By Jeremiah G. Dys
Wednesday, Kirsten Powers suggested that there is a new era in “Jim Crow” laws, that of businessmen and women of faith objecting to the participation and endorsement of homosexual marriages by the use of their business. Thursday, Jonathan Merritt stoked the fire – and extended the analogy – by invoking Martin Luther King, Jr.’s would-be endorsement of Powers’ logic.
Today, I fully expect someone to write explaining why pastors should be, “servants of all,” extending their “obligation to the public” to marry individuals of the same-sex, no-sex, or multi-sexual partners.
Now, if Powers and Merritt disagree with idea that pastors should be compelled to violate their religious conscience in the same manner that business owners should be compelled to violate the teachings they receive from their pastors, their recent articles do not show it. Why is religious liberty good for the pastor, but not the parishioner? Why could the government be supposedly powerless to force your church to endorse same-sex weddings by the use of their facility, but a faith-owned reception hall cannot? If MLK, Jr. is to be invoked against the business that goes from private to public service, why not a church that moves from home to cathedral?
One student at the Knox Student has already observed the logical disconnect. Getting right to the heart of the matter, he writes, “The real problem here is the underlying logic at play, namely, that the freedom of religion guaranteed by the Constitution includes in it, the right to violate the civil rights of those whose theological views differ from your own.”
Well, if the right to marry whomever, and however many, you wish is found (as many think it should) to be a civil right, what is to stop the enforcement of that civil right against a pastor and his church if that same civil right is enforced against his parishioner and the business he operates?
Seriously, think through it. Powers would suggest that the new Jim Crow era has led to segregated, religiously-owned businesses. Using her logic, if religiously-owned businesses must desegregate on the basis of sexual orientation, why not churches, mosques, and synagogues?
When Merritt invoked MLK, Jr. as applied to religiously-owned businesses, will he do the same to churches? Perhaps house churches could get away with it, but if churches open their doors here, there, and everywhere, by what moral or logical reason are we able to restrain government from the forced sexual orientation “desegregation” of ever country chapel and city cathedral across America? May President Obama call out the troops to escort Jim and Frank to their wedding reception, past the arms akimbo of Rev. George Wallace?
Again, the Knox Student betrays the root issue: “Yet I do not deny that forcing all business to serve gay customers, whether they like it or not, clearly contradicts the principle of religious freedom. It does. This is what political philosophers call the paradox of tolerance. A free society cannot be tolerant of everything, as some beliefs and ideologies are clearly incompatible with a having a free society.”
Such a definition of tolerance reminds me of Chai Feldblum’s lengthy examination of the inevitable conflict between religious liberty and sexual liberty that is more quickly summarized in her answer to the, “when push comes to shove and religious liberty and sexual liberty conflict” question: “I’m having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.”
“Any case,” I would submit, would include the case of your pastor – or Kirsten’s or Jonathan’s – who is approached by a same-sex couple that seeks the use of your church’s facility to celebrate their union. What is more, they demand your pastor perform the ceremony and your deaconesses be enlisted into the service of food in the fellowship hall. What moral or legal argument defends your pastor’s, your church’s right to object and decline such service on the grounds of conscience and the right to be free of forced expression?
So, Ms. Powers, Mr. Merritt: I’m waiting. You have suggested that there is a growing trend of rainbow segregation in this country. You castigate those who are concerned over the erosion of religious liberty with the forced acceptance of sexual license while minimizing the deeply held religious convictions from which those concerns flow. Please give me some hope that you will not catch my pastor and my church in your friendly fire.
Until then, we can assume that those who wish to force the redefinition of marriage and the acceptance of every form of sexual orientation upon all of American society – including the religious “bigots” that stand against them – that they have managed, quite by happenstance, to enlist these two supposed friends to religious liberty in their quest to extend the Homosexual-African American civil rights false analogy.
I can only imagine their smile as they coin a phrase once attributed to Woodrow Wilson, “Never murder a movement that is committing suicide.”
Jeremiah G. Dys, Esq., is Senior Counsel to Liberty Institute, a nationwide religious liberty law firm. As a First Amendment attorney, Dys works with Liberty Institute across the country to restore and defend religious liberty. Dys is regularly featured in local, state, and national print, radio, and television outlets. He lives in a log home on the edge of the country close to Charleston, West Virginia, with his wife and four sons.
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