May 16, 2024

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The Established Religion of the (Dis)Respect for Marriage Act

The so-called Respect for Marriage Act, H. R. 8404, garnered Democrat and even some Republican support as it passed the US Senate by a vote of 61-36 and the US House by a vote of 258-169.

The Act is now signed into law by President Biden. This Act was advertised as an attempt to simply codify same-sex marriage into federal law, but it goes further than that. As noted by The Washington Stand,

The bill itself threatens, “The Attorney General may bring a civil action in the appropriate United States district court against any person who violates subsection (a) for declaratory and injunctive relief.” In other words, if you hold the belief that marriage is the union of a man and woman — the mainstream view for all of human history — and stand in the way of the Left’s redefinition in any way, the full weight of the Justice Department will be brought to bear. As if that weren’t enough, a private right of action — meaning everyday citizens can sue based on some perceived violation of their rights — is encouraged for anyone “harmed” by your biblical beliefs.

Religious Exceptions?

The language of the Act claims “no impact on religious liberty and conscience” in the Section 6 header. Section 6 of the Act explains,

Consistent with the First Amendment to the Constitution, nonprofit religious organizations, including churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, nondenominational ministries, interdenominational and ecumenical organizations, mission organizations, faith-based social agencies, religious educational institutions, and nonprofit entities whose principal purpose is the study, practice, or advancement of religion and any employee of such an organization, shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage.

The Act also incorporated a religious liberty amendment as it claims,

Nothing in this Act, or any amendment made by this Act, shall be construed to diminish or abrogate a religious liberty or conscience protection otherwise available to an individual or organization under the Constitution of the United States or Federal law.

On the surface, these clauses may sound like they grant sufficient religious liberty protections. However, as noted by The Washington Stand,

But religious liberty advocates note that nonprofits do not usually take part in the “celebration of a marriage.” And they have already faced discriminatory — and costly — litigation under current law since Obergefell v. Hodges. . . . Not only does the bill not recognize the religious rights of private businesspeople to refuse to participate in a ceremony they view as sinful, but it gives aggrieved activists a right of private action to sue Christian business owners. The bill, critics say, will force people who hold to the historical view of marriage as the lifelong union of one man and one woman to choose between living their faith or losing their business.

Religious liberty concerns abound. The Act’s religious liberty exceptions are arguably weak and seem to leave the door wide open for litigation against Bible-believing individuals and organizations. Now, in a nation that is supposed to guarantee free exercise of religion under the First Amendment, why does this Act have to include exceptions in the first place? In other words, why is religious freedom now the exception instead of the rule? Referencing the exception above for “churches, mosques, synagogues” etc., notice that the exception is for “religious” institutions and organizations. This Act presupposes neutrality—that the Act itself is not religious. Also, this Act presupposes that codifying same-sex marriage into federal law and threatening civil action against detractors does not violate the initial clause of the First Amendment of the US Constitution which states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. . . .” Both presuppositions are demonstrably false.

Religious Right?

The reality is that this is a very religious piece of legislation. This Act effectively establishes a religion regarding the moral subject of marriage: the religion of humanism.

The moral beliefs of the LGBTQ+ movement are consistent with the religion of humanism. The Human Rights Campaign, a very prominent LGBT organization, references the LGBTQ Humanist Council, a project of the American Humanist Association, as a go-to resource. The LGBTQ Humanist Council (recently disbanded) proclaimed that their purpose was to “articulate the values of the humanist philosophy and ethics across the country.” Likewise, the LGBT Humanists UK campaign states on their website that “for over 40 years LGBT Humanists has promoted humanism as a rational, naturalistic worldview.”

These statements are not at all surprising, given that those in the LGBT movement reject God’s definitions of marriage (Genesis 2:24Matthew 19:5) and gender (Genesis 1:27Matthew 19:4). Humanists altogether reject God’s Word and create their own standard of right and wrong. The Bristol Humanist Group claims that “moral values are properly founded on human nature and experience alone.” In other words, the religion of humanism defines right and wrong based on human opinion. As an aside, it’s important to note that when humanists presuppose the concept of right and wrong, they are borrowing a biblical presupposition that cannot be accounted for within their own evolutionary, materialistic worldview. With that said, both humanists and those within the LGBT movement appeal to the supposed authority of man’s opinion regarding sexual morality, which explains how the LGBT agenda and humanism fit together and why LGBT humanist organizations see the LGBT movement as an avenue to promote their religion.

Our own government considers humanism to be a religion for legal, constitutional purposes. The 1961 US Supreme Court decision, Torcaso v. Watkins, categorized “Secular Humanism” as a religion, and a US District Court ruled in the 2014 case American Humanist Association v. US that “secular Humanism is a religion for Establishment Clause purposes.” The moral beliefs of the LGBTQ+ movement are tenets of the religion of humanism, and yet that doesn’t stop our federal government from promoting and establishing this religion at the highest levels, whether it be through LGBT Pride Month (celebrated even by the Department of Defense) or this so-called Respect for Marriage Act.

No Neutrality

Contrary to what the 258 US Representatives, 61 US Senators, and President Biden might believe, this Act is not neutral, and there is no such thing as neutral with moral issues such as this. God the Son, Jesus, declares in Matthew 12:30, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” The so-called Respect for Marriage Act establishes the religion of humanism regarding the definition of marriage while granting arguably meager exceptions for Christianity and other religions that would disagree with the federal government’s definition of marriage.

God created marriage (Genesis 2:24), and the so-called Respect for Marriage Act certainly does not respect marriage, nor does it respect the one true God—the God of the Bible.

As Hebrews 10:31 says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Let’s be praying for our public servants (1 Timothy 2:1–4), that they turn away from their own sin and place their faith in the person and work of Jesus.

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