Monday, October 20, 2014

Idaho: "Celebrate Same-Sex Wedding or Go to Jail"

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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.

Or else!

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.

I also recommend...

Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Informed. Be Prayerful. Be Pro-Active. Be Blessed.


  1. I guess this is no longer the land of the free and home of the brave. Where is the outcry from Christians in support of this couple?? How is it that anyone can abrogate the rights of another simply by getting a lawyer and filing a complaint? I submit that the rights of one group of people should not be denied simply to enforce the rights of another group. The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America grants freedom to churches and by inference to Pastors as well.
    What has happened to us?

    1. I'm feeling an outcry right now! Let's flood the councils with our message. Why not? Does anyone of us dare?

    2. No, it is now the land of the fee and the home of the slave.

  2. What I truly don't understand is why people insist on having their so-called "very best" and "most memorable" day involve people who do not support their marriages? Doesn't that lack of support bring a negative air, a negative energy into their celebration? Is that negative energy really desired so much that they will ruin their "day" for that. Why not go somewhere where you everyone will be joy-filled?

    1. It's all about advancing a political agenda (vs. 'their day.') Sad really.

  3. What is the name of the guys who want to marry? We should know who is creating the stir.

    1. This is a pre-emptive lawsuit by this new business that was newly registered a month ago with the aid of an ADF attorney and is not in response to any civil or private action taken.

      This is a sham case brought up by people who under their old business model advertise they would do both religious and civil ceremonies on request even offered to hire a special minister for a client's particular event.

      At least we will never hear anyone complaining that someone has shopped around to find a case they could take to court - this advocacy group is so brazen about it they didn't even wait to be sued, they just made a new business they thought they could win on and then sued the city that was dragging its feet on persecuting them. :)

  4. I just wrote the Mayor:

  5. They might be ordained ministers, but the Hitching Post itself is purely a 'for profit' business, it's not a church.

    You can check their business registry on the Idaho Secretary of State's website. They are registered simply as a 'for profit' LLC. You can even view their certificate of organization. Nothing in there indicates that they are a religious organization, simply a business.

    And as such, they must operate in accordance with local and state laws regulating businesses. They don't get to operate outside of the law just because they disagree with it.

  6. I will pray that this couple "stick to their guns" and REFUSE to do that which is unGodly, no matter the consequences imposed upon them by evil people.

  7. You are quite right. And if we find the laws and the people who passed them abhorrent it is imperative that we rise up and throw the b****ts out and replace them with ones that will enact better legislation.

  8. Let's be honest: This has nothing to do with the Knapps' "religious beliefs and conscience." Until a week ago, their website made clear they performed "wedding ceremonies of other faiths as well as civil weddings." Clearly, performing a Muslim wedding or a civil wedding for atheists violates their "religious beliefs and conscience," but that did not stop them. It's clear they are targeting gay couples only.

    Interestingly, they've scrubbed that welcoming text about a week ago, presumably in preparation for their lawsuit.

    Funny how you never hear of Christian business owners in the wedding industry turning away previously divorced couples, couples who’ve had premarital sex, atheists, couples of other religions, etc. Only gay couples are targeted, over and over again. Evidently, “religious beliefs and conscience” only matter when they have a desire to discriminate against gay couples.

    Finally, the Knapps do not get special rights. If a gay man owned a wedding business like theirs (and let's be clear, this IS a business and not a church), and the Knapps wanted to marry there, the gay man would be required by law to perform the ceremony. And rightly so.

    1. 3:17

      Hmmm... are these previously divorced or promicious couples making their previous conduct an open issue? Are they broadcasting their disdain for God's plan for marriage? Hmmm... I didn't think so.

      If they did, the Knapps would be within God's will to not perform the marriages
      There is no proscription in the Bible against marrying people of other faiths, atheists, etc, so doing so would not violate biblical principles.

      Homosexuality is an "abomination " in God's sight. I didn't make it up.

      This is what happens when people who don't know God's word spout off. They make fools of themselves.

      Clearly you are misinformed.

      Craig in Lacey

    2. Religious beliefs and conscience matter most when dealing with abominations, and not so much against lesser things, and when people or courts meddle against our constitutional rights, they are wrong. Such people and courts put themselves above the constitution of the state and nation, setting themselves up where they do not belong. May God throw them down.

  9. And another situation where the reality isn't the media hype.

    Yes, several months ago when the first of the marriage equality rulings came down from federal courts the city attorney said that the for-profit wedding chapel that advertised doing both religious and civil ceremonies as well as renting out a wedding venue for people who wanted to BTOO (Bring their Own Officiate) and would help coordinate weddings in balloons, on roller coasters and even out of state WAS a public accommodation and would have to comply with the city civil rights ordinance.

    Just one month ago, the business completely reincorporated with an entirely new business certificate which was authorized by an Americans Defending Freedom attorney. The business employee agreement now even says they will discriminate based on the beliefs of their employees even though they do not qualify for any of the business models allowed to do so under Title VII of the federal statutes.

    The city has not filed any action against them as this new business and it is the business that is suing the city saying they are NOW a religious organization and should be exempt from the city civil rights rulings.

    So this business is now only legally a month old formed with the legal add of an advocacy group which is now suing based on comments by the city attorney referring to the old business that was at that site, owned by the same people when no legal action has been taken against this new business at all.

    How can Christians allow themselves to be manipulated like this by people obviously using methods that aren't coming from the good place?

    1. "and would have to comply with the city civil rights ordinance." Clearly the City was setting up the conflict between its laws and people's religious conscience (which is protected by the First Amendment.)

      "How can Christians allow themselves to be manipulated like this by people obviously using methods that aren't coming from the good place?"

      How can you stand in judgment, when the first item is true? Basically, it seems to me that this couple saw the writing on the City Hall wall and decided to be proactive in refusing to serve gay couple looking to marry in their establishment, based on their religious convictions. This is protected under the First Amendment.

  10. The mayor should be pulling on the jail bars and shouting, "Let God's people Go!"

    It seems like the government for now, is no longer of the people, nor for the people.

  11. No matter what the website archives said or what arguments are made, the real point is that if you are a Christian in today's America, you are allowed to practice your faith only inside the walls of a church. Outside of it, you better play well with others by leaving your faith home and donning secular words in all of your conversations. If you don't agree with the secularists, then you will be facing litigation in some form or be ostracized, black-balled.

    This worked real well in the USSR as I recall.


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