Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Coeur d’Alene city officials to pastors: perform gay marriages or face jail, fines

From the Alliance Defending Freedom web site.

Excerpt:

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a federal lawsuit and a motion for a temporary restraining order Friday to stop officials in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, from forcing two ordained Christian ministers to perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples.

City officials told Donald Knapp that he and his wife Evelyn, both ordained ministers who run Hitching Post Wedding Chapel, are required to perform such ceremonies or face months in jail and/or thousands of dollars in fines. The city claims its “non-discrimination” ordinance requires the Knapps to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies now that the courts have overridden Idaho’s voter-approved constitutional amendment that affirmed marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

“The government should not force ordained ministers to act contrary to their faith under threat of jail time and criminal fines,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “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. The city is on seriously flawed legal ground, and our lawsuit intends to ensure that this couple’s freedom to adhere to their own faith as pastors is protected just as the First Amendment intended.”

The Hitching Post Wedding Chapel is across the street from the Kootenai County Clerk’s office, which issues marriage licenses. The Knapps, both in their 60s and who themselves have been married for 47 years, began operating the wedding chapel in 1989 as a ministry. They perform religious wedding ceremonies, which include references to God, the invocation of God’s blessing on the union, brief remarks drawn from the Bible designed to encourage the couple and help them to have a successful marriage, and more. They also provide each couple they marry with a CD that includes two sermons about marriage, and they recommend numerous Christian books on the subject. The Knapps charge a small fee for their services.

Coeur d’Alene officials told the Knapps privately and also publicly stated that the couple would violate the city’s public accommodations statute once same-sex marriage became legal in Idaho if they declined to perform a same-sex ceremony at their chapel. On Friday, the Knapps respectfully declined such a ceremony and now face up to 180 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines for each day they decline to perform that ceremony.

This is freaking IDAHO for God’s sake. Thankfully the ADF is there to fight the case.

I guess part of me is surprised that in a country where so many people identify as Christians and attend church that such a thing would be possible.

First off, I credit Bible-centric pastors for failing to explain the issues of homosexuality and gay marriage in a way that their parishioners could make sense of it logically and evidentially. We never did that, so that’s why Christians had nothing to say to non-Christians when the issue came up OUTSIDE the church. We never learned from church leaders or our parents how to explain the problems with gay rights (Grindr app promiscuity, domestic violence, relationship instability, HIV spread, loss of free speech, loss of religious liberty, harm to children who are separated from their biological parents, etc.). All we learned to say at home and at church was “the Bible says”. That’s what 20 years of church prepares you to do. That’s what being raised in a Christian home prepares you to do.

“The Bible says” works great when you are a child in the Christian subculture, then you hit the university and it just dies. And pastors and parents know this, they just don’t care, because Christianity was like Santa Claus to them – it was about getting you to behave nicely as a child. It was never to make you kick ass like a William Lane Craig. It was never to make you into Stephen C. Meyer or an ADF attorney. It was just to make your parents’ life easier, as much as they try to cover it up with pious talk excusing them from their failed parenting effort.

Secondly, I think that the type of Christianity taught by parents and pastors is also to blame. They keep telling us that Christianity is about God helping you to feel good, and be nice to other people, so they like you. Everything is about feeling good here and now. Feelings. Compassion. Non-judgmentalism. Irrationality. Nothing is about truth, nothing is about facts, nothing is about conflict. We have witnessed the feminization of the church, and as a result, nobody has any response to the rhetoric of the gay rights people. If Christianity is about being nice, being liked and feeling good, then we have no resistance to the gay rights movement’s rhetoric which urges us to “be nice” so we can be liked, and feel good.

Declaring that morally wrong practices are actually morally good is only a virtue to those who want to be liked above all.

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City of Houston demands that pastors hand over all sermons on homosexuality

Houston's openly gay mayor, Annise Parker

Houston’s openly gay mayor, Annise Parker

Fox News has the story and the backstory, too.

Excerpt:

The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly lesbian mayor. And those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court.

“The city’s subpoena of sermons and other pastoral communications is both needless and unprecedented,” Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Christina Holcomb said in a statement. “The city council and its attorneys are engaging in an inquisition designed to stifle any critique of its actions.”

