Keep in mind as you read the article and my commentary that we are talking about a nation that already has gay "marriage" as a civil fact. And that gay-rights advocates in this country, where we mostly don't have gay "marriage" (yet), repeatedly assure their opponents in public that gay "marriage" won't require the church to do anything.
Six months after gay marriages were legalised, at least four leading denominations are refusing to conduct same-sex unions.In execution, there is little wrong with the story on journalistic matters: editorializing language is avoided, both sides are adequately covered, the article doesn't "lead with the reaction" (in this case, something like: "Gay rights supporters are critical of the six churches that do not perform gay marriages...").
The national leadership of the Anglican Church, as well as the provincial offices of the Catholic Church, Baptist Church and Presbyterian Church, all confirmed their clergy were not allowed to officiate at or bless gay marriages.
The Methodist Church - which has been embroiled in a row with 19 of its ministers over whether to conduct civil unions - has an interim policy that prohibits gay marriages in its churches.
According to the Civil Union Act, if a religious institution does not wish to conduct civil unions, it must submit a letter to Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula explaining why.
But what I find interesting is the fact that the story exists at all. If the "churches don't have to act contrary to their teachings" provision and its implicit privatization of religious marriage was the spoonful of sugar that made the medicine of secular gay-"marriage" go down, what is the matter of public interest now for the Cape Argus newspaper on this matter. Shouldn't that "trade" have ended public debate, as the Massachusetts poo-bahs say they want "and end to this debate"? The newspaper indicates by its coverage decision that it sees gay "marriage" laws are simply one front in a war and that it opened up new fronts, i.e., questioning which churches won't perform gay "marriages" and why. Like the new black, this new front then becomes the hot topic, the next frontier of gay-rights activism.
The homosexual activists quoted at the end makes it quite clear that they don't intend for this law to be the end.
South Africa's largest activist group for gay and lesbian rights, the Triangle Project, said it was aware of the stance many churches had taken on same-sex unions.So much to unpack. So little time.
On the eve of the International Day against Homophobia today, spokesman Vista Kalipa said the group had received a number of calls from disappointed couples who had resorted to marrying at Home Affairs after they were turned away by their churches.
"Technically, religious institutions do have the right not to conduct civil unions," he said.
But the stance of the churches against homosexuality went back "a long way".
"It's not just a gay rights issue any more, it has become a human rights issue," he said.
HRC head Jody Kollapen said the government and churches should consider allowing individual ministers to register under the Civil Union Act.
"That way, people have the option of marrying in association with their religious institution."
First of all, I love the use of "technically," as though the Triangle Project views the free exercise of religion like Archie Bunker or Dirty Harry view Miranda rights. This was not some obscure subpoint. Whether and how to exempt churches has been a major feature, if not at the very center, of every debate about gay-rights legislation. The provision was written into South Africa's gay "marriage" law pursuant to that discussion, along with procedures ("must submit a letter to Home Affairs Minister") to implement it. Calling it a "technicality" bespeaks a certain ... unwillingness to see the church exemption as an important part of the gay "marriage" law South Africa passed. And realize that granting civil gay "marriage" will not "end this debate."
Second, look at how the spokesman says that gay marriage is now NOT a matter of gay rights, but of "human rights." But "human rights" is a term of the art in international law, and one that binds all nations. If not allowing gay marriage is a violation of "human rights," there could be at least a prima facie cause for action against a country or its laws under international law. And once a case can get heard, it's very much a matter of getting the right judge (which one can shop for, and thus always find, under new theories of international law such as universal jurisdiction). The World Court ordering the US to redefine marriage is probably unlikely, but would in principle become possible.
Third, as a matter of both domestic legal precedent and the realities of current US political culture, if something is a human right, then the church cannot deny it to an individual. In some cases, as a legal matter (Christian Scientists and child medical care, say), and in all cases as a matter of support in public opinion. A religious doctrine that is constructed in the public eye as a human-rights violation, as something really wrong ... will be swept aside. I made roughly this point before:
The US isn't quite this "advanced," but this sort of law, trampling on how the Church can conduct its business, augurs what is to come, because it is very much the result of the internal logic of the normalization of homosexuality and gay non-discrimination laws. If the view that homosexual acts are immoral and ought not to be encouraged or normalized (i.e., the teaching of the Church, and the entire Christian tradition until the day before yesterday) is some kind of irrational prejudice analogous to racism, then these kinds of laws are, in fact, good and should pass. Calling racism a religion does not hold up under current law and social praxis, and there is no reason to think "homophobia" will either.Someone saying that churches not performing gay "marriages" is really a "human-rights" matter is, intentionally or not, doing the spadework for stripping religions of their doctrinal freedom, right to preach, the whole panoply of what rubes call "free exercise of religion." As with Christian Science and child-abuse laws.
Fourth, consider Kollapen's suggestion that one way to "solve" this "problem" of people not being able to marry in the
Fifth, I simply do not give a rat's petootie about people wanting "the option of marrying in association with their religious institution" or "disappointed couples who had resorted to marrying at Home Affairs." Not if those people don't want to live according to the church's rules, one of which is "no marrying the same sex." Why do they care about having the blessing of "their religious institution," if they're so unwilling to live according to its precepts? What is the point of a church in the first place, if it can never say "no"? At some point (we can debate where that point is; but its existence in fact we cannot), you must decide whether your loyalty is to God/gods/Buddha/whatever or to your lifestyle.
If you are not willing to even try to change your lifestyle, then your religion matters so little to you that not having the option of marrying within it (not "not having the option of marrying at all") can be of no great import to you. And if changing your lifestyle constitutes an unreasonable demand in itself from the church, then your lifestyle is what you worship anyway and it's better to be open about that than live a lie. If you want to live the gay lifestyle ... go do so. At some level, I can't stop you in this life, and it'll be in God's hands after that. But don't go pissing in other people's pools (as baptismal fonts, as the case might be). Camille Paglia has long complained about gay groups that try to change Church teaching, dismissing them for what they are -- cowards* who want parental approval.** Be the freethinker you imagine yourself as. Leave the Church.
* "The bisexual ex-Catholic said that she didn't understand why gays didn't have the courage -- her word -- to leave the Catholic Church. She believes the Catholic Church, which she has rejected, should not be expected to change its teachings to suit gays, or anybody else."
** "The [Presbyterian] report is so eager to ignore away the inconvenient facts of Christian morality about sex that one has to ask the committee members, Why remain Christian at all? Why not leave Judeo-Christianity for our other great Western tradition, the Greco-Roman, in which philosophic discourse about ethics is possible without reference to a transcendental deity? As a lapsed Catholic of wavering sexual orientation, I have never understood the pressure for ordination of gay clergy or even the creation of gay Catholic groups. They seem to me to indicate a need for parental approval, an inability to take personal responsibility for one's own identity.