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Gay Marriage Coming After the Church

A Gay Marriage Equality bill (read SB 6239) has been introduced this month in Washington State. The measure is deceptive and exceedingly dangerous. It represents a radical shift in the definition of marriage, and it would pose a serious threat to religious freedom.
The bill’s introduction says it would not force clergy or churches to marry gays. However, it adds to state marriage law a section dealing with discrimination. To date, there have never been discrimination provisions in the Washington Marriage Code.
The discriminatory clauses are a pretty clear warning about the future. You don’t add discrimination for the first time without an intention to use it. First they label it discrimination; then they criminalize it. They say they are respecting clergy and churches but they place refusal to marry gays in the category of discrimination. Sexual rights are more important than the violation of a core tenet of our religious beliefs.
A bill which describes the conditions under which a church can be sued for discrimination against gays is not about marriage equality, and it certainly does not protect religious freedom. The Gay Marriage Equality bill is a serious threat to religious freedom in Washington State. It takes aim at the heart of religious freedom.

Churches and ministers who participate in the newly defined “discrimination” against gays would be subject to lawsuits and legal penalties. If they have their way we will be bludgeoned into acceptance and submission. They want the church to accept and approve of gay marriage whether we like it or not.

Pastor Joe Fuiten

The state has already granted gays every right that goes along with marriage. They have equality under the law. But that’s apparently not enough for Governor Gregoire and the homosexual special interest groups. The backers of the Gay Marriage Equality bill will not be satisfied until virtually every church in Washington is forced to allow gays to hold their weddings in church sanctuaries under the threat of discrimination lawsuits. The laws against discrimination are so expansive that virtually every church in Washington could come under legal threat. Just fighting back legally could bankrupt most churches whether or not we were actually guilty of anything.

All the hype on this bill says it protects religious freedom. Nothing could be further from the truth. The bill says a church can refuse to marry gays without being subject to “a civil claim or cause of action unless…. When someone says we are not going to have a problem “unless…” we already have a problem. More than that, when they add a section to the marriage laws covering “discrimination” they are telling you how this will eventually go down. They intend to come after churches and clergy using discrimination as their weapon. Section 7 merits a very careful read:

Consistent with the law against discrimination [RCW 49.60], no religious organization is required to provide accommodations, facilities, advantages, privileges, services, or goods related to the solemnization or celebration of a marriage unless the organization offers admission, occupancy, or use of these accommodations or facilities to the public for a fee, or offers those advantages, privileges, services, or goods to the public for sale.

They want us to tolerate them but they don’t want to tolerate us. They want to use the power of the state and civil rights laws to force the church into accepting homosexuality. They give lip service to religious freedom while at the same time setting up the legal system to empower homosexual coercion of the church. This is not marriage equality. It is the setup for a knockdown. They already have equality but that is not what they actually want. They want to force the church to accept homosexuality.

Some churches might be able to decline to host gay weddings under some limited circumstances but would be forced to allow gay weddings in their sanctuary under most circumstances.

What churches could be forced to allow gay weddings?

  • Does the public ever use your facilities? If you ever allow non-members to use your sanctuary for a wedding you could NOT deny a gay couple from using your sanctuary.
  • Do you have a pop machine or sell coffee?
  • Do you sometimes have fundraisers where you sell cookies or popcorn for consumption at the church?
  • Have you ever allowed your church to be used by another Christian organization for which they paid you a fee?

All of those actions would open the door to a civil rights lawsuit and severe penalties if you failed to allow a gay couple to use your facility to have their wedding.

The laws covering discrimination create a wide net to include any place “… where food or beverages of any kind are sold for consumption on the premises,” Discrimination also includes places with “schools of special instruction, or nursery schools, or day care centers or children’s camps” Those provisions alone include thousands of Washington churches. Since the marriage laws of Washington have never referenced discrimination before, this so-called “Gay Marriage Equality” bill will change everything.

The church that I pastor would probably have at least twenty different avenues from which we could be attacked under this proposed Gay Marriage Equality law. Our refusal to have gay weddings is labeled as “discriminatory” under this law even though we would be theoretically exempted from prosecution from the government “unless…”

However, the “discriminatory” label would deprive a church like ours of grants and gifts from any organizations which have a policy against “discrimination defined by law.” One only has to remember United Way’s hostile treatment of the Boy Scouts decision prohibiting gay scout leaders. That is the future of religious freedom as well.

The bill is very deceptive about its intentions.

Several places it claims to protect religious freedom and to respect clergy and religious institutions. This is pure propaganda of the worst sort.

It is democracy Soviet style:

  • Say one thing and do another.
  • Say you are protecting churches but label their actions as discriminatory and make them subject to the criminal laws on discrimination.
  • Say that no state agency or local government can penalize an organization if a minister refuses to marry a gay but threaten the church with a claim for damages or cause of action if they don’t rent to gays for weddings or receptions.

The Gay Marriage Equality bill touts the narrow religious exemption to deceive the gullible while hiding the cause for legal actions under the wide net of the discrimination clause. The velvety call for equality hides the iron fist reserved for religious holdouts.


Dr. Joseph B. Fuiten has served as Senior Pastor of Cedar Park Assembly of God in Bothell WA since 1981. During that time, he established Washington State’s largest private school in five locations, and established a day camp program and a counseling center.   His books include Modern Pentecostal Controversies, Revenge of Ephesus, and Special Appointments with God. 
  • Michele

    Great article! The church can no longer sit on the sidelines and pretend political issues do not affect them; this is a prime example of losing our freedoms because we do not engage!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bob-Struble/778084217 Bob Struble

      Well, Michele, we did engage with energy and dedication, especially in the Catholic churches. All three bishops in our three dioceses worked actively to get petitions and reject R-74. We set a record for number of petitions gathered. But in the November election 53% of the voters invited a curse down upon our heads rather than listen to our arguments and pleas.

      And now, in June, if the high Court pulls another “Roe” re marriage, it will
      prove the political system to be hostile and tragically futile. As citizens our
      alternatives will be God or country (as in Rome before Constantine),or else escalation of patriotic resistance. For ideas on how Christians can rise to the next level of patriotism,see my “Farewell to Apostate America.”
      http://catholiclane.com/farewell-to-apostate-america-tentative-exit-plan/

  • torqueflite

    Complete nonsense. The “unless” clause references Federal law on public accommodation. A church that rents out a facility to the public for payment (rather than solemnizing a marriage with its own clergy in its house of worship) falls under this law, which was implemented to ensure that identifiable groups are not discriminated against for public services. Denying gay people the use of rental accommodations is like Southern drugstores refusing to serve black customers during the 1960s. No one, not Washington state or any other state, has insisted that the Catholic Church marry divorced people as Catholics (or anyone else against whom they choose to discriminate). Be honest and admit that there is no threat to “religious liberty” but state plainly that the law does protect the rights of gay people to access a public accommodation as it would any other class of American citizens.