Loss of churches’ tax-exempt status? “Who really cares, anyway? Do it,” Williston pastor adds
By Guy Page
Two Vermont pastors are expressing concern about the no vote cast by Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders on a religious freedom amendment to the gay marriage bill.
The Respect for Marriage Act (H8404) passed the US Senate Tuesday after Utah Sen. Mike Lee’s proposed religious freedom amendment failed 48-49. Both Leahy and Sanders voted no on the Lee amendment and yes on the bill.
The switcheroo on the religious liberty amendment concerns me, as does the silence by either Senator Welch or Sanders as to the importance of preserving basic religious liberty rights.”
– John Klar
“If a majority of Americans support gay marriage, our Republic has now appropriately provided for that in the law,” John Klar of Brookfield wrote in a response to a VDC inquiry yesterday about the Senate votes. “But if a majority wishes to demonize or inflict prejudicial retaliation against people of faith, or ban public readings of scripture from the Koran, Torah, or Bible, that would be a violation of basic First Amendment principles.”
Klar is a farmer, lawyer, former pastor, and 2022 GOP candidate for Vermont State Senate. As of this morning, only Klar had responded to a query posed to 12 Vermont pastors. He doesn’t dispute that a Legislature, not a court, is the pright lace to settle the issue of gay marriage. Although he argues that the current Supreme Court was unlikely to overturn a previous Supreme Court decision making gay marriage legal.
“The purported necessity to prevent judicial activism is silly and misplaced — just as Ruth Bader Ginsberg believed Roe v Wade was extremist because it legislated through the judiciary, so too some justices observed in Dobbs that gay marriage was not a social issue that should be determined by the Supreme Court,” Klar said. “Ironically, by enacting this law, Congress has acted consistently with those views — that the gay marriage decision should have been achieved legislatively rather than by judicial fiat.
“But the switcheroo on the religious liberty amendment concerns me, as does the silence by either Senator Welch or Sanders as to the importance of preserving basic religious liberty rights. If a majority of Americans support gay marriage, our Republic has now appropriately provided for that in the law. But if a majority wishes to demonize or inflict prejudicial retaliation against people of faith, or ban public readings of scripture from the Koran, Torah, or Bible, that would be a violation of basic First Amendment principles. It is not clear what Sanders and Welch opposed in the Lee Amendment, which was very clear in its protections of religious liberties. I pray we do not see an increase in hostility toward people of faith, and that the Respect of Marriage Act does not become a pathway to a Disrespect of Religious Freedoms.”
Both Leahy and Sanders voted for an earlier ‘religious liberty’ amendment that was opposed by the Alliance Defending Freedom and virtually all of the ‘social conservative’ senators. ADF, a legal advocacy organization, said the amendment sponsored by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) offered only ‘lip service’ to religious liberties, leaving individuals and organizations open to government restrictions and private action lawsuits.
The Senate version of H8404 must be reconciled with the original House version before it can be sent to President Joe Biden for his signature.
Pastor Todd Callahan of Ignite Church in Williston also weighed in on the ramifications of the Respect for Marriage bill, if it becomes law.
“I was speaking with our midweek service last night about the passing of this, and I do 100% believe they will eventually turn any opposition of gay marriage, lifestyles of homosexuality and transgerderism, into eventual hate speech, leading to fines or imprisonment,” Pastor Callahan said. “I think they will make a separation between free speech and hate speech as it relates to this and they are going to make another attempt to legislate morality through the guise of “hate speech”. I also think they will begin stripping 501c3 away from churches who do not marry homosexuals and approve of gay marriage, but who really cares anyway. Do it.
“I think we are going to have to greatly encourage pastors, Christians and spiritual leaders alike to push back and continue to preach the Gospel regardless of the persecution and backlash by government and culture,” Callahan said. “Some are about to really be tested on what they are willing to preach and there is a massive separation of Kingdom-minded churches and those who are feeble and weak coming because of this.”