Idaho Pastors Win Battle Over "Gay" Nuptials
Idaho pastor and his wife have won a showdown with the city of Couer
d'Alene over demands that they preside over same-sex union ceremonies.
and Evelyn Knapp, who are both ordained Pentecostal ministers, have
operated The Hitching Post Lakeside Chapel in Coeur d'Alene since 1989.
officials had previously informed the Knapps that they must perform
same-sex "weddings" at their chapel, or face the potential of a $1000
fine for each day of violation and up to 180 days in jail.
attorneys said the failure by the couple to do so would violate the
city's non-discrimination ordinance, which prohibits bias against
persons based on so-called "sexual orientation" and "gender identity."
officials said the Knapps must comply because The Hitching Post is
operated as a for-profit corporation. The Knapps responded by
filing suit in federal court arguing that the edict was a violation of
their First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion.
Knapps stated publicly that they would shut down The Hitching Post
before they would take actions contrary to what the Bible teaches.
a controversy that attracted national headlines, city officials have
reversed their position. They now say that the Knapps' lakeside
chapel is exempt from the ordinance because the business is a "religious
In their lawsuit, the Knapps asserted
that they believe that "God created two distinct genders in His Image"
and "that God ordained marriage to be between one man and one woman."
weddings conducted by the Knapps are distinctly Christian in
nature. Scriptures are read during the ceremonies, and couples are
provided with sermons on Christian marriage and recommended books on
Jeremy Tedesco, senior legal counsel for
the Alliance Defending Freedom, says the city's treatment of the
ministers is a predictable result of the "special rights" laws pushed by
"We've been told that pastors
would never be forced to perform ceremonies that are completely at odds
with their faith. Yet that's exactly what is happening here, and
it is happening this quickly."
Tony Perkins, President
of the Family Research Council, says that the Hitching Post case
reveals the true intentions of the so-called "marriage equality"
"Americans are witnesses to the reality that
redefining marriage is less about the marriage altar, and more about
fundamentally altering the freedoms of the other 98 percent of
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Win Public Vote on
"Gay Rights" Bill
Missouri residents have wasted no time in their efforts to repeal a new
"gay rights" ordinance that would threaten the religious freedom and
privacy of Christian families, ministries, and private businesses.
The Springfield City Council passed the ordinance in mid-November
which grants special rights to homosexuals and "transgendered"
individuals. The ordinance purports to prohibit discrimination
based on so-called "sexual orientation" and "gender identity."
law in Springfield enables citizens to force a public referendum on a
newly enacted city ordinance if a sufficient number of signatures are
obtained from city residents. Opponents needed to collect a total
of 1,144 signatures. Local churches and conservative groups acted
quickly to obtain more than twice that number (2831) in less than a
The City Clerk's office certified on November 11th that the necessary
number of signatures had been validated. Last night the
Springfield City Council decided by default to place the "gay rights"
ordinance on the April municipal ballot for a public vote. The
Council had the choice of reversing their previous vote in the face of
the strong public backlash, but chose to stand firm in their allegiance
to the goals of homosexual rights activists.
Dick Hardy, one of
the organizers of the petition drive, says that the ordinance must be
repealed to preserve religious freedom in the Springfield
community. "This ordinance will deprive private citizens of their
right to exercise their First Amendment freedoms in their business
practices. It also will open the door for biological males,
including heterosexual sexual predators, to legally use women's
The new ordinance revises the city's Human Rights Code to ban
discrimination based on "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" in
employment, housing, and public accommodations. As a result of the
changes, Christian ministries, Christian charities, and Christian
non-profit organizations could be prosecuted for failing to hire
professed homosexuals or "transgendered" individuals, despite their
vocal opposition to Biblical standards and Christian doctrine.
Christian schools could also be subject to lawsuits for failing to hire
avowed homosexuals or cross-dressers as teachers in the
classroom. City Council members eliminated language that would
have preserved the prerogative of religious organizations to give
employment preference to adherents of their own religious
denomination. Springfield is home to several large Christian
ministries, including the international headquarters of the Assemblies
of God fellowship.
