Liberal Churches Go To Court for THEIR Religious Liberty.

Finally, we are seeing the liberal branches of Christianity exert their muscle in the same way conservative branches do. They are going to court, using their religious convictions to challenge those of conservatives and protect their own religious liberty.

One of the tenets of the United Church of Christ is that their marriage ceremony is available to all including gay couples.  A state law in North Carolina prohibits UCC pastors from performing a service that is a part of their faith, thus violating UCC’s religious liberty.

I often post criticisms here about various branches of the faith.  Other branches comment that they themselves are not guilty of the dogma I criticize and I should make sure that is known.

It is difficult to do this for all the various branches.  I often say the branches of the faith should speak up, putting distance between themselves and those they disagree with.  I congratulate the UCC for doing just that.

From personal experience, I know that going to court is a difficult route.  There is no guarantee the UCC will get into court or that it will win once there.  The expense is no small matter either.

But, taking this step serves another good purpose.  It bring light to an issue, pointing out that there is more than one view about religion and homosexuality.  Also, it shows the public that not all of the Christian faith is as backwards as Westboro Baptist, Southern Baptist and Roman Catholic churches.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/29/us/churchs-lawsuit-challenges-north-carolina-ban-on-same-sex-marriage.html?_r=0

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-dr-susan-brooks-thistlethwaite/north-carolina-ucc-lawsuit_b_5232355.html?utm_hp_ref=religion

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About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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56 Responses to Liberal Churches Go To Court for THEIR Religious Liberty.

  1. entech says:

    But they don’t count! In the eyes of “Real Christians” like Henry and Father J, they can’t be “Real Christians”, they don’t hate the “abomination in the eyes of Lord”.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      entech 2:28 Yes. To the true believer, the passages in the Bible which refer to heterosexuals performing ritualized same sex acts means their god hates gay marriage. They don’t seem related to me, but I’m an outsider.

      • entech says:

        Keep the faith Jon, just keep believing with religious zeal that we are all equal in the sight of God ;) . Much stated but never explicitly stated from what I can see, all this love and equality dispensed all seems to come with conditions. Thou shalt love and fear me (fear? does that mean quaking in your boots in anticipation of eternal punishment, or simply and archaic way of saying show respect) and at the same thou shalt not …
        The deeper you look the more convincing is the argument that it was all written by men for the benefit of those that wrote it, the shaman and other self appointed representatives of the god of their imagination.

        I tried to get belief, faith and religion into the first sentence because they are so often stated as being a part of being an atheist, the good father has used most of it in the last few days. it seems to go like this:
        I have a religion. You reject my religion therefore you must have a religion of your own to replace it. Why?
        I have a belief in God. You reject my God therefore you must have a belief to replace it. Your lack of belief is really a belief in itself. Why?
        I have faith that my God exists. You reject my faith. This requires more faith than it does to have faith. Why?

        Just now we get the quote from Chesterton, not one of your highly trained philosophers and theologians but a fiction writer who happens to believe that other fiction and even converted to the Church of Rome, Fr, James said, ” Just goes to show you that when you reject belief in God you don’t believe in nothing. You will believe anything”. You would expect one with such a multitude of degrees and a highly trained man to know the importance of attribution. The converse is actually the case. If you can convince yourself of an invisible and undetectable creator or are well on your way to believing anything.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          I don’t see how believers can overlook the obvious, that the Bible’s theology was written to control certain people and benefit those who concocted the rules.

          It delicious to contemplate a victory by the UCC. Even our infamous Judge Scalia apparently has never considered that non-Catholics, lite believers and nonbelievers might have their “religious liberties” infringed upon by the narcissistic religious leaders.

          • Wolfy32 says:

            Religion accomplished only what wa few politicians have been able to accomplish.. Maybe our founding fathers were as accomplished.. But that’s another discussion.

            As to religion well, I suspect it started out as just wanting to have something, anything to believe in. To refuse to accept that Christ was dead. The grieving process if you will.

            From there, the desciples realized, OMg, people are going for this stuff. And at that point, the lie got bigger than them. And they had no choice but to go with it….

            See what happens when you tell a little white lie…. The greatest con on the planet!

  2. entech says:

    It so often turns out that the more extreme “narcissistic religious leaders” (pretty accurate description) are the ones that squeal loudest about religious liberty. Preventing them from imposing their will on others is considered an infringement of their religious liberty, the liberty to infringe on the rights of every one else.

