Sunday, 14 July 2013

Gay marriage or religious freedom, pick one.

The fact that the judicial and executive branches of government combined to thwart the will of people is disturbing, but perhaps even worse than that is how this ruling will impact the free exercise of religion in the years to come.  It lays the groundwork for religious persecution under the guise of defending human or civil rights.

If you read the majority decision, you find there are many places where the motives of those who support DOMA are characterized in a negative way. Speaking for the majority, Justice Kennedy deemed that the Defence of Marriage Act "seeks to injure", represents a "desire to harm" and is "motivated by an improper animus or impose a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages."

In other words, they are declaring that (in the opinion of the court) there are no legitimate grounds for opposition to same sex marriage other than bigotry and hatred.  I find this is a rather amazing conclusion since I don't think there was any testimony or evidence on this topic presented to the US Supreme Court.

The ruling appears to be based on their personal politics, heavily influenced by the popular media culture.  It is clearly not based on fact, evidence and law.  The blindfold is off lady justice, and her thumb is on the scale to tip it to where she wants it to be.

This ruling legitimizes demonizing the majority of the population for their political and religious views as a pretext to denying them the right to enact laws that represent their will.  As Justice Scalia put it in his objection:
In the majority’s judgment, any resistance to its holding is beyond the pale of reasoned disagreement. To question its high-handed invalidation of a presumptively valid statute is to act (the majority is sure) with the purpose to "disparage," "injure," "degrade," "demean," and "humiliate" our fellow human beings, our fellow citizens, who are homosexual. All that, simply for supporting an Act that did no more than codify an aspect of marriage that had been unquestioned in our society for most of its existence—indeed, had been unquestioned in virtually all societies for virtually all of human history. It is one thing for a society to elect change; it is another for a court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it hostes humani generis, enemies of the human race.
 The long term impact of this ruling may prove to be very serious for all Latter-Day Saints and those of other faiths who uphold traditional marriage.  Religious freedom includes the right to live your life in harmony with your faith without penalty or persecution, it includes the right to express that faith in public and in private, to share your faith with others, seek converts, teach it to your children.  For this reason the constitution forbids a religious test for public office, and churches are left largely immune to the coercive taxation powers of the state.

With this ruling however, religions that teach same sex relations are a sin and same sex marriage is an affront to God may soon find themselves looked on by the government and the media as a modern day version of the KKK.

If government views opposing same sex marriage as opposing a human or civil right, then how can the government justify allowing people the freedom to oppose it?  This ruling opens the door to restricting missionary efforts, threatening churches with a loss of their tax-exempt status, revoking charitable status and tax exemptions given to churches, indoctrinating children in the public schools to support gay marriage and reject their parent's faith, even to intruding into the home to 'protect' children from parents who want to raise them in their faith.  It lays the ground work for making a person's faith a factor in getting hired, or being promoted, or even in keeping the job they have.  It provides the tools to exclude Mormons and others from public office either through attacks made in the media, or by requiring acceptance of same sex marriage as a condition.

Sound extreme?  Orson Scott Card was recently tapped to write Adventures of Superman for DC Comics.  The announcement unleashed a storm of protest ONLY because he is known to be an opponent of same sex marriage.  The illustrator quit rather than work with him, and DC Comics has put the story he wrote on hold.  His novel 'Enders Game' has long been something science fiction fans have wanted to see on the silver screen, but now that it is about to happen it too is being met with protests and organised boycotts only because of his views.

In another example: Department of Justice employees have been asked to verbally express support for gay marriage warning that “Silence will be interpreted as disapproval.”

If society will not toleration having somebody opposed to same sex marriage as a comic book writer, do you really think they will tolerate somebody like that as an elected official, school teacher, police officer, or judge?  It may be wise to look at what has happened in Canada.

Canada made same sex marriage legal in 2005 and the effort to make same sex marriage legal was already underway before the 2004 election.  At the start of the election, the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency met with religious leaders opposed to same-sex marriage. These leaders were warned that taking a stand on the issue would be viewed as a partisan act that would endanger their tax-exempt status.

Once it was made legal after the election, Marriage Commissioners ( those who perform civil marriages) were required to perform same sex marriage regardless of their faith or conscience, even when there were many other Marriage Commissioners equally available who were willing to do so.  Province by province, several Marriage Commissioners resigned or took early retirement rather than betray their conscience. 

Chris Kempling, a Canadian high school teacher and guidance counselor was forced out of his career over letters to the editor he wrote on his own time where he expressed his opposition to the homosexual agenda.  There was never any complaint or issue with his work, no student felt they were discriminated against by him, yet he was suspended and later stripped of his credentials while the court told him that restrictions on his freedom of speech and freedom of religion were justified.

When same sex marriage is viewed as being a civil or human right, it runs into direct conflict with freedom of religion.  With religion cast as old, outdated, foolish, bigoted, hypocritical etc. etc. the will of public officials to defend it is weak, as is their understanding of religious freedom in the first place.  They will (for now) draw the line at forcing churches to perform same sex marriages, but that is far too narrow and limited, and in time that too may become too unpopular.

President Martin Van Buren once told Joseph Smith "Your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you" in regards to the persecution faced by the Saints.  We know that the time just before the second coming will also be a time of persecution, and it appears that this issue will be the driving force behind it.

What will you do when the day comes that your employment, promotion, and reputation among your peers depends on accepting same sex marriage?  When you, your spouse, and your children are shunned as pariahs in society, or worse?  I expect the message from the government then will be "Your cause is not just and we won't do anything for you.".

My hope is that the Church will be refined by such persecution to the point where we can truly found the City of Zion as a refuge, but time will show what the Lord has in store, and it will be very good for those who weather the storm.

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