Religion and the same-sex marriage amendment

Several listeners taking in this afternoon’s rebroadcast of last night’s forum on Minnesota’s same sex marriage constitutional amendment noticed that a lot of it was dueling Bible passages.

They’ve let us know they noticed that:

This discussion is so incredibly far off base it is absolutely incredible. As the discussion went on during the “MPR Debate: Constitutional amendment on marriage,” all I heard, over and over again, was Jesus and the Bible define marriage and the law must follow the Bible. While in their own context that’s true, government must support ALL the people, not just Christians and their theology. The desire to marry and enjoy all the benefits of the laws of the land that surround marriage has NOTHING to do with religion it has to do with civil law. Thus, engaging in a religious debate is simply false. Where are the voices of Buddhists, Atheists, Jews, Wiccans, etc? Where are the voices of the average American with no religious axe to grind? Admittedly, the reason you invited Reverend Jerry McAfee because religion has been extremely vocal on this issue. But, frankly, I am tired of being preached at by Christians who are continuing to try to do with legislation and the vote, what they have failed to do with persuasion. — James Garlough, Apple Valley

Listening today to the debate on the marriage amendment, it seems to me a glaring lack of attention is on the need to strengthen the separation of church and state in our country. A sub topic is the 3 branches of government balancing each other.

Health care debate, marriage ammendment, role of the judiciary, a preacher saying that our countries law should be based on the bible? What about separation of church and state?

I am a Catholic, who is all for freedom of religion and also for granting the civil right to marriage to lesbians and gays as a way to strengthen marriage and family.

By the way, the Catholic church states that: “the Church’s leaders are to avoid endorsing or opposing candidates or telling people how to vote” (US Conference of Catholic Bishops) Many of us question if they should be campaigning for amendments. The hierarchy is treading a fine line on their own teachings. — Sue Nichols/St. Paul

Voting “NO’ does not remove the protections of the constitutional concept of separation of church and state. I would argue voting “YES” tricks us into doing just that. Why impose religious values on marriage from a governmental perspective? Christians are not the only ones who can be married. Children are not taught only Christians have rights. Why discuss religious issues in school at all? Different religions are free in this country to define marriage in their own way. — Fritzie Borgwardt/Edina

If you removed the religion from the public discourse of government, what would this debate sound like?

  • Chris

    If you removed religious concerns from any argument against gay marriage, then you are left with one group of people that want to legislate their will onto another group of people. The idea that because you don’t want to be involved in a same sex marriage, so no one else should be able to either. It is truly wrong to be both so judgmental and hypocritical at the same time. The judgmental part was mentioned above. They hypocritical part is where these “Christians” a) judge others in violation of the Bible and b) want to force non-Christians to live by the “Christians” religious views through legislation, but they also want to be free from governmental persecution themselves, nor do they want other people’s religious views pushed onto them.

  • jon

    1) to answer your question:

    With out dipping into religion it sounds like people shouting “think of the children!”

    It sounds like people saying “If gays are given equal rights, it might be considered a crime to say things like ‘God Hates Fags’ and that disrupts my rights to say things like that.”

    2) The bible isn’t what it seems.

    There is no mention of homosexuality in the New Testament of the King James version of the bible.

    There are at least two in the NIV.

    So the question become who got it wrong, folks in 1611 or folks in 1973?

    Surprisingly people who know more then I do say that NIV translated words like “pedophile” to “homosexual” (which if you watch 1950’s anti-homosexual propaganda they use the words interchangeably as well. I don’t know if they were used interchangeably in 69-73 when NIV was translated)

    The bible condemns homosexuality in two places that I’m aware of. one calls it an abomination (though it does the same to bacon) the other says one should not lie with a man as one does with a woman (which doesn’t seem to say “Don’t do it” so much as it says “Do it differently!” to me.)