    They have the strange idea that liberty is a limited commodity, my right to not believe has no effect on their liberty to believe it only infringes on their insistence that I believe as they do, and that is not a right that they have. It is though a right they are increasingly demanding for themselves and that is why sites such as you are so important. They ask why we fight against them like this, the answer is self defense.

  3. Adam Heckathorn says:

    “If you can convince yourself of an invisible and undetectable creator or are well on your way to believing anything.” I commented recently on how the opinions of Those I had worshiped with on subjects having nothing to do with religion tended to undermine My faith. When You find People coming to unreasonable conclusions on any and all subjects It’s easy to say “These People are completely unreasonable on things that appear pretty straight forward maybe I should take Their religious thoughts with a grain of salt. Perhaps if the only thing We have in common is beliefs about the Supreme Deity it’s time to revisit My own thoughts on The Deity.”

    • Henry says:

      Adam:“When You find People coming to unreasonable conclusions on any and all subjects It’s easy to say “These People are completely unreasonable on things that appear pretty straight forward maybe I should take Their religious thoughts with a grain of salt. Perhaps if the only thing We have in common is beliefs about the Supreme Deity it’s time to revisit My own thoughts on The Deity.””

      If so, that should chase you away from atheism. Just the other day, we had an atheist coming to very unreasonable conclusions on his conspiracy theories. He did back off from them a bit. However, under your rules of unreasonableness, it should chase you away from atheism.

      • Adam Heckathorn says:

        That’s the problem with Atheism. One prominent Atheist said something to the effect that getting coordinated action out of Atheists is like herding Cats. As Individuals We may have little in common beyond disbelief. As a group The majority seem to have a High regard for Reasoned Thought and I like to think place a high Value on Human Rights.

      • Adam Heckathorn says:

        What is it with Human beings and Conspiracy Theories. Here’s One I’m guilty of I followed This stuff on NPR http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerry_Committee_report

      • entech says:

        Same line of reasoning could say don’t let you children sing in the church choir.

      • entech says:

        I have been trying to take what you said seriously, the first question is which atheist were you talking about?

      • Wolfy32 says:

        Thanks Henry… I was not implying the entire world is full of conspiracies. However, if we don’t ask for evidence and ask questions of the world around us, even if we can’t know the answers, how are we different from dogs or cats? Just lemmings accepting whatever happens around us and whatever anyone tells us as status quo.

        I’m not afraid to challenge what people think. Asking why is crucial to not falling for some gimmick.

    • Adam Heckathorn says:

      Every time I think about Iran Contra I think of Nancy Reagan. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_Say_No

  4. Adam Heckathorn says:

    I’ve heard some crazy theories about Electricity. One of The craziest was “It can’t get You if You don’t let it know Your afraid of it”. I’m pretty sure it still can despite Ones personal courage. Can You imagine If Ideas such as this and every other hillbilly idea about Electricity was published and handed down according to Ethnicity and Tribe and despite large scale death and Mayhem When bad Things happened to other ethnicities Everyone just figured the ones suffering did not have The truth about Electricity or that Just proves We’re the only ones that have the truth about Electricity and the ones among Us that have been injured just didn’t have enough faith in Our view. This little story may seem silly but Isn’t this pretty much religious belief in a nutshell except none of Us can see the Outcome because it’s happening in Heaven, Hell, purgatory, or sometime maybe thousands of Years from now. The circular logic to all faith makes Me dizzy.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Adam 2:42 re: spiritual electricity

      Can’t you imagine ancient peoples looking at the sun, lightning, wind and all things in exactly that way. Today, it’s electricity, demons, gods and whatever else comes along.

      • Adam Heckathorn says:

        I read about Martin Luther making promises to God because of a frightening wind storm. Life must have been scarier back then. For the superstitious It still is.

        • entech says:

          On the other side you could say that a church putting a lightning rod on its spire is showing a lack of faith :)

  5. Michael Ross says:

    “One of the tenets of the United Church of Christ is that their marriage ceremony is available to all including gay couples”

    “United Church of Christ”

    “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7)

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Michael 12:28 You are saying “United Church of Christ” is cursing?

      • entech says:

        Jon, I am getting good at finding appropriate verses for all the quoters out there Michael especially loves them – Matthew 7:1-3.

        Of course, coming from the pen of a none believer renders them meaningless, even more than when dripping from the pen of the true believer.

