In the debate over California Proposition 8 and similar anti-gay-marriage measures, one of the more popular tropes is the notion that if gay marriage becomes legal, the state will be able to force churches to conduct gay marriages — in other words, the notion that the legalization of gay marriages will lead to the state regulating how churches administer sacraments.
It's bunk. Some of it is uninformed bunk, and some of it is deliberately false propaganda.
People raising the argument most frequently refer to a New Jersey case of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, affiliated with the Methodist church, which ran afoul of state anti-discrimination laws when it refused to rent a pavilion to a gay couple. Such people rarely reveal that the OGCMA rented out the pavilion to all and sundry for weddings, without any religious restrictions or guidelines, permitting Christian and non-Christian weddings, until a gay couple wanted to use it. In other words, OGCMA offered the pavilion as a public accommodation. Box Turtle Bulletin illustrates in minute detail how proponents (ed: proponents, not opponents!) of Proposition 8 flat-out lied about this case and its significance. Meanwhile, the indispensable Religion Clause blog has links to two decisions by the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights released yesterday further clarifying the point.
Some libertarians believe, on a principled basis, that anti-discrimination laws are an unacceptable violation of individual liberty and property. Others believe that anti-discrimination laws pose problematical threats to individual liberty. These are arguable points. But the scare tactics of gay marriage opponents are not so nuanced. They claim that gay marriage will lead down a slippery slope to the State Anti-Discrimination Department regulating who may or may not receive communion this week. But their arguments, as in the New Jersey instance, are based on misrepresentation of the law. If anything, the law is leaning in quite the other direction — sometimes to a frankly terrifing extent.
The U.S. Supreme Court is being asked to review the case of a former Colleyville woman who says that a forced traumatic exorcism left her so physically bruised and emotionally scarred that she later tried to commit suicide.
A divided Texas Supreme Court ruled in June that the Pleasant Glade Assembly of God staff and members are protected by the First Amendment because the case involves an ecclesiastical dispute over religious conduct.
Laura Schubert Pearson described a wild night in 1996 that involved casting out demons from the church and two attempts to exorcise demons from her. The incident led Pearson, then 17, to eventually attempt suicide, she said.
Edit: More excellent analysis from Not a Potted Plant here.
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