One Reddit user claims that conservative fears of same-sex marriage damaging Christian marriages have been realized. He says that his pastor canceled his wedding after North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage was declared unconstitutional earlier this week.
Redditor ‘Bunnytrail’ doesn’t name his church, referring only to ‘Pastor Fred’ and a small town in North Carolina. He says that he received an email on Friday night, in which the pastor explained his position.
“In the light of today’s court actions making gay marriage legal in North Carolina, the institution of Christian marriage has been effectively outlawed. Therefore this church will no longer marry any couples at all except for those scheduled in the next two weeks who cannot make other arrangements. I am sorry we have had to do this but as long as I am pastor here this church will not be forced into gay marriage. Thanks, Pastor Fred.”
Unlike public businesses (like bakeries), churches and religious institutions do retain certain rights to discriminate under U.S. law, and legal experts maintain that a church being forced to perform a same-sex wedding is not a realistic possibility, pointing out that churches (unlike Justices of the Peace) are not currently forced to perform a marriage for a person who has previously been divorced or any other type of marriage that violates their beliefs.
Still, it’s a fear of many conservatives that pastors may be required to carry out a same-sex marriage, and Bunnytrail says he fears that more North Carolina churches will soon take the same position. Further, he says that much of the congregation supports the pastor’s decision, fueling fears that the sentiment is widespread enough that other conservative Christian churches will follow suit.
Pointing to misrepresentations of a 2012 Danish change in the law that allowed same-sex couples to wed in churches, many fear American churches could be forced to allow same-sex marriages. However, there are two flaws. The first is the misinterpretation (no individual priest will be forced to carry out a marriage, according to UPI), and the second is that America is not subject to Danish law.
Of course, some have called out Bunnytrails as a troll, and the user does not identify his church, making it impossible to verify his claims, but his story, nonetheless, illustrates some fears that conservative Christians have about the legalization of same-sex marriage.
The clearest defense against this fear, though, may be simple evidence. Massachusetts, for instance, has had legal same-sex marriage since 2004 and other states have trickled in over the last four years. None yet has had a problem with the widespread denial of either ‘Christian’ marriage or opposite-sex marriage, and no pastor to date has been forced to wed a couple against his beliefs.
In the case of Bunnytrails, whether his story is fiction or fact, the question that must be answered is simply this; was the wedding cancellation caused by the legalization of same-sex marriage or by simply irrational fear and prejudice?
[photo credit: 19melissa68]