massive overreach to begin with to basically add sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to the city's discrimination ordinance and impose those discrimination protections over the private sector in an unprecedented way,"Welch told The Christian Post.
He believes the subpoenas were government retaliation for a lawsuit filed by opponents of this Houston Equal Rights Ordinance that would allow men and women who identify as transgender to use the bathroom of the opposite sex.
A petition was started by those opposed to the ordinance and was able to gain 50,000 signatures. The city attorney claimed half of them were invalid. The opponents of the ordinance then filed a lawsuit against the city.
Since news of the story broke last week, Parker and City Attorney David Feldman have been distancing themselves from the situation. Parker even went as far as calling the subpoena "overly broad" and claims those who were issued are misinterpreting it.
"There's no question the wording was overly broad," Parker said. "But I also think there was some deliberate misinterpretation on the other side."
Feldman agreed on the situation being blown out of proportion.
"It's unfortunate that it has been construed as some effort to infringe upon religious liberty," he told the Houston Chronicle.
Monday, October 20, 2014

By Published October 20,

Two Christian ministers who own an Idaho wedding chapel were told they had to either perform same-sex weddings or face jail time and up to a $1,000 fine, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in federal court.

Alliance Defending Freedom is representing Donald and Evelyn Knapp, ordained ministers who own the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel in Coeur d’Alene.

“Right now they are at risk of being prosecuted,” their ADF attorney, Jeremy Tedesco, told me. “The threat of enforcement is more than just credible.”

According to the lawsuit, the wedding chapel is registered with the state as a “religious corporation” limited to performing “one-man-one-woman marriages as defined by the Holy Bible.”

But the chapel is also registered as a for-profit business – not as a church or place of worship – and city officials said that means the owners must comply with a local nondiscrimination ordinance.

That ordinance, passed last year, prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, and it applies to housing, employment and public accommodation.

City Attorney Warren Wilson told The Spokesman-Review in May that the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel likely would be required to follow the ordinance.

“I would think that the Hitching Post would probably be considered a place of public accommodation that would be subject to the ordinance,” he said.

He also told television station KXLY that any wedding chapel that turns away a gay couple would in theory be violating the law, “and you’re looking at a potential misdemeanor citation.” 

Wilson confirmed to Knapp my worst fear -- that even ordained ministers would be required to perform same-sex weddings.

“Wilson also responded that Mr. Knapp was not exempt from the ordinance because the Hitching Post was a business and not a church,” the lawsuit states.

And if he refused to perform the ceremonies, Wilson reportedly told the minister that he could be fined up to $1,000 and sentenced to up to 180 days in jail.

Now all of that was a moot point because, until last week, gay marriage was not legal in Idaho.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an order on May 13 allowing same-sex marriages to commence in Idaho on Oct. 15. Two days later, the folks at the Hitching Post received a telephone call.

A man had called to inquire about a same-sex wedding ceremony. The Hitching Post declined, putting it in violation of the law.

City officials did not respond to my requests for an interview, nor did they respond to requests from local news outlets.

“The government should not force ordained ministers to act contrary to their faith under threat of jail time and criminal fines,” Tedesco said.

“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.”

Alliance Defending Freedom also filed a temporary restraining order to stop the city from enforcing the ordinance.

“The Knapps are in fear that if they exercise their First Amendment rights they will be cited, prosecuted and sent to jail,” Tedesco told me.

It’s hard to believe this could happen in the United States. But as the lawsuit states, the Knapps are in a “constant state of fear that they may have to go to jail, pay substantial fines, or both, resulting in them losing the business that God has called them to operate and which they have faithfully operated for 25 years.”

The lawsuit came the same week that the city of Houston issued subpoenas demanding that five Christian pastors turn over sermons dealing with homosexuality and gender identity.

What in heaven’s name is happening to our country, folks? I was under the assumption that churches and pastors would not be impacted by same-sex marriage.

“The other side insisted this would never happen – that pastors would not have to perform same-sex marriages,” Tedesco told me. “The reality is – it’s already happening.”

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told me it’s “open season on Americans who refuse to bow to the government’s redefinition of marriage.”

“Americans are witnesses to the reality that redefining marriage is less about the marriage altar and more about fundamentally altering the freedoms of the other 98 percent of Americans,” Perkins said.

Why should evangelical Christian ministers be forced to perform and celebrate any marriage that conflicts with their beliefs?

