Wednesday, September 4, 2013

When Church and State Collide

There has been a major debate over a small time bakery and other businesses that refused service—based on religious belief—to gay couples preparing for marriage. In some cases suits were filed and won by the gay couples. This is not about the cases themselves, but the dangers that lie ahead.

Let's begin by my stating that I do believe a business has the right to refuse service for many reasons. I think businesses that don't want to serve gays should put up a sign to indicate their desire. This would give gays and their supporters notice to not spend money with these businesses. The greatest part of being American is the right to make choices, especially informed choices.

We often wonder from what vantage point a person writes, so I want to state that I personally don't believe government should be involved in marriage because all Americans should be equal under the law. Because government chose to interject itself in personal relationships, a dangerous door was opened.

Conservative Christians are quick to tell us that marriage is between a man and a woman, as well as a rite belonging to the Christian doctrine. Let's for a moment assume they are correct and marriage is property of the Christian church.

Those service businesses in question have chosen to base their decision of not serving on religion. The gay couples wanting to be married are doing so because without marriage they cannot enjoy certain liberties. A judge has said that marriage affects 1100 different laws and regulations. One of the most discussed aspects are taxes and inheritance. If there were no advantages to filing a joint tax return, there would be no need for that aspect of the tax code. No matter if the couple is of the same sex or traditional, they seek marriage for the same reasons, it makes legal sense.

If marriage belongs to the Christian religion, could it not be said that the church uses government to force a Christian practice on non Christians? Those businesses—and their supporters—that refused service are angry that government is forcing them to participate in a function with which they disagree on religious grounds.

Let's turn this around and look at the many things forced on non Christians. There are holidays such as Christmas and Easter that are Christian. Even though Easter isn't on the list of federal holidays, federal workers are dismissed on a designated day to give them an extended weekend. In essence, federal workers are required to participate in Christian holidays no matter their personal belief.

When Americans are elected to office or become an officer in the military they are required to give an oath in the name of God. We find the Ten Commandments on the wall of the Supreme Court. We find religion mixed with government in too many places to mention.

Because Christianity is already a part of government, the church has given a part of itself to government. Because of this marriage between religion and State, one can't be surprised when government begins directing when and where personal religious beliefs cannot be applied.

When the church applies for a tax exemption, they know that exemption comes with strings. There are certain things the church can't do once they accept the exemption, such as limitations on political activities. Once government began making laws that favored citizens who are married, it then claimed the power to insure those favoritism are applied equally to all.

Too often the line between government and religion is blurred. Government locates election polls in churches and other buildings belonging to the church. When asked to testify in a court of law a bible is offered on which you must place your hand—there are alternatives. But the fact that it is offered in a government proceeding should be worrisome to the Christian church. Christians might wake someday to find rites from other religions forced on them. Until the church separates itself from government, it can't be surprised when government tells people when and where they can practice their faith.

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