Today’s letter – Shouldn’t Churches Decide

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

The biggest arguments I’ve been in about same-sex marriage have hinged on what the bible says about same-sex relationships. Apparently not even the churches can decide!

Some, like the Episcopal Church, believe that all God’s children should be able to participate in the rites of the Church. Others, like the Catholic Church, decided that gay people are not worthy of the rites of ordination and marriage.

When St. James Anglican Church in Newport Beach had to choose between “treat thy neighbor as thyself” and “I’m better than the gays,” they decided to leave the Episcopal Church. Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled that St. James cannot violate the beliefs of the Church, and take the property of the Church with them.

St. James is the exception that proves the rule: freedom of religion demands freedom to marry. The Supreme Court realizes this, the legislature realizes this, and the churches realize this. Why does our government continue to block my freedom to believe, and my freedom to marry?

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – United Methodists have their beliefs, why can’t I have mine?

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Every four years, the United Methodist Church holds a meeting to set church policy. At this year’s conference, the delegates:

– Upheld a church law that says gay and lesbian relationships are “incompatible with Christian teaching.”
– Kept a sentence in the Book of Discipline that says the church “does not condone the practice of homosexuality.”
– Retained a policy that lets pastors deny membership to gays and lesbians.

I think it is great that the United Methodist Church can make and enforce their own laws regarding who is able to participate in their community.

While the United Methodist Church has chosen to exclude lesbian and gay people from their ministry, my Episcopal church (like the Presbyterians, United Church of Christ and Metropolitan Community Church) has taken a different view that goes something along the lines that every human being is worthy of dignity and respect.

Governor, why are the United Methodists allowed to decide that gay couples will not get married in their church, while my church is not allowed to decide that gay couples will be allowed to marry in their church? Worse, why is my government – and my governor – enforcing this?

I’m starting to suspect that the real threat of the ban on same-sex marriage is a government intervention in the way America worships. Removing that freedom begins a slippery slide that will hurt us all.

I wish you would support the freedom to marry. It would not block the United Methodists one bit, but it would free my church to practice our beliefs without interference from you.

Yours,