    But so long as faith is blind, and we’ve no need to research what it is we are actually putting our faith in to better understand it. We will have people who will be willing to follow mistranslated as though they are the word of god. (tag that in with the christian scientists that say the bible hasn’t been mistranslated (or that any mistranslated were the work of god) you’ve got a recipe for the same situation as our current political environment, where every one is entitled to their own facts.)

  • mickey

    The irony is that Rev McAfee is using the same bible to justify discrimination against gays that was used to justify slavery for hundreds of years.

  • noodleman

    Adding to Jon’s comment: Zero mention of sexuality in KJV but several references, by Jesus, of divorce and adultery, especially in the Sermon on the Mount. If fundamentalists truly lived their lives by the Scripture, Newt Gingrich (and Rush Limbaugh) would’ve been stoned to death quite some time ago.


  • Disco

    “If you removed the religion from the public discourse of government, what would this debate sound like?”

    Oh they have plenty of other excuses to toss at you:

    – marriage has been one man/one woman for thousands of years. why change now?

    – same-sex couples can’t have children (and don’t try to obfuscate this point with facts about adoption)

    – it’s the foundation of the family

    – having a mom/dad is better for children

    – slippery slope toward you marrying your pet turtle and/or your sister

    – weakens the institution of marriage (divorce? what’s that?)

    – homosexuality is immoral

  • bsimon

    If you remove religion from the debate it becomes readily apparent that the state has zero interest in the relative genders of partners in marriage.

    Catholics, to pick on the faith in which I grew up, have nothing to fear from same sex marriage. A change in the law about who can be married legally has zero impact on how the Catholic church administers the sacrament of marriage – just as civil divorce laws are unrelated to the church’s procedure for annulments.

  • Sue

    With all of this discussion about the bible dictating our government constitutional amendments has me wondering if I am in America or in Afghanistan with the Taliban?

    I don’t know when our American government was turned into a theocracy but that is what it feels like to me. I thought the reason America was colonized was for religious freedom.

  • Bob Collins

    Freedom from religious persecution but not freedom from religion. In fact, in Massachusetts, the Congregational Church was the official state church until the 1800s.

  • Lars

    Moral values, reflected in religion, are at the foundation of many of our laws and in the Constitution. Laws against stealing and murder are reflecting moral values. Nothing new here. Laws and ammendments protecting the special status of marriage reflect moral values. Did you know the latest ammendment to the MN Constitution reflects the values we place on hunting and fishing? You can explain it either way. The point is, marriage is a fundamentally unique relationship which we have decided to reflect in our laws in society. The marriage ammendment doesn’t ban anything and it isn’t against anything. Others are free to seek special recognition for anything else, but don’t call it marriage.

  • BJ

    Lars – the marriage amendment does ban marriage between people of same sex.

    That’s is what is is for. It it true it doesn’t change anything because we already have a law that ban’s same sex marriage. But it is clearly a ban.

    IF marriage needs to be defined in our constitution what other words should be defined for all time in our state constitution?

  • Jim!!!

    Religion Poisons Everything.

  • MikeK

    Wow, if any BELIEF based system wants to have this much say in my government then they can start paying taxes on their property and start playing by all of the fair labor LAWS etc.

    If identical twins were standing in front of that crowd and one was gay and the other not I defy the “yes” crowd to show me the factual and physical scientific evidence that says one of those twins should be denied the ability to be happily married. It’s a belief system.

    The christian based religions who what to hang on to this archaic stand on “marriage” should also be filing amendments to ban divorce. Why? Well, a church marriage is a sacrament not to be broken. It is a supernatural institution (right from the Catholic Church) based on belief that Christ participated in the marriage at Cana. “Supernatural,” as in above scientific and factual explanation.

    Marriage is an institution and it’s about property and control. It’s time to return that control to ALL people not just some of the people.

  • Wayne

    I defy any Christian to supply a biblical text wherein God is QUOTED in opposition to gay marriage. There are NONE. I do not worship Paul nor any other biblical “author” who claims to know what God thinks. When Christians begin killing their disobedient children as commanded by Deuterononmy, perhaps I’ll start paying attention. Besides, any idiot out riding his horse in a rainstorm has no credibility!