    • entech says:

      So many different little groups, some not so little, and they all have their own little credos and variations on a theme. Now I do not actually believe any of this that they write here but i cannot see where they are guilty as you charge.
      http://www.ucc.org/about-us/what-we-believe.html

      1 Corinthians 13 and so many of you so-called Christians are so very charitable.

  6. Fr. James says:

    The UCC can do any kind of ceremony it wants. The State cannot do anything about that, yet. So their rights are not being harmed in any way. The only issue is that NC will not issue a marriage certificate or recognize any such union. Even ND law states that you can’t perform an illegal marriage.

    Let’s say the UCC wins. The State can then turn around and argue that it can force churches to perform ceremonies that the State wants. We all know that is what many liberals want. Of course Catholics would refuse, which would lead to “legal” persecution. We all know that is what many liberals want too.

    Once again Jon reveals himself. He equates any church that he disagrees with as a Westboro type group. Even though Westboro hates Catholics as much as Jon does. He of course says this for my benefit as a way to insult me. He did not say things like this as mayor even though he believed them. He lied to the people of Fargo about his real beliefs and agenda. Jon is just a hateful bigot…just like the Westboro folks.

    • Wolfy32 says:

      Who cares about a politicians beliefs in government? They could believe in the great banana for all I care as long as they aren’t doing anything illegal and/or trying to convert anyone.

      So, it’s not o.k. to disagree with the church? Any disagreement with The Church is a form of persectution? So I’m persecuting you now by disagreeing with you on persecution?

      • entech says:

        Sounds right to me Wolfy. But I would imagine our super highly trained intellectual mentor will have a different view and tell you where you are going wrong by even thinking about not agreeing with him.

      • Fr. James says:

        It is the Church that is being persecuted for disagreeing. You don’t like Obama and you are a pro-life Catholic group? Suddenly the IRS takes a huge interest in you.

  7. Matt Noah says:

    US Supreme Court Backs Prayer Before Government Meetings. The 5-4 ruling was handed down today, May 5. “In Monday’s closely divided decision, the court said a prayer could violate the Constitution if there was an attempt to intimidate, coerce or convert nonbelievers.” as reported by Reuters. No doubt some atheist will try to convince some federal judge he was intimidated, coerced or somehow undergoing a conversion.

    Question of the day. If not America, where would an atheist feel more ‘at home’? What country is, ahem, heaven for atheists?

  8. Matt Noah says:

    The Senior Bush was reported to have said. Snopes has this and there is no substantiation for it; just innuendo from atheist websites – http://msgboard.snopes.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=101;t=000185;p=0

    Not even CNBC, MSNBC or the Huffington Post seem to have this bit of rumor about the former President.

    Americans Unite With ‘One Voice’ on ‘Day of Prayer’ While Secularists and Atheists Continue Push for ‘Reason’ is the correct headline. The article reflects the headline. Some Americans did unite in prayer. Some atheists and secularists pushed for a national day of Reason. Nothing in the article stated that the latter were not Americans.

    The only countries killing atheists are the same ones killing people who are not Muslims. They don’t care that you are an atheist. They simply know you aren’t a Muslim.

    Atheists are probably the least persecuted class of people in the world.

    • Wolfy32 says:

      Quite possibly, the question is why? A catholic and Lutheran will go at it until both are dead or agree to never talk again, a catholic and an athiest simply realize it’s futile to fight. Neither giving in, but, neither seeking to kill the other… Some form of unspoken respect that inter-religious wars do not have for each other.

      I’m curious why there’s more infighting amongst believers than there is amongst believers vs. nonbelievers?

      • entech says:

        Interesting, I think that believers need nonbelievers, at the end of the day it is all many of them have in common, the only thing that keeps them together is the thought that some people reject them all equally.
        They should be grateful to all the atheists out there for giving them common cause, otherwise they might actually finish up killing each other.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          That can be turned around in the other direction just as easily.
          As far as the “infighting”, I look at it more as housekeeping. Wolfy’s 12:34 refers to the ongoing housekeeping, and “the priest james” gives evidence. Even Jon has asked why there isn’t more people taking charge of the (let’s call them “excesses” for simplicity’s sake).

