Everyone wants religious freedom — at least for one’s own faith. The Pilgrims fled England for the Netherlands seeking it, for even in the early seventeenth century Amsterdam was known as a city of culture and religious tolerance.
Too much so for leader William Bradford who found “many of their children, by these occasions, and the great licentiousness of youth in that country and the manifold temptations of the place, were drawn away by evil examples into extravagant and dangerous courses.”
Packing his followers aboard the Mayflower, Bradford landed here in 1620. Religious freedom? In 1660, Mary Dyer was hanged on the Boston Common for her Quaker faith. As the United States came into being, founders drafted documents protecting the citizens’ right to worship, stipulating freedom of and from religion, and separation of church and state.
Today many hunger for a theocracy, limiting others’ religious freedom, trampling the civil rights of women, people of color, non-theists, and GLBT citizens. Oklahoma State Representative Todd Russ says House Bill 1125 will “take the state out of the process and leave marriage in the hands of the clergy,” adding, “Under my bill, the state is not allowing or disallowing same-sex marriage. It is simply leaving it up to the clergy.” However, the bill limits marriage to “people of faith.”
State employees won’t have to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and atheists are rendered second-class. Russ says of them: “They don’t have a spiritual basis for a marriage and don’t want to have a clergy member or a priest or someone involved in the spiritual aspect, then they can file an affidavit of common-law marriage.”
But as happens in hasty, ill-considered moves, there are loopholes and finagles. “Clergy?” Corporate trainer Paula Scheider of Tulsa was ordained by the Church of the Latter-Day Dude (inspired by The Big Lebowski) and has to date performed eight marriages. And there exist many gay clergy, even, I would hazard, in Oklahoma.
Just one example of many ludicrous attempts mushrooming throughout the country, all fuelled by fearful, hate-filled, power-hungry instigators. (Check also California attorney Matt McLaughlin; he paid $200 to submit his ballot initiative, “Sodomite Suppression Act,” proposing to kill all gays.)
Ludicrous, yes, but dangerous, and they cannot be dismissed.