Should Religion Decide? – Colorado Church Leaders Speak Out on Gay Marriage and Amendment 43

         

-by Lys Anzia / Nov. 6, 2006

“Gay and lesbian people have families, and their families should have legal protection, whether by marriage or civil union,” said Coretta Scott King at a lecture in 2004 at Richard Stockton Collage.

Today same-sex families are bracing themselves against the legal affects of Colorado Amendment 43.

No one could have said it better than the wife of the most famous leader of Civil Rights in America. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. began his public life as a 1948 pastor of a small community church in the South, the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia.

“Constitutional amendments should be used to expand freedom, not restrict it,” says Mrs. King.

In 1957, meeting at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, King was elected president of the SCLC – the Southern Christian Leadership Conference by 60+ black ministers from areas covering eight states.

In 1948 the Supreme Court of California was the first state to pass another important civil right for the Black community in America. This is when the ban on interracial marriage was deemed unconstitutional in the state.

South Carolina only lifted its ban on interracial marriage in 1998.

In the unbelievably late year, the state of South Carolina finally removed the words, “marriage of a white person with a Negro or mulatto or a person who shall have one-eighth or more of Negro blood.” from the South Carolina state constitution.

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools,” said Rev. King.

It seems today many more people are beginning to agree. Now more than ever.

A very recent AngusReid report just announced that, “More adults in the United States believe gay and lesbian partnerships should be officially acknowledged, according to a recent poll by the New York Times and CBS News.”

A large number of current religious leaders agree too. Tolerance toward same-sex marriage, including gays, lesbians and their families, is definitely on the rise.

Church organizations such as the Alliance of Baptists; American Friends Service Committee (Quaker); American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League; Central Conference of American Rabbis; Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Christians for Justice Action; Disciples Justice Action Network (Disciples of Christ); Episcopal Church, USA; Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quaker); Guru Gobind Singh Foundation (Sikh); Jewish Reconstructionist Federation; Loretto Women’s Network, (LWN) (Catholic Order); Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; National Conference for Community and Justice; National Council of Jewish Women; National Sikh Center; Metropolitan Community Churches; Presbyterian Church (USA), Washington Office; Protestant Justice Action; Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE); The Interfaith Alliance; Union for Reform Judaism; Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations; United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries; and Women of Reform Judaism are all in favor of same-sex marriage.

“We cannot tolerate discrimination being written into the Constitution. So, for those people who want to protect marriage, let me offer a few suggestions,” says Rev. Weldon Gaddy, a Monroe, Louisiana Baptist Minister, Leader of the AWA-Baptist Association and President of the Interfaith Alliance Foundation. The Interfaith Alliance Foundation hails over 185,000 members drawn from 75 different religions and faiths.

On Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network we have a very different story.

“Many of those people involved with Adolph Hitler were Satanists, many of them were homosexuals–the two things seem to go together,” said Robertson in 1993.

“Homosexuality is Satan’s diabolical attack upon the family that will not only have a corrupting influence upon our next generation, but it will also bring down the wrath of God upon America,” says Jerry Falwell.

“We are at a crisis point in this nation. What will happen on November 7 will have profound implications for the future of our country,” said James Dobson recently.

“The things that threaten marriage have nothing to do with gay people,” says said Rev. Phil Campbell, Director of Ministries of the Iliff School of Divinity in Denver. “The divorce rate is alarmingly high but gays have nothing to do with this.”

 “If you believe in marriage for heterosexual couples, then work to strengthen these marriages. Focus on the issues at hand and stop changing the subject. Love and commitment make marriages strong not scapegoating gay Coloradans,” adds Campbell.

                                                                                                © photo fran monks 2006 

The petition for Colorado Amendment 43 was originally planned and promoted by Coloradans for Marriage, a religious consortium largely in league with numerous local and national right-wing Christian organizations. James Dobson’s and Focus on the Family “Citizen Link” plays a major part. Former Rev. Ted Haggard and the National Association of Evangelicals representing 714 churches in Colorado, plays another.

Now on the eve of the 2006 election questions about the real issues of Colorado Amendment 43 are being thrown around heavily.

Not only are issues of marriage on the plate but also issues of changing the sovereignty of the Colorado Bill of Rights and its constitution.

Bertrand Russell wisely said over fifty years ago, “Few people can be happy unless they hate some other person, nation, or creed.

“All committed couples deserve equal protection and recognition under the law,” says Jeremy Shaver, director of Education and Family Ministries at Christ Congregational Church in southwest Denver.

“Gay and lesbian couples can be loving, caring, effective parents and deserve access to the same legal protections for their families that other families have.”

Adds Shaver, “God is less concerned about the relative gender of our spouses than God is about whether we are living in just, mutual, caring, and compassionate relationships. Even if you believe marriage should be between one man and one woman, don’t you agree that we must keep the government out of a sacred institution such as marriage?”