          • entech says:

            Housekeeping ?
            How about domestic violence.
            How about the period 1560-1715.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Re. 40 yr. war; Big houses can take a lot of time and cleaning. The priest James and some associates haven’t come clean yet. The most current wave is in the UN now. You seem to say you had preferred the reformation had not taken place which precipitated the ensuing intrigues. (religious, and political, more political than religious.) I rather doubt you would be comfortable with the status quo prior.

            Re. domestic violence; No idea what you’re trying to connect.

          • entech says:

            You said housekeeping, houses are domestic, in the process of cleaning up the differences some violence has occurred. Still does to a minor extent, Ireland is not clear of secular violence, Scotland still fights battles over two football teams, Celtic and Rangers, in both places it is a way of asking what ones religion is without being to overt – which team do you support? Interesting that Celtic have had some Protestant players, Rangers have never had a Catholic.

            Speaking of Ireland much of the animosity was provoked and exacerbated by “Dr.” the Reverend Ian Paisley, his doctorate is much discussed and disputed, certainly not from somewhere as highly regarded as, say, Bart Ehrman. I would imagine probably the same as Fr. J – this is only speculation based on his writing, not the work of a scholar or expert.
            Many years ago as a young engineer, almost finished training and with one more exam to go a couple of us sent to one of these mail order degree factories, I was told that on current qualifications I was entitled to a master of science degree, further if I wrote a CV covering my work experience and social activities I would be entitled to a Ph.D. based on work done and life experience (at an extra cost, of course, and it may have involved a short correspondence course).

            About the reformation taking place I would have preferred that the need for it had never arisen. That is that Constantine had not given the early movement his support and that it had faded away as just another Jewish sect with no basis for its strange ideas. (just a personal view).

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            A lot of words, little new information, and we haven’t even gotten to the Counter Reformation, and the codification, (dogma) of earlier thought from the earlier Dark Ages, brought forward. The inspiration of the priest james.

          • entech says:

            The main point was in the last paragraph. if this situation had pertained there would never have been any of the other.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            “Ifs and buts”. Knowing human nature as it has shown itself to be, something else would have taken it’s place with just as much controversy. We could look at colonialism as a candidate. Money seems to inspire. In England, during and after Hank 8, I think it would be fair to say that all the back and forth was almost all politics and power with a very thin veil of God on either side. A question I’ve had for a long time, you may know the answer; Did the peasants out in the boonies really care much? They couldn’t do much about it anyway.? And went along with the dominant one at the moment?

          • entech says:

            The peasants were just as gullible then as they are now, they believed what they were told and fought for it. Bit like America today.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            “Bit like America today”,And the rest of the world. God or no God. “Great Leader” in Korea, to the Middle East, to Moscow, to Africa, to, to, to.

          • entech says:

            @2:10 Gotta agree to that. Priests and politicians have us all conned. When they get together and support each other, as is almost always the case, the peasants, the people, the masses, the great unwashed whatever you want to call them get stomped on. Gullibility is a universal. Incidentally in Korea I think it is “dear leader”, not that it matters because it just demonstrates that even escaping from the religious reasons for dominance they just invent something to take its place, and something equally nebulous, the state, the workers, the race. There always seems to be some part of humanity that wants to dominate the rest, always variations on the reasoning – it is what God wants you to do; it is for the good of the state and the people are the state; we the Aryans/Mongols/whatever are destined to rule the world, we are superior – someone steps up to gull the gullible.

            @1:50 Human nature etc as you call it would indicate you agree with the above.
            Pity you had to have sly dig at my background, Hank the 8 and colonialism, sparking my childlike retaliation about Americans being gullible. Although justified by the constant claims to being a Christian nation and having the highest Christian population.

            Colonialism, though, is a good call, even if your aim was a bit narrowly focused. You say colonialism would be a possible replacement, a candidate. When you look at it you will see that Christianity was, in fact, a replacement for colonialism. What would you call the Roman Empire if not a colonial power, Palestine was a colony a province ruled from Rome. When the magesterium changed from Caesar to Pope the colonies simply changed leadership.

            For the hundred or so years from Henry 8 till Cromwell put an end to royalty the monarch had tremendous power the fighting was not mostly about power, they already had that, the fighting really was about religion. England even had its own inquisitions, Mary wanted a Catholic England others wanted a Church of England England and so it went. I think the army changed with the Monarch, Catholic peasants with a Catholic Monarch and so on.
            After the restoration the Monarch had a lot less power and depended on parliament for his money, two things happened:
            Cromwell’s main supporters, the Puritans were persecuted, eventually finishing up in America. Where irony of ironies they started persecuting everyone else, especially the Quakers who were persecuted by the neck until dead. Not the most auspicious start to a Christian Nation !