“This is the brave new world of government-sanctioned same-sex unions – where Americans are forced to celebrate these unions regardless of their religious beliefs,” Perkins told me.

As I write in my new book, “God Less America,” we are living in a day when those who support traditional marriage are coming under fierce attack. 

The incidents in Houston and now in Coeur d’Alene are the just the latest examples of a disturbing trend in the culture war – direct attacks on clergy.

“Government officials are making clear they will use their government power to punish those who oppose the advances of homosexual activists,” Perkins said.

I’m afraid Mr. Perkins is absolutely right.

No one should be discriminated against but have you noticed that any time a city passes a “nondiscrimination” ordinance, it’s the Christians who wind up being discriminated against?

Monday, October 20, 2014

By Valerie Richardson - The Washington Times - Thursday, October 16, 2014

Critics called Thursday on Houston Mayor Annise Parker to withdraw subpoenas for church sermons issued as part of a lawsuit over a transgender rights ordinance, while city officials attempted to downplay the outcry as overblown.

At a press conference at Houston's First Baptist Church, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz joined a group of local pastors in decrying the city's move to subpoena sermons and other communications related to a court battle over the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), also known as the "bathroom bill."

"This week, the government of Houston, Texas, sent a subpoena to silence prayers. The government of Houston, Texas demanded of the pastors, 'Hand over your sermons to the government,'" Mr. Cruz said. "Caesar has no jurisdiction over the pulpit, and when you subpoena one pastor, you subpoena every pastor."

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said in a statement that more than 25,000 people have signed an online petition in the last 24 hours asking Ms. Parker "to immediately retract these demands and issue a clear statement in support of the free speech of all people."

In a Wednesday interview with KHOU-TV in Houston, however, city attorney David Feldman called the outcry over the subpoenas "ridiculous," adding that, "It's unfortunate that it has been construed as some sort of effort to infringe upon religious liberty."

"All this hysteria about how we're trying to infringe all because of the use of the word 'sermons' is really, really ridiculous," Mr. Feldman said.

Ms. Parker told KHOU-TV she hadn't read the subpoenas before they were issued. "One word in a very long legal document which I know nothing about and would never have read and I'm vilified from coast to coast — it's a normal day at the office," she said.

Ms. Parker's office released a statement Wednesday in response to the uproar saying that the mayor "agrees with those who are concerned about the city legal department's subpoenas for pastor's sermons," and that the city will "move to narrow the scope during an upcoming court hearing."

But Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Christiana Holcomb said Thursday city officials have taken "no concrete action to withdraw the subpoenas" and described the city's move as "simply more window-dressing intended to shield them from public scrutiny."

"Furthermore, the subpoenas themselves are the problem — not just their request for pastors' sermons," Ms. Holcomb said in a statement. "The city is not off the hook from its illegitimate request for e-mails, text messages, and other communications in which these pastors, who are not even party to this lawsuit, may have disagreed with the mayor. The way to fix this is to withdraw the subpoenas entirely."

The city issued subpoenas last week to five local pastors opposed to the ordinance, which requires businesses open to the public to permit opposite-sex bathroom use.

A pastor-led coalition had submitted a petition in August to place the ordinance before the voters, but Mr. Feldman ruled the petition inadequate because of irregularities with a number of signatures.

Members of the coalition, which had turned in three times the number of signatures required to put the ordinance on the ballot, filed a lawsuit in August challenging Mr. Feldman's decision. A court date on the petitions is scheduled for Jan. 19.

The subpoenas included requests for sermons, emails, text messages, presentations and other communications related to the ordinance, the petition drive, homosexuality, the mayor, and "gender identity."

The ordinance, passed 11-6 in May by the Houston city council, forbids private businesses open to the public from discriminating based on "gender identity," which is now a "protected characteristic" under Houston law.

Janice Evans, spokeswoman for the mayor, said in an email, "As we noted yesterday, the action will come at an upcoming pretrial court hearing in the case."

But ADF attorney Erik Stanley, who attended the Houston press conference, said the city doesn't need to wait for a court date to address the subpoenas. So far no date has been set in the ADF's lawsuit challenging the subpoenas, saying they are "overly broad, irrelevant, and cause undue burden or harassment."

"There's no court date but they don't need a court date," Mr. Stanley said. "They can take action now to withdraw or narrow the subpoenas, and that's what they ought to do."