The Family Research Council, which recently devoted a national telecast to the proposition that the gay rights movement is out to destroy religious liberty in America, wasted no time distorting the New Jersey Supreme Court decision holding that the state could not continue to deny gay and lesbian couples the same rights and benefits available to heterosexual couples through marriage. The Court stopped short of requiring the state to allow gays to marry under state law, giving the legislature 180 days to decide whether to amend the marriage laws or create another institution like civil unions.
In an email to its activists, FRC blatantly distorted a line in the Court’s ruling (PDF) that affirmed churches’ freedom to bless gay unions if they so choose: “However the Legislature may act,” the majority writes, “same-sex couples will be free to call their relationships by the name they choose and sanctify their relationships in religious ceremonies in houses of worship.”
But FRC portrayed this simple statement as an indication by the Court that “a confrontation with the church is near.”
The court is already working to strip marriage of any meaning, and now it looks to foist its counterfeit on the church. Will we soon see this same “discrimination” as grounds to force homosexuality on our houses of worship? The church is already under attack-from those inside who want to advance an agenda of approval, and those outside, who hope to use the politics of intimidation to crush the freedom of religion. The ruling makes this much clear: the church must be prepared to defend its right of conscience and conviction.
Charging religious persecution is a time-tested political strategy for the Religious Right. But there is no truth whatsoever to FRC’s suggestion that the New Jersey Supreme Court or gay rights advocates want to “force” homosexuality on churches. Thanks to the First Amendment, churches in New Jersey and anywhere in America are free to bless or refuse to bless any union. And a recent national survey documented that when Americans understand that churches are legally free to refuse to bless same-sex couples, support for allowing those couples to legally marry goes way up. No wonder the Religious Right is so eager to sell its big lie.