Idaho: City Demands Pastor Perform Same-Sex Ceremony or Go to Jail!

Posted on October 21, 2014 in Marriage, Religious Freedom by

Idaho Mr. Mrs. KnappEarlier this month the Supreme Court declined to hear several cases involving the question of same-sex “marriage.” Appeals courts have struck down numerous state constitutional amendments defining marriage as one man and one woman which led to the appeals. With the rejection of the appeals by the Supreme Court many political analysts speculate that a “50 state solution” similar to Roe V. Wade is inevitable.

Many speculate such a solution…but not all.

In an article for The Daily Caller, David Benkof shares his belief that the inaction of the Supreme Court could signal a future victory for traditional marriage supporters. He wrote:

“All of this presupposes a Court that can turn sharply rightward, and I believe it could. Under the scenario I speculated about in the Daily Caller back in January, a Republican Senate elected next month could block any Obama Supreme Court nominee. Then, if there’s a Republican president and Senate in 2016, they could theoretically appoint several new conservative justices. Right now, there are only two young liberals on the court – Sotomayor and Kagan. So a 5-4, 6-3, or even 7-2 traditional-marriage decision by the end of the decade is not out of the question.”

I like the optimism in this scenario – and the likelihood – but will remain cautiously optimistic until such a scenario becomes more probable.

In the meantime the effects of lower court rulings and both the action and inaction of the Supreme Court to date is wreaking havoc in the lives of people across the country.

The most recent example of course is the subpoena of pastor’s sermons in the city of Houston. Now called “The Houston 5,” a group of pastors that openly opposed the city’s transgender bathroom bill have been asked by the city to turn over all sermons, speeches, and communications relating to the bill and Mayor Annise Parker.

That statement should be terrifying to anyone that believes in the First Amendment and both free speech and religious freedom. To think that any government agency would consider – let alone follow through – asking pastors to turn over sermons is egregious at best. Sen. Ted Cruz reminded the city of Houston that “Caesar has no jurisdiction over the pulpit” in his comments at a press conference with pastors and religious freedom advocates:

“Caesar has no jurisdiction over the pulpit. And when you subpoena one pastor, you subpoena every pastor.”

Apparently a city in Idaho is taking this sentiment literally by demanding that a pastor perform same-sex weddings or face fines and jail time. An article at The Daily Caller explains:

“Donald and Evelyn Knapp, ordained ministers who oppose gay marriage, own the Hitching Post wedding chapel in Coeur d’Alene…The city of Coeur d’Alene has an ordinance that prohibits discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation, in public accommodations. It does have a religious exemption, but the Hitching Post is a for-profit company, not technically a religious organization, in spite of the Knapp’s deeply held personal beliefs.”

The Knapp’s now face 180 days in jail and a $1,000 per day fine for each day they refuse to perform a same-sex ceremony. Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Knapp’s to prohibit the city from penalizing the couple.

Here’s where the warnings issued along this path to marriage redefinition become clear as day. The LGBT activists said they just wanted respect, tolerance, maybe recognition of their “civil unions.” Then they wanted equal rights but would ensure religious freedom and convictions would be protected. All those charades are out the window now as they seek not merely tolerance but affirmation and celebration from every person – regardless of religious convictions – for their lifestyle.

No longer do LGBT people and activists want to simply coexist in a tolerant world where we can all agree to disagree. Now they demand that there be no disagreement or objection to their lifestyle; on moral, religious, or any other basis. And, as they have proven recently, they are perfectly willing to play the part of bully or tyrant in order to force everyone to comply with these objectives.

First we saw a photographer sued for refusing to photograph a same-sex ceremony due to religious convictions. And everyone said, “Well, they are a business, they shouldn’t discriminate.”

Next we watched as a baker was sued for refusing to make a cake for a same-sex ceremony due to his religious convictions. We yawned that “He is a business, he should make the cake.”

All the while warnings were issued that it would not stop and that eventually pastors and churches would be forced to allow same-sex weddings in their facilities and be made to perform same-sex ceremonies. No one seemed interested in hearing this warning because we just couldn’t fathom such a thing happening in America.

Well, are you listening now?

It doesn’t matter that the Knapp’s operate a for-profit business. It doesn’t matter that it’s “not technically a religious business.” What matters is that a local government is demanding that a pastor perform a same-sex ceremony or face fines and jail time.

Jeremy Tedesco, senior legal counsel with ADF said, “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.”

Eugene Volokh, notable UCLA professor and Washington Post blogger said he thinks the Knapp’s have an excellent case against the government:

“[C]ompelling them (the Knapps) to speak words in ceremonies that they think are immoral is an unconstitutional speech compulsion. Given that the Free Speech Clause bars the government from requiring public school students to say the pledge of allegiance, or even from requiring drivers to display a slogan on their license plates (Wooley v. Maynard (1977), the government can’t require ministers — or other private citizens — to speak the words in a ceremony, on pain of either having to close their business or face fines and jail time.”

Oh, that pesky First Amendment. If only it didn’t exist. Then the government could make us say anything they want. But the First Amendment does exist (for now) and the government has no right or authority to demand that any person say anything that is against his or her conscience, morals, or religious convictions. For this reason the photographer was wrongly sued considering photos have long been held as speech. And the baker was wrongly sued since cakes are a form of art and art has long been held as a form of speech.

For this reason also it remains to be seen how the government will try and twist the First Amendment to sue and convict a pastor for refusing to violate his religious convictions.

A photographer in New Mexico, baker in Colorado, florist in Washington, farmers in New York, and now a pastor in Idaho. Each have been sued for refusing to violate their religious convictions and affirm, support, or participate in same-sex “marriage.” By adhering to their biblical belief that marriage was created and defined by God they have been sued, convicted, and fined (not all, but some).

Do you still think it impossible that pastors and churches will be made to participate in same-sex “marriage”?

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