New America: Ordained ministers threatened with jail unless they perform same sex marriages

City officials in Coeur d'Alene Idaho have told a married couple who are both ordained ministers that they will go to jail if they refuse to perform wedding ceremonies for gay couples.

The Alliance for Defending Freedom has filed suit against the city and asked for a temporary restraining order to prevent officials from carrying out their threat.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a federal lawsuit and a motion for a temporary restraining order Friday to stop officials in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, from forcing two ordained Christian ministers to perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples.

City officials told Donald Knapp that he and his wife Evelyn, both ordained ministers who run Hitching Post Wedding Chapel, are required to perform such ceremonies or face months in jail and/or thousands of dollars in fines. The city claims its “non-discrimination” ordinance requires the Knapps to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies now that the courts have overridden Idaho’s voter-approved constitutional amendment that affirmed marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

“The government should not force ordained ministers to act contrary to their faith under threat of jail time and criminal fines,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “Many have denied that pastors would ever be forced to perform ceremonies that are completely at odds with their faith, but that’s what is happening here – and it’s happened this quickly. The city is on seriously flawed legal ground, and our lawsuit intends to ensure that this couple’s freedom to adhere to their own faith as pastors is protected just as the First Amendment intended.”

The couple would face 180 days in jail and up to $1000 in fines per day if they dared to adhere to their religious beliefs.

“The city somehow expects ordained pastors to flip a switch and turn off all faithfulness to their God and their vows,” explained ADF Legal Counsel Jonathan Scruggs. “The U.S. Constitution as well as federal and state law clearly stand against that. The city cannot mandate across-the-board conformity to its interpretation of a city ordinance in utter disregard for the guaranteed freedoms Americans treasure in our society.”

How many other towns and cities have statutes like this? No doubt there are other budding fascists out there who would enjoy putting Christian ministers in jail for not violating the sacred tenets of their faith.

This is a law that manifestly violates the Constitution so I wouldn't expect any court in America to uphold the city statutue. But the fact that it was passed in the first place should raise the alarm that the assault on religious liberty has entered a new phase. The power of government is being used in the contraceptive controversey and now the gay marriage issue to force acceptance of practices totally at odds with the religious faith of millions of people.

City officials in Coeur d'Alene Idaho have told a married couple who are both ordained ministers that they will go to jail if they refuse to perform wedding ceremonies for gay couples.

The Alliance for Defending Freedom has filed suit against the city and asked for a temporary restraining order to prevent officials from carrying out their threat.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a federal lawsuit and a motion for a temporary restraining order Friday to stop officials in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, from forcing two ordained Christian ministers to perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples.

City officials told Donald Knapp that he and his wife Evelyn, both ordained ministers who run Hitching Post Wedding Chapel, are required to perform such ceremonies or face months in jail and/or thousands of dollars in fines. The city claims its “non-discrimination” ordinance requires the Knapps to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies now that the courts have overridden Idaho’s voter-approved constitutional amendment that affirmed marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

“The government should not force ordained ministers to act contrary to their faith under threat of jail time and criminal fines,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “Many have denied that pastors would ever be forced to perform ceremonies that are completely at odds with their faith, but that’s what is happening here – and it’s happened this quickly. The city is on seriously flawed legal ground, and our lawsuit intends to ensure that this couple’s freedom to adhere to their own faith as pastors is protected just as the First Amendment intended.”

The couple would face 180 days in jail and up to $1000 in fines per day if they dared to adhere to their religious beliefs.

“The city somehow expects ordained pastors to flip a switch and turn off all faithfulness to their God and their vows,” explained ADF Legal Counsel Jonathan Scruggs. “The U.S. Constitution as well as federal and state law clearly stand against that. The city cannot mandate across-the-board conformity to its interpretation of a city ordinance in utter disregard for the guaranteed freedoms Americans treasure in our society.”

How many other towns and cities have statutes like this? No doubt there are other budding fascists out there who would enjoy putting Christian ministers in jail for not violating the sacred tenets of their faith.

This is a law that manifestly violates the Constitution so I wouldn't expect any court in America to uphold the city statutue. But the fact that it was passed in the first place should raise the alarm that the assault on religious liberty has entered a new phase. The power of government is being used in the contraceptive controversey and now the gay marriage issue to force acceptance of practices totally at odds with the religious faith of millions of people.