Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Follow-up on the Church and NC Marriage Amendment

As I feared, the church that I passed by on my way to the local library yesterday is running a petition campaign to support an amendment to the NC Constitution to define marriage as ONLY between one man and one woman. This is coded language that should read that they are promoting an amendment to deny gay and lesbian citizens equal rights under the law in the state of North Carolina. Our lawmakers have already voted down the amendment in the past because it is redundant to an existing law that also defines marriage in the same manner.

I attempted to drop by to investigate this petition, but I found the church doors were locked, so I phoned Peace Baptist Church at 320 Military Cutoff in Wilmington instead. The secretary told me that this petition was not political, but was religious in nature and that several churches are promoting a drive to gather signatures even though the initiative is not a National or Southern Baptist Church affiliated project.

It seems to me that there is a very thin line between supporting a change to the state constitution by a church and the violation of church and state separation laws. What do you think? Is this church going beyond its boundaries by providing a space for people on the street who are not even necessarily church members to drop in and sign a petition to promote a new law?

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6 Comments:

Blogger Nelson Clemente said...

Yes...

-Nel

1/26/2006 09:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate this. I hate this with every fiber of my being, and just thinking of it makes me livid. But if a social organization wants to try to affect the government in such a way as to serve what it believes in...how can we stop it? As far as I know, and please correct me if I'm wrong, the only real law about seperation of church and state comes from the first amendment of the US constitution and it says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..." which to me seems to be almost protecting the church..which probably makes sense given the circumstances under which it was written. I know the supreme court made up a bunch of tests to determine if a law is unconstitutional, but our money says "in god we trust" on it...Jefferson wanted a "Strict Wall of seperation" but never got it. I think society is pretty screwed because of it. Others disagree.
I really despise the church as an establishment. I used to be downright iconoclastic. But I have noticed that there are decently ok benefits, and a lot of people need what I percieve to be their delusions as a crutch to stay sane. Granted, I think this is probably a bad thing for society, but this mechanism of control would just be replaced by something a little more orwellian if organized right wing religion didn't exist to fill that void.
-Jonathan

1/29/2006 11:04:00 PM  
Blogger Ron Hudson said...

Hey Jonathan,

You are right about the separation of church and state,per se, but ther are also laws about the tax exempt status of churches that prohibit them from political action. I am not sure of the details either, but I suspect that housing a petition and inviting any non-church member off the street to sign it constitutes a violation.

1/31/2006 02:20:00 PM  
Blogger Ron Hudson said...

After several phone calls, I found out that churches are free to do anything they like short of endorsing a candidate in an election and they can keep their tax-exempt status. As such, Peace Baptist Church in Wilmington is within the existing law. Maybe we should work to change the law now.

2/03/2006 05:43:00 PM  
Blogger Justin Thibault said...

501(c)(3) organizations such as churches cannot involve themselves in electoral poltics; but it happens all of the time. As was well-reported in the 2004 election, Republicans depend on evangelical churches to turn out the vote. However, Democrats depend on churches with majority African-American attendance to do the same. So, there are two sides to that coin.

Churches lead the way on abolition, civil rights, and are one of the few places that people regularly meet every week. Attempting to take away their first-amendment right to speech, assembly, and petitioning the government does not help in engaging in a helpful discussion of issues.

2/05/2006 07:41:00 PM  
Blogger Ron Hudson said...

I wasn't advocating removal of their freedom of speech, only their tax-exempt status if they had, by chance, gone too far in advocating a law that actually does take away from any one's ability to self expression through marriage choice. There is a big difference between advocating for inclusion and promoting exclusion.

2/06/2006 04:45:00 PM  

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