Monday, October 20, 2014
Idaho: "Celebrate Same-Sex Wedding or Go to Jail"
City officials in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho have told ordained Foursquare Church ministers Donald and Evelyn Knapp they face a 180-day jail term and a $1000 fine each day they decline to celebrate a same-sex "wedding."
Last week a same-sex couple requested the Knapps "marry" them.
The Knapps, because of their biblical beliefs, politely declined as an act of religious beliefs and conscience.
Now city government has taken action.
The Idaho case involving the Knapps, both ordained Foursquare ministers, involves the "Hitching Post Wedding Chapel" which they have operated in Couer d' Alene for more then 20 years.
Fox reported this weekend that the wedding chapel is registered as a "religious corporation" limited to performing "one-man-one-woman marriages as defined in the Holy Bible."
Officials have told the Knapps that because the "city has a non-discrimination statute that includes sexual orientation and gender identity, and because the Ninth Circuit of Appeals struck down Idaho's constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman" the couple will have to officiate at same-sex "weddings" in their own chapel.
If the Knapps continue to honor their faith and conscience this week---just this week, it could cost the couple three and a half years in jail and $7,000 in fines.
The Knapps, themselves, have been married for 47 years and have deeply held biblical beliefs that natural marriage is God's plan and design.
They personally believe that God created two distinct genders in His image and His likeness, and that "God ordained marriage to be between one man and one woman."
Ryan T. Anderson with the Heritage Foundation explains that "as a result of the court's redefining marriage and a city ordinance that creates special privileges based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the Knapps are now facing government coercion."
The Spokesman Review reports that the Knapps have filed a lawsuit that says in part "Performing same-sex wedding ceremonies would thus force the Knapps to condone, promote and even consecrate something forbidden by their religious beliefs and ordination vows."
The Spokesman Review called Coeur d' Alene mayor Steve Widmeyer Friday evening. He told the Review he is not aware of the law suit and had no comment.
By this morning I'm certain he's aware of it. It has become a national story over the weekend.
City attorney Warren Wilson told KXLY TV in Spokane that "any wedding chapel that turns away a gay couple would in theory be in violation of the law."
Wilson also said the Knapps are running a business not a church and are not exempt from the ordinance.
Ironically, homosexual "marriage" in Idaho has not been legal until last Wednesday.
The Ninth Circuit issued an order on May 13 striking down the will of the people and allowing same-sex "marriage" to commence in the state on October 15---last Wednesday.
Two days later the Knapps received the call inquiring about a homosexual "wedding" which they respectfully declined.
Now they are considered by law to be criminal.
How can the city possibly make the claim that forcing the Knapps to perform a same-sex "wedding" is "a compelling government interest being pursued in the least restrictive way," which is what the city must prove.
There are other places these 2 guys could have held their "wedding" celebration---including the County Clerk's Office which is across the street from the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel.
This is clearly not about access.
No one has a right to have the government force a particular minister to "marry" them---or bake their cake, or take their pictures or provide flowers or rent them a room in their Bed and Breakfast.
This is not about access to services, it is a continuing crusade to attack the very foundations of biblical Christianity and religious freedom.
It is an attempt to force people to choose between their deeply held religious beliefs and their livelihood.
For years, a central argument of those in favor of redefining marriage has been that all Americans should be free to live and love as they choose.
But does that freedom require the government to coerce those who disagree into celebrating homosexuality?
As we look at the events of just the past week---pastors being forced to turn over their sermons and communicatons with their congregations to the government to review their positions on homosexuality---now this, we see a trend.
It is becoming evident that state laws that create special rights and privileges based on sexual orientation and so-called gender identity are being used to trump fundamental civil liberties such as freedom of speech and the free exercise of religious freedom.
"Tolerance," once used to advance the homosexual agenda, is hardly mentioned in this "new normal" social environment.
Ryan T. Anderson has written an excellent paper on "Protecting Religious Liberty in the State Marriage Debate," I recommend you read it.
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Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Informed. Be Prayerful. Be Pro-Active. Be Blessed.