Monday, October 20, 2014

And so it begins...

(The Spokesman-Review) - The owners of the Hitching Post wedding chapel filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Coeur d’Alene Friday, claiming that the city is unconstitutionally forcing them to violate their religious beliefs by performing same-sex marriages.

Owners Donald and Evelyn Knapp say in the lawsuit that they believe marriage is a sacred covenant between a man and a woman.

“Performing same-sex wedding ceremonies would thus force the Knapps to condone, promote and even consecrate something forbidden by their religious beliefs and ordination vows,” the suit reads.

The city passed an ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in 2013. It applies to housing, employment and “public accommodation.” Religious entities are exempt from the ordinance. But in May city attorney Warren Wilson told The Spokesman-Review that The Hitching Post, which is a for-profit business, likely would be required to follow the ordinance.

According to the lawsuit, a man called the business Friday to ask about a same-sex wedding ceremony and was turned down. The Knapps are now asking for a temporary restraining order against the city to stop it from enforcing the ordinance. Violation of the ordinance is a misdemeanor punishable by fines and jail time.

“The Knapps are thus under a constant, coercive and substantial threat to violate their religious beliefs due to the risk that they will incur the penalties of jail time and criminal fines for declining to speak a message and perform a wedding service that contradicts their religious beliefs and ministerial vows,” the suit reads.

When reached by phone late Friday afternoon, Coeur d’Alene Mayor Steve Widmyer said he was not aware of the lawsuit and had no comment.

The city’s ordinance is a violation of the couple’s First and Fourteenth Amendment rights along with a violation of the Idaho Free Exercise of Religion Protected Act, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit was filed by Georgia and Arizona-based attorneys for Alliance Defending Freedom in partnership with Coeur d’Alene attorney Virginia McNulty Robinson. The group’s website defines ADF as a “legal ministry that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.”


  1. Why would a religious institution or church register as a for-profit business?

    1. The Hitching Post is a business that hosts weddings for a fee, it is not a church in any sense of the word. The owners are "ordained" by some protestant group.

    2. Fr. Matt,

      In this case, there is no excuse. However, I see the day coming when the Churches will be forced to do so, since they will lose their non-profit status due to "hate speech" in condemning gay marriage, homosexual acts, etc.

      The plan, it appears, is to get the Churches to scoff at (and thereby tacitly agree with the government against) those businesses such as this one, because they are "for profit", and then (and this part is already underway) to force the Churches into this same spot by stripping their non-profit status. But they will have already tacitly agreed that it's OK to force for-profit businesses to perform these heinous ceremonies, and so will be either a) left having to agree that the government can force the (now for-profit) Churches to do them, too, or b) pilloried as hypocrites (yet again) in the popular imagination.

      This will have several effects: 1) some "churches" (even some Orthodox Churches, I suspect, although I pray not) will capitulate to avoid b).

      2) The churches that do not capitulate will lose many members and inquirers, but those who remain, and those who continue to inquire, will receive the blessing of faithfulness from God.

      In the long run, I believe this is part of the Great Delusion that is coming, but that this gives us great hope, as that time is also a time of purification and glory for the elect.


  2. seen elsewherre:

    I live about 12 miles from where this so-called "news story" took place, and am the legal adviser for the Parish Council of the closest Orthodox Church nearest to this so-called "event."

    To put it mildly, what has occurred here is a contrived publicity stunt. Nobody has been "ordered" to perform same sex marriages and nobody is "facing fines and jail time." No complaints have been filed, and none will be. Religious organizations are specifically exempt from compliance with the Coeur d'Alene city ordinance. The "Hitching Post" is a for-profit business pure and simple. It is registered as a Limited Liability Company with the State of Idaho, and the "ordained minister" received his "credentials" through a mail-order outlet. He has about as much business calling himself a "minister" as my dog does. A Judge working for the State of Idaho must perform gay marriages if requested. This for-profit business should be forced to do so as well. Business models that sometime feature Elvis Impersonators are not Churches entitled to any protection under the law.

    Furthermore, my church rents out its Assembly Hall and this bruhaha became a matter of instant concern. However, as Orthodoxy is a REAL CHURCH and not a gossamer religious feeling possessed by a mail-order Elvis Impersonator; we merely inserted the US Orthodox Bishop's public statement (which cited a thing called binding "Canon Law") reiterating its longstanding (2,000 years or so) opposition to same sex weddings and called it a day.

    Now that we have those misunderstandings corrected, lets get right to the nub of this so-called "issue:" Every State and every city that has passed anti-discrimination laws banning discrimination against Gays has specifically exempted churches and religious organizations from compliance. The ACLU will represent any church or religious organization that runs afoul of such statutes. REAL churches (like Orthodoxy), versus the so-called "mega-churches;" "para-churches;" and "religious-oriented businesses" that are raising the fuss about these laws - demonstrates the real problem here. Protestantism has provoked a fractured, watered down and ill-defined quasi-Christianity that defies classification. Anybody can be a Protestant minister just by saying that they are one. Elvis impersonators that run Drive-Through Wedding businesses are Protestant ministers too!

    In my opinion, Protestantism caused a self-inflicted mortal wound to itself and smeared legitimate Christianity in the process when John Calvin and Martin Luther watered down the Christian sacraments into meaninglessness, and "replaced" them with sola scriptura. Since the Eucharist, Holy Unction and Baptism are all purely symbolic according to Protestantism, why is marriage suddenly a matter of furrowed brows? Why isn't marriage purely-symbolic as well? Since prepackaged "Communion Product" can be thrown like parade candy by a "minister" dressed like a Circus Clown to the beat of Hip Hop "Christian Rock," it seems logical that marriage has no more intrinsic seriousness. Would somebody please tell me why the Hitching Post should not be forced to perform gay marriages, when ALL of the mainstream Protestant Churches are more than happy to do so? And so Protestantism continues to circle the drain in its irreversible death spiral, with a few yelps now and then when somebody notices that they have become a social services agency and social club rather than the Body of Christ.,61755.0.html

    1. Yes. The Protestants are in error. So are the Catholics and the Copts by the way, just not as much. But that's quite beside the point. If, say, an Orthodox Christian owns for-profit banquet facilities, he should be free to do business with whom he pleases. Your property, your rules. Don't like it, hold your gay "weddings" at mike's house. Reception to follow.

      It's odd to see an Orthodox sneer at protestantism as hokey and contrived while simultaneously deeming these homosexual farces as entitled to a positive right to require people to do business with them just because some uber-SWPL locality wants to burnish its progressive credentials.

      The American secular creed appears in the end to be the final authority. This is the scenario that supports an argument for an official Church. It's also why Orthodoxy is incompatible (I'll stop short of saying "completely") with the American proposition.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I think we easily assume too much when we believe protection will be afforded to us merely because of the cloak of "true" religion in this instance. Basically, if a private business (and what else can possibly be construed from a church renting their hall to anyone for money other than a business transaction??) can be compelled by the State to act in one way and not another, then we too will likely face State compulsion as well. I mean, really, first it will be loss of licenses (and revenue) to publicly rent halls and then it will be the loss of licensing for ministers to perform state recognized marriages. At this point, it would be foolish to panic, but equally foolish is to stick our noses in the air and pretend like this couldn't or won't have future consequences.

    ...I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.