ADF, a nationally-known law firm specializing in religious liberty cases, is representing five Houston pastors. They filed a motion in Harris County court to stop the subpoenas arguing they are “overbroad, unduly burdensome, harassing, and vexatious.”

“Political and social commentary is not a crime,” Holcomb said. “It is protected by the First Amendment.”

The subpoenas are just the latest twist in an ongoing saga over the Houston’s new non-discrimination ordinance. The law, among other things, would allow men to use the ladies room and vice versa.  The city council approved the law in June.

The Houston Chronicle reported opponents of the ordinance launched a petition drive that generated more than 50,000 signatures – far more than the 17,269 needed to put a referendum on the ballot.

However, the city threw out the petition in August over alleged irregularities.

After opponents of the bathroom bill filed a lawsuit the city’s attorneys responded by issuing the subpoenas against the pastors.

The pastors were not part of the lawsuit. However, they were part of a coalition of some 400 Houston-area churches that opposed the ordinance. The churches represent a number of faith groups – from Southern Baptist to non-denominational.

“City council members are supposed to be public servants, not ‘Big Brother’ overlords who will tolerate no dissent or challenge,” said ADF attorney Erik Stanley.  “This is designed to intimidate pastors.”

Mayor Parker will not explain why she wants to inspect the sermons.

Why is it that people on the secular left are so comfortable with bringing in the government to threaten, intimidate and coerce those who disagree with them? Could it be that they know that what they are doing is morally wrong, and have to force others to celebrate it so their guilty consciences will be appeased? After all, you don’t see chaste people marching around in pride parades, or demanding government force people to celebrate chastity. We know we are right, and opposition to chastity doesn’t bother us. Our consciences are clean.

Well, the ADF is on this Houston case, and that’s a good thing. Seems like anywhere Christians are under attack, the ADF is there to defend us. If you want to keep up with this story, I recommend subscribing to the Alliance Defending Freedom podcast and the Family Research Council Daily and Weekly podcasts.

 

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T-shirt company forced to print gay pride t-shirts and attend diversity training

From Kentucky.com.

Excerpt:

Hands On Originals discriminated against the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization of Lexington when it refused to print the group’s Lexington Pride Festival T-shirts in 2012, according to a hearing officer in the case.

Greg Munson issued his decision Monday. The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission released it Tuesday morning.

“The evidence of record shows that the respondent discriminated against GLSO because of its members’ actual or imputed sexual orientation by refusing to print and sell to them the official shirts for the 2012 Lexington Pride Festival.”

Munson wrote that the application of the Fairness Ordinance did not violate the T-shirt vendor’s right to free speech and the free exercise of religion. The Human Rights Commission found in 2012 that Hands On Originals violated the city’s fairness ordinance, which prohibits businesses open to the public from discriminating against people based on sexual orientation.

Alliance Defending Freedom defended the business, and here was their line of argument:

“No one should be forced by the government — or by another citizen — to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jim Campbell, who argued before the hearing examiner on behalf of Hands On Originals on June 19.

“Blaine (Adamson, of Hands On Originals) declined the request to print the shirts not because of any characteristic of the people who asked for them, but because of the message that the shirts would communicate.”

In the statement, Hands On Originals’ co-counsel Bryan Beauman, with the Lexington firm of Sturgill, Turner, Barker and Moloney, said, “No one wants to live in that kind of America — a place where people who identify as homosexual are forced to promote the Westboro Baptists and where printers with sincere religious convictions are forced to promote the message of the GLSO. … In America, we don’t force people to express messages that are contrary to their convictions.”

In cases like this, the Human Rights Commissions will try to drag the trial out for as long as possible, in order to send an intimidating messages to minorities they want to discriminate against and coerce. This case went on for two years, and probably cost a lot of money to defend. In Canada, Ezra Levant’s case went 2 years and also cost $100,000. The goal here is to use the legal system as a form of terrorist action, to intimidate anyone who disagrees with the secular left. And it works.

If you are looking for something to do with your life, becoming an ADF attorney or supporter is probably a very good option.

