Georgia House Speaker David Ralston has announced his intent to file legislation for a “pastor protection act” later this year when the legislature is in session.
The pastor protection act will:
a) provide security for pastors against forced termination
b) legislate civil protections for pastors against obstreperous deacons
c) cause the state to pay for all pastor’s health insurance premiums
d) protect pastors from being forced at gunpoint to perform weddings they don’t want to perform
The answer is, of course, “d”, although some pastors already perform weddings they don’t want to perform as a result of the icy glare of a powerful matriarch in their church…but you get the idea. The business about “at gunpoint” merely dramatizes the states ultimate power to coerce citizens into doing it’s bidding.
The working version of the proposed bill reads:
“No minister of the gospel or cleric or religious practitioner ordained or authorized to solemnize marriages according to the usages of the denomination, when acting in his or her official religious capacity, shall be required to solemnize any marriage in violation of his or her right to free exercise of religion.”
Critics say this is grandstanding, the First Amendment already provides such protections.
I am unaware of any minister who has been forced by the state to perform any wedding, not a single one. If you know of one I’d like to be better informed.
At what point does one have a surfeit of information, articles, and news resulting from the court’s recent approval of same sex marriage? Probably past that point for me personally but the new legal reality on SSM promises to generate almost an endless stream of such things. The legal battlefield seems to be employment law, public accommodations, non-clergy individuals, and commercial service providers who discriminate in baking cakes, taking photographs, and arranging flowers for SSM weddings.
Georgia will have the debate, again, that revolves around the business of religious freedom protection (as named by one side) or license to discriminate (as described by the other side).
We all know that there is a steady stream of ministers, including plenty of Baptists, who are fully prepared to do SSM weddings. Not me, but thanks for thinking about me, Mr. Ralston. I’d rather the state find a way to pay my health insurance.