Churches decry gay marriage ruling
At First Baptist Dallas, where the pulpit was adorned Sunday with red, white and blue bunting to honor the Fourth of July, the pastor called the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling “an affront in the face of Almighty God.”
The iconic rainbow colors that bathed the White House on Friday night once the court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide represent “depravity, degradation and what the Bible calls sexual perversion,” the Rev. Robert Jeffress said.
“But we are not discouraged,” Jeffress said. “We are not going to be silenced. This is a great opportunity for our church to share the truth and love of Jesus Christ, and we are going to do it.”
In contrast, the Supreme Court ruling made pride events more historic and jubilant.
Hundreds of thousands of people packed gay pride events from Chicago to New York City, Seattle to San Francisco, with overall attendance for events expected in the millions. In New York City, organizers expected about 22,000 people to march, while in San Francisco, organizers put the number at 26,000.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo used his newly granted powers to officiate at the wedding ceremony of a same-sex couple in Manhattan. It was held in front of the Stonewall Inn, where in 1969 gay bar patrons stood up to a police raid, beginning the modern gay rights movement.
Nikita Lowery, a 28-year-old resident of Chicago, said she decided to attend that city’s parade for the first time this year. “I feel like it’s a true celebration now,” she said.
On the first Sunday since the high court ruling, theological conservatives grappled with their new status as what the Southern Baptists call “a moral minority” on marriage. Ministers were defiant about publicly upholding their views and warned church members to prepare themselves for a rough time ahead.
“Welcome to the new world. It’s just changed for you Christians. You are going to be persecuted,” Alabama’s Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore said from the pulpit at the Kimberly Church of God, in Kimberly, Ala.
Moore, who fought a losing battle to keep a Ten Commandments monument he erected inside Alabama’s state judicial building, said the decision goes against the laws of nature.
“Is there such a thing as morality anymore? Sodomy for centuries was declared to be against the laws of nature and nature’s God. And now if you say that in public, and I guess I am, am I violating somebody’s civil rights? Have we elevated morality to immorality? Do we call good, bad? What are we Christians to do?”
In their dissents to the ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia, each expressed similar concerns. First Amendment protections for clergy and worship are clear, leaving churches to decide who they will marry. But religious liberty protections are less certain for faith-based charities, schools and hospitals that want to hire and fire based on religious beliefs.
“I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers and schools,” Alito wrote.
At liberal churches, pastors and congregants rejoiced.