Do you think that intimidation like this is uncommon? Well, I’ve blogged about things like before – e.g. – getting Frank Turek fired, forcing out Brendan Eich at Mozilla, expelling students from university, discriminating against foster parents,violence at student demonstrations, coercing Christian businesses, leaking the names of pro-marriage donors,closing down adoption agenciesthreatening teachers with termination, terminating police chaplainsvandalizing businessesvandalizing churches, or actually being convicted of committing domestic terrorism by attacking the Family Research Council building with guns. So sometimes it’s coercion, and sometimes it’s vandalism and sometimes it’s domestic terrorism. It depends on how extreme the gay activist is in his views.

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How would gay marriage affect your marriage?

The Daily  Signal explains what it costs for those who refuse to celebrate same-sex marriage.

Excerpt:

A bakery owner in Oregon broke down in tears while discussing the fallout of her and her husband’s decision not to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple on the basis of their Christian beliefs.

Earlier this year, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries found “substantial evidence” that Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, discriminated against the lesbian couple.

They now face a fine in excess of $150,000.

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Signal on Friday at the 2014 Values Voter Summit, Aaron said the fee would “definitely” be enough to bankrupt the couple and their five children.

[...]In January 2014, the Kleins were charged with violating Oregon’s Equality Act of 2007, a law that protects the rights of the LGBT community.

[...]Melissa and Aaron Klein are in the process of appealing the decision handed down by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. Following threats, vicious protests and boycotts, they have also been forced to close their bakery.

Melissa told The Daily Signal the charges have “definitely impacted us pretty hard financially.”

“This was not the first time we’ve served these girls,” said Aaron, maintaining their refusal was not about the couple’s sexual orientation, but rather, about their religious convictions.

Sometimes, when a person is doing something they know is wrong, they will try to drown out their conscience by getting everyone around them to tell them that what they are doing is actually right. But what happens when the people around them don’t perform? Well, if you’re on the secular left, that’s where the fascism comes in. On a secular worldview, you can’t ground human rights. They don’t exist. So when a secular leftists is confronted with a lack of approval for his sinfulness, he turns to government to punish anyone who disagrees with them. Even if it means violating their fundamental human rights. The gay couple in question could have gone somewhere else, but instead they chose to punish people who disagreed with them in order to push their agenda by coercion.

I think a lot of atheists like to console themselves that even if God exists, that they will be OK because they never did anything really bad. You know, like rape or murder. And those things are indeed terrible, and definitely worthy of capital punishment now, and an eternity of separation from God later. But I think there is something even worse than those things. Jesus says that the most important commandment is for a person to love God with everything he has. I think that when a secular leftist uses the power of government to force Christians to break their allegiance to Christ, that they are doing something worse than rape or murder, (in terms of final judgment – not criminal law). And this is in addition to the widespread support for abortion (which is murder of an innocent child) that is widely supported in the atheist community.

You definitely do not want to be found to be one of those people who made Christians feel ashamed of taking the teachings of Jesus on sexuality seriously on that day. I really think it would be nice if atheists stopped kidding themselves about being good people. You’re not good people. We might treat you nicely, because you were made to know God and so have the same value as anyone else, but that doesn’t mean you are a good person. In fact, atheists cannot even ground objective morality rationally in their accidental universe. I guess we should not be surprised, then, when we see them using government to force their nihilism on people of faith.

Here is atheist morality:

The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.

(“God’s Utility Function,” Scientific American, November, 1995, p. 85)

That’s why they can do these things. Because for them, rape, murder, anything – are all neither praiseworthy nor prohibited. There is no moral oughtness on atheism. And if they have enough power, then it just leads them to behave like the atheist Josef Stalin did in his ruthless suppression of free religious expression. Killing millions of people is no problem for atheists. There is no evil and no good, as Dawkins says. I think what this intolerance towards Christians for their faith is a slippery slope that leads to the kind of religious persecution that we have seen against people of faith in atheist regimes of the past. This is not speculative. Atheists have been willing to kill in order to protect their worldview from challengers. I think fining Christians $150,000 in order to bankrupt them is a step on that path. They lack the power today, but not the will. History teaches us that there is a deep hatred for Christianity inside atheism, and there are no limits to how far they will go to act on that.

You can read more about atheist morality in this post where I talk about Richard Dawkins’ support for extramarital affairs and infanticide. Like I said, if you’re an atheist, there is no evil and no good. It’s so strange to me when they try to make moral judgments. Like a monkey trying to write a novel. They act so outraged but really they have no standing to declare anything right or wrong. It’s not grounded in their worldview, and it’s important to understand what we are dealing with when we meet people who cannot distinguish right from wrong, and have no problem with coercing others against their consciences. It’s easy to see where Stalin and Mao came from, isn’t it?

