In Defense of the Christian’s Rights

In Defense of the Christian’s Rights

religious liberty in chainsby Mekelle Tenney

Oral arguments began Monday for a case that many are saying is the most important the Supreme Court will hear this year. In the last three days I have read dozens and dozens of blogs and news articles discussing same-sex marriage. I have read several excellent arguments addressing the many complex questions and problems that arise from this issue. I however would like to make an argument in defense of the Christians in America. In the debate on marriage Christians have;

  1. Had their voice belittled and disregarded solely because they have a religious base
  2. Have been denied their basic fundamental right to religious freedom
  3. Have been penalized for having and exercising religious beliefs and principles
  4. Have been labeled as bigoted and ignorant

I am a Christian and I want to make it clear that my views regarding this issue are based on my belief in a Supreme Being and his plan for his children. Though social science supports my arguments for marriage between only one man and one woman I cannot deny that my passion for this issue is derived from my religious convictions. Unfortunately America has been plagued by the belief that religious based principles have no place in the political realm. Religious believers, Christians to be more specific, are often stereotyped as closed minded, bigoted, and ignorant. My views as a Christian are neither ignorant nor bigoted. And they do not disqualify me as a voice in this debate.

Submitted to the Supreme Court was an amicus brief written by a coalition of almost 20 different Christian denominations. Though the brief was written for the Supreme Court I believe it presents arguments that should be presented to the nation. I feel that the following experts offer strong support of the Christian’s stance in the same-sex marriage debate. The summary of the brief states the following:

“Recognizing a new right to same-sex marriage would harm religious liberty. That harm is avoidable because neither the Constitution nor this Court’s precedents dictates a single definition of marriage for the Nation……Our religious beliefs, reason, and practical experience with families lead us to support the manwoman definition of marriage. Contrary to malicious caricatures, we do so not out of animus or ignorance but out of concern, conviction, and love.”

They continued to address the possibility of the court deciding that laws defining marriage between a man or woman as being hostile and the damaging effects that would have on Christians.

“A decision that traditional marriage laws are grounded in animus (hostility or ill will) would demean us and our beliefs. It would stigmatize us as fools or bigots, akin to racists……Because we cannot renounce our scriptural beliefs, a finding of animus would consign us to second-class status as citizens whose religious convictions about vital aspects of society are deemed illegitimate. Assaults on our religious institutions and our rights of free exercise, speech, and association would intensify.”

Another issue addressed is the danger that would be imposed on religious liberties if the court held that sexual orientation was a class that had been discriminated against because they had been denied the ability to legally marry.

“Judicial suspicion would quickly follow, aiming not only at laws but also at the beliefs and practices of religious organizations and believers themselves. If this Court declares sexual orientation a suspect class (a class that has been subjected to discrimination), it will soon be argued that the government has a compelling interest in protecting against private religious conduct that burdens homosexual conduct……A constitutional right to same-sex marriage under any theory would create severe tensions with religious freedoms and related interests across a wide array of religious, educational, social, and cultural fronts. Directly or not, such a High Court ruling would unavoidably convey “hostility toward religion. . . inconsistent with our history and our precedents.”

In regards to the accusation that those who oppose same-sex marriage are “hatters” they boldly state:

“We emphatically reject the accusation that we and millions of our fellow believers seek to protect traditional marriage out of “ancient religious bigotry against gay persons.” Id. That slander aims to intimidate and suppress public conversation on a complex issue by equating disagreement with hatred. Laws reserving marriage for the union of a man and a woman were the universal rule in this country until a decade ago. They are not tokens of ignorance and bigotry now.” (Justice Alito made a similar observation during Tuesdays oral arguments.)

The brief in its entirety offers a strong defense of Christians and their belief in traditional marriage as well as defending their religious liberties. I stand with many other Christians in my belief that marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman. Marriage is a fundamental unit that our society depends on for stability. The impact that this case will have on America is hard to imagine. We have already seen on a state level the discrimination perpetuated against Christians as a result of legalizing same-sex marriage. We have heard countless cases of Christians who were fined to the point of financial ruin for not bending to the will of a same-sex couple. Our short history with same-sex marriage leads me to believe that if the court finds that same-sex marriage is a Constitutional right Christians will lose their God given religious rights.

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