Rev. Phil Campbell, Director of Ministries at Iliff School of Divinity in Denver agrees.

“Two weeks ago I spoke against amendment 43 at a Colorado Social Legislation Committee/League of Women voters sponsored forum,” says Rev. Phil.

“After I finished a women asked to speak with me privately. She told me of her distress to learn that I was a Christian minister who, in her words, condoned abomination. Our ensuing conversation could be described as a spirited but civil exchange.”

“As we were about to depart,” continued Campbell. “Having acknowledged that we each held religious views very different from the other, I asked her a final question.”

“I told her that although I disagreed with her, I supported her right to her views, but what I wanted to know was why she believed her religious view of marriage should be enshrined in our state’s constitution.”

“I have to admit I wasn’t prepared for her answer,” said Rev. Campbell.

“She said, Oh, I don’t think my views should be in the constitution. I believe in the separation of church and state. I’m going to vote no on 43,”

“Whether your religious and ethical values regarding marriage align with mine,” says Campbell on his last words, “I urge you to join us in the civic virtue of rejecting this unnecessary and discriminatory amendment that has no place in our constitution.”

__________________________________________

Sources for this article include People for the American Way, National Park Service – Atlanta, Stanford Martin Luther King Jr. Research Center, USA today, Harvard Law Bulletin, National Association of Evangelicals, Associated Press, AngusReid Reports, ACLU media, CNN News, Rocky Mt. News, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Denver Post, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Focus on the Family – Citizen’s Link

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Other Churches in Colorado Currently Supporting Same-sex Marriage –

