Monday, November 10, 2008

More on Proposition 8

Jesus answered and said to them, "You are mistaken, not knowing the scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection men neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven."
-Mark 22:29-30

"Matrimony is outside church business. It is a governmental concern, hence up to the magistracy."
-Martin Luther, "The Babylonian Captivity of the Church"

I've decided to address claims that Proposition 8 supports religious freedom in America, since it actually does the exact opposite. Writing a particular group's religious ideas into secular law directly violates the Bill of Rights; and in the case of marriage laws, it also violates the teachings of Jesus himself as seen above.
Proposition 8's own language says that gay marriage shall be banned in the state of California. A ban, by definition, takes away freedom rather than expanding it. For in fact, many religious groups encourage and perform gay marriages as part of their custom.

One man and one woman is, in fact, not really the "traditional" definition of marriage at all. The word "marriage" has been applied to same-sex couples since the time of the Roman Empire.

The image to the right is from the Monastery of Saint Catherine, and depicts Christ presiding over the marriage of two men who were early Christian Saints. Indeed, same-sex marriages were common in the early church until they were banned by the emperor Constantine in 324. For almost 300 years of Christian history, the period closest to the life of Christ himself, gay couples were included in the traditional Christian definition of marriage.

For many years, the Society of Friends (Quakers) has performed same-sex marriages. Quakers have often appeared at the forefront of social change. Just as Quakers abolished slavery within their communities long before the Emancipation Proclamation, so have many Quaker meetings recognized committed gay relationships as marriages in advance of our nation's courts.

Likewise, the Metropolitan Community, All Saints, and Episcopal churches all advocate gay marriages as acceptable to God and perform them as part of their religious custom. How does Proposition 8 defend the religious freedom of these groups, as its supporters claim?

As I mentioned in the last post, Mormon and Roman Catholic groups contributed a combined $35.8 million in political lobbying to support Proposition 8. This money was not taxed, due to claims that the groups were using the money for "charity".

A partisan political campaign is not a charity. If the money in the collection plate is used to finance lobbying activity, then an organization is not really a "church" by the legal definition at all: it's a Political Action Committee with a steeple on the roof (they're not the only ones concerned about protecting the traditional definitions of things).

These groups lied to the IRS and the American people, claiming millions in tax-exemptions for charity while not actually performing any charitable work. They should have to pay taxes on this money, along with all relevant interest and penalties, so that this public money can be given to legitimate churches who are doing good work in the community for real.

No election is fair when one side has to pay taxes while the other doesn't. Simply putting the label "church" on a building doesn't make it a charity if political campaigning is going on inside.

You can help! US citizens can file a complaint with the IRS by clicking here. The form is simple, and can be filled out in just a couple minutes. 
This isn't about gay marriage, it's about tax fraud and falsely claiming that money was used for charity, which is downright despicable. Let's make sure that the next $35.8 million in tax-free money is used to do something that really helps people, not to buy more political TV ads.


iain said...

Beautifully expressed!

Anonymous said...

One of my ancestors founded the Society of Friends (the Quakers), and I should correct an error in your post. Never has the Society supported gay marriage, nor performed any marriages between two men or two women. Not one.

Hansisgreat said...

I recently attended a gay Quaker marriage here in my own town. It was lovely.