  • Jose R.

    I am confused by the following statement:

    “I defy any Christian to supply a biblical text wherein God is QUOTED in opposition to gay marriage. There are NONE.”

    Well, I defy any non-believer, or Christian for that matter, to supply a biblical text wherein God is QUOTED as being in favor of same sex marriage. There are NONE, you dork. (How unchristian of me!!)

    In fact, the bible PROVIDES MANY BIBLICAL TEXTS IN WHICH GOD has much to say about “heterosexual” marriage, and yes, heterosexual divorce. But the bible AND GOD ARE ABSOLUTELY SILENT with regard to SAME SEX marriage or divorce.

    I do not worship Paul because he was, after all, a man, and I am sure he would not want me too. But he would want me to worship God, and respect the message God gave him to impart. Paul does not seem to be voicing his personal opinion. YOU CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS. Either you believe he was a messenger of God, or you don’t.

    By the way, Christians NEVER killed their disobedient children. You have just misinterpreted the scripture in Deuteronomy. 😉

  • Stephen

    Forgetting ancient books… Homosexuality is wrong, so homosexual marriage is wrong. It is an evolutionary dead end. Homosexuals can marry if they wish and no law prevents it. But do not expect the government to use my money (yes, it is my money) to grant benefits to the partners. I support heterosexual marriage and no other type,

  • Alison

    \\If you removed the religion from the public discourse of government, what would this debate sound like?

    I doubt there would be nearly as much debate. I think we should remove religion from the public discourse regarding marriage. Clergy should not be granted the ability witness the legal contract of marriage. This government function should be reserved for government officials. If you would like a religious marriage AND a civil marriage, that is your choice, but you need to do them separately. This is the only way that some people will see the distinction between religious and civil marriage. It might be the only way for many religious people to begin to comprehend that there are many who do not believe as they do, and as such feel no obligation to follow their rules.

  • Peter

    Stop talking about God. I’m not Christian. I don’t believe in your magical man in the sky who created everything. If your ONLY argument is that Jesus doesn’t want gays to get married, you have no logical argument, because I don’t believe in your stupid religion.

    If you don’t want to marry two men, fine. But don’t put your Christian Sharia law on the rest of us.

  • Dean

    So Stephen, you don’t want the government to use your money to grant benefits to the partners, but it’s ok to use homosexuals’ money to grant benefits to heterosexual partners? Doesn’t that smack of hypocrisy? Isn’t a married heterosexual couple that is sterile also an evolutionary dead-end? Your “logic” is illogical.

  • Gary

    I don’t know how any religious ideas get into politics. Everyone knows that no religious teachings are correct unless they have been found on golden plates and interpreted by a known charlatan using his magic hat and rock. But the question is, “If you removed the religion from the public discourse of government, what would this debate sound like?” I say civility, and probably less sarcasm.

  • Jessica

    I think it’s hilarious when people say religion has no place in the government. If that was the true intention then why do we swear on the holy bible in the court room? Why are the Ten Commandments hanging up at the Supreme Court? Why was the Declaration of Independence based off the Ten Commandments? Why does it say In God we trust on all our currency? I believe the separation of church and state was put in place to protect the churches not the other way around…

  • Alison

    The Declaration of Independence was based off the Ten Commandments?

  • Bob Collins

    // If that was the true intention then why do we swear on the holy bible in the court room?

    Actually, we don’t put a handle on the bible in civil court and most civil ceremonies. One only raises one’s hand and swears under penalty.

    “In God We Trust” on money does not go back to the founders of the nation. It goes back to President Eisenhower.

  • Jessica

    I’m just saying for something that is supposed to be so separate from one another, it appears there is a whole lot of God in the government. If the intention was to keep the separate than why is that?

  • Julie Kallemeyn

    Ok everyone.we all came to America to separate church and state. Why isn’t it obvious to us that the state should regulate civil union and churches should determine who they will issue a m arriage license more problems.