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Christian college’s accreditation threatened over adherence to Christian moral values

If you are a Christian, then you take Bible as an authority in sexual matters. That means no sex before marriage. And no sex outside marriage. Period.

Check out this article from Boston Business Journal.

Excerpt:

The regional body that accredits colleges and universities has given Gordon College a year to report back about a campus policy on homosexuality, one that may be in violation of accreditation standards.

The higher education commission of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges met last week and “considered whether Gordon College’s traditional inclusion of ‘homosexual practice’ as a forbidden activity” runs afoul of the commission’s standards for accreditation, according to a joint statement from NEASC and Gordon College.

The commission asked Gordon College to submit a report next September. The report should describe the process by which the college has approached its review of the policy “to ensure that the College’s policies and procedures are non-discriminatory,” the statement said.

So it doesn’t matter to the commission what they teach in the classroom, it just matters that they toe the line on secular sexual ethics. Accreditation doesn’t mean having academic standards, it means that your moral beliefs have to match those of the commission.

If you want to contact the four women (1 president, 3 vice presidents) who lead the commission, their contact information is here. I’m sure that these four women believe that they are acting out of compassion and tolerance in order to promote diversity, but from my perspective, I just see it is as another case of secularists trying to force their moral views on Christians by threats and coercion.

Previously, Gordon College was in the news for asking for an exemption from Obamacare, which forces Christians to subsidize the cost of drugs that cause abortions.

From Campus Reform.

Excerpt:

The town of Salem, Mass., has pitted itself against Gordon College after the president of the private Christian school added his name to a public letter to President Obama asking for a religious exemption from a planned federal mandate.

The expected executive order would force any organization receiving federal funds, including religiously based organizations, to hire people whose sexual conduct may not fall in line with their beliefs. Gordon says the mandate would be an “infringement on religious liberty” and “the rights of faith-based institutions to establish a set of standards and expectations for their community.”

Gordon’s statement of faith and conduct defines marriage as the “lifelong one-flesh union of one man and one woman.” It also clarifies that the school is against “homosexual acts,” not “same-sex orientation,” and claims that it expects its students and faculty to “refrain from any sexual intercourse—heterosexual or homosexual; premarital or extramarital—outside of the marriage covenant.”

“Signing the letter was in keeping with our decades-old conviction that, as an explicitly Christian institution, Gordon should set the conduct expectations for members of our community,” Gordon College President Michael Lindsay said in a statement. “Nothing has changed in our position.”

[...]It was Lindsay’s signature that prompted Salem Mayor Kimberly Driscoll to publicly chastise the school, calling the small Christian college’s longstanding policies of expressly forbidding homosexual practices “offensive” in a statement released by the city. Driscoll went on to say that the city was revoking its contract with the college over the management of the city’s Old Town Hall facility.

“While I respect your rights to embed religious values on a private college campus, religious freedom does not afford you the right to impose those beliefs upon others and cannot be extended into a publicly owned facility or any management contract or a publicly owned facility, like Old Town Hall,” she said.

This Obamacare mandate is one of the cases that shows why I always urge Christians to vote for smaller and smaller government. The more money stays in our hands, the more freedom we have to run our own lives. The more money we transfer to people in secular governments, the more power they have to intrude into our lives and force their beliefs on us. Part and parcel of the rejection of God as an authority figure is the desire to get the approval of everyone else around you for acting immorally and selfishly. When people reject God, they feel guilty, and it causes them to want to surround themselves with people who tell them that they are actually doing the right thing by doing the wrong thing. But no amount of celebration of their selfishness is enough, and that’s why the secular left is so much in favor of taxpayer-funded abortion, restricting disagreement with homosexuality and so on.

One way to stop their desire to get us to celebrate and affirm their immorality is to cut off the flow of money from families and job creators to the secular government. They should be getting no more of what we make than they need to perform their jobs – e.g., building roads, maintaining armed forces, etc. The more we can privatize things like education, health care, etc., the more free we will be. That could go as far as privatizing or even abolishing entire government departments.

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