In 2012, the people of North Carolina voted to write discrimination directly into their constitution by banning same-sex marriage. Today in federal court, one Christian denomination is suing the state for violating its First Amendment rights to religious liberty as a result of implementing that ban.
Amendment One, which was pushed onto the people of North Carolina in an ugly and lie-filled battle fueled by the National Organization For Marriage, makes it illegal for ministers or pastors or any faith leader to even perform a same-sex commitment ceremony, even though it would have no legal meaning. Rev. Emily C. Heath of the United Church of Christ, the group suing the state, quoting the law writes that “any member of the clergy who officiates at a same-sex marriage in the state may be sentenced to ’120 days in jail and/or probation and community service.’”
In other words, the state of North Carolina is telling clergy that it is illegal to pray in the manner in which they see fit.
For those of us who are people of faith, marriage is more than just a civil ceremony. It is also a religious one. And under the current law, even if a member of the clergy is only intending to perform a religious ritual, and not to legally marry a same-sex couple, they could be arrested.
In other words, North Carolina state law is making it a crime for some Christians to freely exercise their religion.
We often hear that religious liberty is under attack in our country. Often the fact that same-sex couples are allowed to marry is cited as evidence of this attack. But, as this law makes clear, the religious liberty of same-sex couples and their officiating clergy is what is truly being blatantly attacked. This should outrage anyone who claims to believe in religious freedom.
The long list of plaintiffs includes Betty Mack and Carol Taylor, a couple int heir 70s who have been together more than 40 years.
The United Church of Christ has also launched a campaign surrounding their lawsuit, called, I Do Support Religious Freedom.
Here’s Rev. Geoffrey A. Black of the United Church of Christ:
— TrinityUCC (@CommaChurch) April 28, 2014
Image, top, by Lori Cipot via Twitter
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