Spirit of Christ Catholic Community / Arvada – Catholic

Arvada Mennonite Church / Arvada – Mennonite

Spirit of Joy Fellowship / Arvada -Mennonite

Arvada UMC / Arvada -UMC

Mountain View Community Church / Aurora -UCC, UMC, Presbyterian

Parkview Congregational UCC / Aurora -UCC

The United Church of Broomfield UCC / Broomfield -UCC

St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish / Boulder -Catholic

First Christian Church / Boulder -Disciples of Christ

St. John’s Episcopal Church / Boulder -Episcopal

LCM/Colorado University / Boulder -Lutheran

Mount Calvary Lutheran Church / Boulder -Lutheran

Boulder Mennonite Church / Boulder -Mennonite

Presbyterian Church of the Apostles / Boulder -Presbyterian

Community UCC / Boulder -UCC

First Congregational / Boulder -UCC

First UMC / Boulder -UMC

Dignity/Southern Colorado / Colorado Springs -Catholic

Dignity/Hartford / Colorado Springs -Catholic

Pike’s Peak MCC / Colorado Springs -MCC

First Congregational Church / Colorado Springs -UCC

Vista Grande Community Church / Colorado Springs -UCC

Union Congregational Church / Crested Butte -UCC

Good Shepherd of the Hills / Denver -American Orthodox Catholic

St. Patrick’s Missionary Outreach / Denver -American Orthodox Catholic

Dignity/Denver / Denver -Catholic, Dignity

St. Dominic’s / Denver -Catholic

Fireside Christian Church / Denver -Disciples of Christ

St. Andrew’s / Denver -Episcopal

St. Barnabas / Denver -Episcopal

St. John’s Cathedral / Denver -Episcopal

St. Thomas / Denver -Episcopal

Integrity Colorado / Denver -Episcopal

Epiphany Lutheran Church / Denver -Lutheran

Our Savior’s Lutheran Church / Denver -Lutheran

St. Paul Lutheran Church / Denver -Lutheran

Urban Servant Corps / Denver -Lutheran

MCC of the Rockies / Denver -MCC

Spirit of Joy Fellowship / Denver -Mennonite

Open Door Community Church / Denver -Non denominational

Capital Heights Presbyterian Church / Denver -Presbyterian

Montview Presbyterian / Denver -Presbyterian

Berkeley Community Church / Denver -UCC

Christ Congregational Church / Denver -UCC

Park Hill Congregational / Denver -UCC

Sixth Avenue United / Denver -UCC

Washington Park UCC / Denver -UCC

Park Hill United Methodist Church / Denver -UMC

St. Paul’s UMC / Denver -UMC

Warren UMC / Denver -UMC

Wesley Foundation / University of Denver -UMC

Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church / Dillon -Lutheran

First Plymouth Congregational Church / Englewood -UCC

Wild Rose / Evergreen -UCC

Integrity Fort Collins / Fort Collins -Episcopal

Lutheran Campus Ministry at Colorado State University / Fort Collins -Lutheran

St. Thomas Lutheran Chapel / Fort Collins -Lutheran

MCC Family in Christ / Fort Collins -MCC

Fort Collins Mennonite Fellowship / Fort Collins -Mennonite

Plymouth Congregational UCC / Fort Collins -UCC

Koinonia Church / Grand Junction Baptist -Mennonite

First Congregational Church / Grand Junction -UCC

Lutheran Campus Ministry, Univ. of Colorado / Greeley -Lutheran

Family of Christ Presbyterian Church / Greeley -Presbyterian

First Congregational Church / Greeley -UCC

Gunnison Congregational UCC / Gunnison -UCC

Christ Chapel of the Rockies / Lakewood -Alliance of Christian Churches

Lakewood UCC / Lakewood -UCC

Green Mountain United Methodist Church / Lakewood -UMC

Littleton Columbine United Church, UCC  / Littleton -UCC

Westview Presbyterian / Longmont -Presbyterian

First Congregational / Longmont -UCC

Hillcrest Congregational / Montrose -UCC

Northglenn United Church of Christ / Northglenn -UCC

Christ Church of Southern Colorado / Pueblo -Alliance of Christian Churches

MCC of Pueblo / Pueblo -MCC

Christ Congregational / Pueblo -UCC

Christ Presbyterian / Telluride -Presbyterian

Wheat Ridge Congregation / Wheat Ridge -UCC

 

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4 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. cd5_observer says:

    .
    To be a part of the Roman Catholic Church, a parish must be part of a diocese, which is headed by a Bishop.  Each Catholic Bishop takes an oath of obedience to the Holy See in Rome.  A Bishop can disobey; some occasionally do.  But when a Bishiop disobeys, for example, to marry, they lose their position as Bishop. 

    The Catholic Churches in Colorado all come under one of 3 Bishops, Chaput, Sheridan or Tafoya.  On the issue of gay marriage, I know that all three of these men follow the teaching from Rome. 

    In the cases of the St. Dominic’s Novitiate, St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish in Boulder, and Spirit of Christ in Arvada, it is simply false, a slander, to say that these Catholic communities support same-sex marriage.  If these communities were to come out in support of same-sex marriage, they would not be Catholic.  If this happened, the Bishop would discipline and replace the priest, if one was involved, and correct the teaching.  This sort of teaching that is contrary to Catholic doctrine is called a “heresy.”  Heretics are forced out of the Church if they will not repent and accept doctrine. 

    I’m not that knowledgeable about other Christian denominations, but in the Catholic Church, it really is Jesus’ Way or the highway.  And, to be an authentic Catholic, one must accept that the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (a group in the Vatican) is the earthly arbiter of the teachings of Jesus and how they apply in our lives today. 

    Don’t get me wrong: people don’t have to accept Catholic doctrine to be Christians; they only have to accept it if they want to be Catholics.  That’s what distinguishes a Catholic from other Christians. 

    Which brings us to those Dignity groups.  These are groups of well-intentioned people who want to consider themselves Catholic, but cannot accept the CCD teaching on gay marriage.  They are perfectly within their rights to pick and choose what doctrinal teachings to accept and which to reject.  Free will is one of God’s greatest gifts.  It’s just that, if they reject a particular doctrine, in this case the one on gay marriage, then they really aren’t Catholic.  Even if they have not been formally excommunicated, they are not authentic Catholics.  They reject the teaching and authority of their Bishop and of the CCD and of the Pope.  This is not the same as being in a state of sin, where a person accepts authority and teaching and simply violates it.  By rejecting the doctrine, they reject Catholicism. 

    I’ll bet you these Dignity groups would look like pretty mainstream Christians if they would affiliate with one of the non-Catholic congregations higher up in your post.  They just aren’t Catholic.  That’s the same with pro-Choice and pro-women priest and pro-married priest former Catholics.  Bottom line, they reject the authority of the Church to decide such things for them; they think they ought to be able to decide for themselves which teachings to accept and which to reject.  And they have that right, so long as they aren’t Catholic, which requires submission to that authority.  They can’t have it both ways.

    Note that there are authentic Catholics working within the system who are trying to get the doctrine in these areas changed.  They accept the teaching, even though they disagree with it. 

    • Aaron says:

      It’s that “my way or the highway” attitude that has destroyed church attendance for Catholics in this country. I know some Catholics who don’t believe or follow every thing the pope or bible says, word for word, but they still consider themselves to be Catholics.

      Guess what? You don’t get to kick them out of the club for not believing everything you do.

      Meh, what do I know. I think all of Christianity is ridiculous.

    • Kevin Jones says:

      “the cases of the St. Dominic’s Novitiate, St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish in Boulder, and Spirit of Christ in Arvada, it is simply false, a slander, to say that these Catholic communities support same-sex marriage.”

      I am a parishoner at Spirit of Christ, and I want to second your remarks. 

      What happened at my parish was that a group of parish insiders published in the bulletin some pro-homosexual talking points. 

      They have since been corrected, and they have forced even more work on the poor pastor by making him have to review the bulletin, lest it by co-opted by double-faced activists who want to subvert Catholicism using Catholic parish funds.

      Where did this list come from?  It smells like a co-ordinated effort at subversion, such smells make me feel like hunting heretics.

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