The most sinister portion of the new ordinance is a change to the
"public accommodations" section of the Human Rights Code. This new
requirement would make it unlawful to withhold or deny services to any
person based on "sexual orientation" or "gender identity." Similar
provisions in state and local laws across the country have been used in
punitive fashion to target and harass Christian business owners who
have declined to support homosexual ceremonies and "celebrations."
florists, and photographers have been prosecuted and found guilty of
"sexual orientation" discrimination for failing to bake cakes for,
provide flowers for, or take photographs of same-sex union
ceremonies. Human rights officers and judges have thumbed their
nose at the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment by declaring
that Christian business
owners must forfeit their religious beliefs to engage in public commerce.
most universally repulsive consequence of the new ordinance is the
action by the City Council to turn all public bathrooms in the city into
unisex facilities. Any restroom in a public building or a
building open to the public must now be accessible to individuals of the
opposite gender. That means that men can invade women's restrooms
merely by asserting that their "gender identity" that day is that of a
the actions of the Springfield City Council have been oppressive
enough, they have yet to rival the police-state tactics employed by the
city of Houston, Texas in a similar scenario. In that community,
openly lesbian Mayor Annise Parker*
pushed through a similar "gay rights"
ordinance. Citizens revolted in massive fashion in large measure
due to the unisex bathroom issue. They branded the bill the
"sexual predator protection act."
Pastors in the city
organized efforts to secure signatures to place the issue on a public
referendum. Over 55,000 signatures were collected, well over the
17,000 required. Yet the city attorney invalidated many of the
signatures, claiming there were "technical problems" with the
petitions. Organizers of the petition drive then went to court
challenging the arbitrary action of city officials to discredit
signatures that had been submitted in accordance with the law.
the legal process of discovery unfolded in the litigation, attorneys
for the city enraged the community by issuing subpoenas for the sermons
and private communications of five area pastors. In addition to
sermons and sermon notes, city attorneys sought access to pastors'
e-mails, text messages, electronic files, calendars, and "all
communications" with members of their congregations on the topics of
homosexuality and "gender identity."
President of the Family Research Council, sharply condemned Mayor
Parker's abusive actions. "This is nothing less than political
intimidation. It is about a mayor using her bully pulpit to try to
silence the pulpits of Houston."
Litigation Counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, says that the
actions by Houston officials are unprecedented. "The city council
and its attorneys are engaging in an inquisition designed to stifle any
critique of its actions. Political and social commentary is not a
crime; it is protected by the First Amendment."
Peter Kirsanow, a member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, came to
the defense of Houston area pastors. "This [action] impairs their
right to petition the government, forces them to comply with a patently
overbroad discovery request, and singles them out for opprobrium--thus
chilling future religiously informed speech."
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee
responded to the controversy by urging pastors all across the country
to send Mayor Parker their sermons as well. The Mayor's office has
also received hundreds of Bibles sent by churches across the nation.
Parker now says that she is no longer seeking copies of the pastor's
sermons. She says she backed down not to "satisfy" the pastors,
but because the subpoenas "were no longer serving Houston."
However, the city has reportedly not abandoned its efforts to obtain
access to other pastoral communications.
Back here in
Springfield, Missouri, we commend the many citizens of the community
who responded with diligence and vigilance to the anti-Christian actions
the Springfield City Council. It is heartening to see a major
city in the heart of Missouri's Bible Belt stand up vigorously to the
reckless agenda of homosexual rights advocates.
salute the work of Dick Hardy and Calvin Morrow, who were leaders of the
petition drive effort, and ask your continuing prayers for them.
We will keep you posted on the actual campaign to repeal the ordinance
as it gets underway.*We
normally do not reference the private sexual behavior of public
officials. However, in the case of Mayor Parker, she has made it a
centerpiece of her crusade on this issue, saying it was a "personal
matter" for her.