            With William and Mary not having offspring the House of Hanover came to power, George 3 needed money he could not get from parliament and so tried to tax the American Colonies.
            The Englishmen living in the colonies quite rightly objected to this and defending their rights as Englishmen, mainly that they had no representation in English Parliament and should not therefore pay the taxes. Resulting in independence for the colony and the eventual formation of the United States of America and the Danbury letter promising the separation of church and state. The letter was to reassure the Baptists that there would be no domination by a larger and more influential denomination, that they would have protection of their religious rights against imposition by other religions.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            It’s been said the later English left their colonies better off than before they arrived. At least they brought the industrial revolution along with them, (trains, telegraph, business and govt. bureaucracy) but then the colonies were the source of goods needed.
            Re. “power”, there is the getting, keeping, and loosing. There is struggle at each one. At every loosing, there is something taking it’s place.

          • entech says:

            Some people say that, they don’t always take everything into account. A source of materials was also a market for the product, processed in Britain employing British workers and profiting British companies.
            True railways and communications were valuable infrastructure, particularly valuable for the business interests which were, again British. So perhaps better off in many ways but at a cost.

            But I do think that taking someones country for your own commercial benefit is wrong, the most disgusting excuse and attempted justification is, “we were saving the heathens, bringing them to Jesus”. Taking what they had and returning nothing of value.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            I agree that any action to take control of them and theirs to ” save them for Jesus sake ” is worse than bad. If the word alone can’t do it, how much less can manipulation and theft. The fingerprints of Pietism and greed are all over these enterprises.

            One wonders what james the priest’s explanation to the natives would have been if he had accompanied the Spaniards into Central America. Aw, not really,

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Matt 3:36 re Pres. HW remark about atheists

      The reporter who asked the question and wrote Bush’s answer was credentialed White House reporter. There were Bush staff present. These staff have been asked to deny the statement was made. They do not deny it.

      The quote is not important, but it and the story about the prayer day, “Americans unite…” is typical of the manner in which atheists are not considered “Americans”. The way you interpret the headline as referring to “some” Americans means it could have been written, “Americans unite against the National Day of Prayer and for Reason..” because “some” Americans did just that.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Matt 3:36 “Atheists are probably the least persecuted class of people in the world.”

      I think you would be hard pressed to document that statement. The Smithsonian just cancelled an atheist exhibit due to threats and expressions of outrage:

      http://nationalreport.net/smithsonian-drops-plans-atheism-america-exhibits/

      • entech says:

        Wow, death threats from the peace loving, meek and mild, gentle followers of the lamb.

        Kansas State legislator Tom Edison (R)
        Edison was asked if he felt the anonymous death threats sent to museum staff were going too far. “No, I don’t think so. Not really. Jesus kicked over the tables of the moneychangers. His message there was that violence isn’t always the answer, but sometimes it’s necessary. I’m not saying these museum people should be killed or harmed, I’m not saying that, but it just shows you how offended some people are. And you have to ask, `what would Jesus do?’ And I think the answer is clear. He’d kick over the tables of the moneychangers. That’s what you have to do sometimes to get the point across.”

      • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

        entech 12:32 Thanks for posting the link. There seems to be this idea that because H. W. Bush’s comment was not in all the media it did not happen. The Bush people do not deny it happened.

      • Fr. James says:

        Yes, we do prosecute these cases. When will the public school system start to do that kind of work? When will we take seriously the fact that homosexuals are the real problem?

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Fr. James 8:00 “Yes, we do prosecute these cases.”

          In the U. S., $2.5 Billion paid out. Wouldn’t not you agree that if the Catholic Church had had a policy from square one that these allegations be turned over immediately to law enforcement and the Church was left out of it nearly all of this money would have been saved? That is, the $2.5 billion was paid out largely for covering up priests or harm they did after Church officials knew.

          • Fr. James says:

            They should have followed canon law, but instead they took the advice of psychologists who said they could be treated.

            We now have also banned ordaining homosexuals and that has cut new cases down to the single digits. I am sure that you want to protect the children and support that successful policy. Or perhaps you don’t care about children at all and just want to use these .0001% of abuse cases to tar the whole institution?

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