Missouri Family E-News

March 17, 2015

Survey Shows Support for Traditional Marriage

A new nationwide survey reveals strong opposition to the unilateral actions of federal judges to redefine marriage to include same-sex unions.

The survey found that 61 percent of Americans agree that "the Supreme Court should not force all 50 states to redefine marriage and that states should remain free to uphold marriage as the union of a man and a woman."

Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, hailed the polling results from the firm WPA Opinion Research.  "This survey tells us that the American people will not accept marriage redefinition by judicial fiat."

Contrary to the baseless claims of the ultraliberal print and broadcast media, most Americans have yet to "evolve" on the subject of homosexual unions being a social or legal form of marriage. 

The survey found that 53 percent of Americans believe that marriage should continue to be defined in historical terms as exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

"Americans have not reached a broad social consensus on the redefinition of marriage," Perkins says.  "Unless and until they do, judges should not impose on them something that will only cause deep social division."

Perkins says the survey results reinforce what Americans have had to say on this subject when they have been given a chance to vote according to their true convictions.

"We continue to hear the narrative that 37 states have embraced same-sex 'marriage,'" Perkins notes.  "Yet this survey reaffirms the fact that 30 states have upheld natural marriage at the ballot box and only three states have voted to redefine it."

The FRC President warns that the Supreme Court may open yet another long-term cultural civil war if it forces so-called same-sex "marriage" on the entire country.

"We don't have to look far into history to see what happens when the Supreme Court preempts broad social consensus as it did four decades ago when they imposed abortion on demand on all 50 states."

"The Supreme Court failed to silence the abortion debate then and the Court will fail again now should it redefine marriage, an issue which could prove even more contentious," Perkins states.

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a landmark ruling on the future of marriage in America in early summer.  The High Court is hearing an appeal of a 6th Appeals Court decision upholding the traditional marriage laws of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.

The Supreme Court has allowed other appellate circuits to redefine marriage to include same-sex unions by refusing to hear appeals of those cases.  Appeals courts in the 4th, 7th, 9th, and 10th Circuits have in effect forced same-sex "marriage" on the states in those circuits.

A challenge to Missouri's constitutional amendment preserving traditional marriage is currently before the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Missouri litigation has been combined with cases out of South Dakota and Arkansas.

In the most recent development, a federal judge in Nebraska ordered that state to redefine marriage to include same-sex "couples."  The 8th Circuit issued a stay of that decision, and has added the Nebraska case to the others just mentioned.


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Federal Appeals Court Nixes Law Protecting
Houses of Worship

A Missouri law designed to protect church worship services from disruption by protest groups has been struck down by a federal appeals court.   A three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the House of Worship Protection Act violates the freedom of speech guarantees of the First Amendment.

The action by the 8th Circuit reverses a decision by U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber, who had previously upheld the law's constitutionality in the spring of 2013.  The case has now been remanded back to the District Court, for final disposition of the lawsuit.

The House of Worship Protection Act was adopted by the Missouri Legislature and signed into law by Governor Nixon in 2012.  The bill was sponsored by former Senator Rob Mayer of Dexter, who at the time was President Pro Tem of the Missouri Senate.  The language of the law was developed by the Missouri Family Policy Council with assistance from attorneys with the Alliance Defending Freedom.

The law created the misdemeanor crime of disrupting a house of worship.  This could occur in one of two ways:  1) By intentionally and unreasonably interrupting a house of worship in a manner that disturbs the order and solemnity of the worship services; or 2) By intimidating or interfering with the any person seeking access to a house of worship through force, threat, or physical obstruction.

The lawsuit challenging the House of Worship statute was filed by two groups that protest outside Catholic churches.  One is the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a St. Louis group which seeks to spotlight allegations of sexual exploitation of minors by Catholic clergy.  The other group is Call to Action, a Kansas City group demanding changes in the doctrines and governance of the Catholic Church.

The plaintiffs argued that the new law would restrict their ability to engage in peaceful protests on public property in the vicinity of Catholic churches.  U.S. District Judge Webber dismissed those claims, pointing out that the language of the law clearly permits individuals to present their message by picketing outside churches or sharing leaflets with those passing by. 

Judge Webber concluded that the state had "a significant interest in protecting individuals' right to peaceably assemble and to exercise their religious freedom," and that the law only restricted speech when it was disruptive to a church service because of its manner, not its content.  As such, it was a constitutionally defensible viewpoint-neutral regulation.

However, the 8th Circuit panel has now decided that the House of Worship Protection Act is a content-based restriction on free speech.  In their opinion, the three judges stated that the law seeks to regulate protesters standing on public sidewalks, and restricts the content of the signs they may carry and the conversations they may have with passersby.

These statements are undeniably untrue.  The only way the three judges could reach such a conclusion is that they lack the mental capacity to understand basic rules of grammatical construction in the English language, or that they have decided to deliberately distort the clear language of the statute to serve the interests of the plaintiffs.
The opinion was  written by Judge Diana Murphy, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton.  Her opinion was joined by Judge Roger Wollman, who was appointed by President Reagan, and by Judge James Loken, who was appointed by President George H.W. Bush.

In recent years, church services have been invaded and disrupted by groups seeking to promote their social cause or political message.  It has been a familiar tactic by radical elements of the homosexual rights movement.  A leading perpetrator was a group called Bash Back.

The group's most notorious incident occurred at Mount Hope Church in Lansing, Michigan.  Approximately 30 members of the group showed up at the church with megaphones and an upside-down pink cross.  Bash Back participants then infiltrated the congregation prior to service.

Once the church service began, members of Bash Back jumped up and began shouting anti-Christian epithets and chanted repeatedly that "Jesus was gay."  They then unfurled a pro-homosexual banner, flung condoms around the sanctuary, and staged an open display of homosexual affection from the pulpit.  Group members then set off the fire alarms as they left the sanctuary.

Mars Hill Church in Portland, Oregon, was the site of similar disruptive protests.  In one incident, about 20 black-clad protesters blocked the entrance to the church and shouted at those seeking to enter the church:  "Shame on you homophobes.  You're not welcome here.  You're going to burn in hell."

In yet another incident, a group calling itself the "Angry Queers" smashed nine of the church's stained glass windows with rocks, including two 100 year-old stained glass windows.  The group issued a statement calling Christians "scum" who deserve "hammers through their windows."  "We hope this small act of vengeance will strike fear into the hearts of all of Mars Hills pastors," the statement continued.

Disruptive episodes in churches have by no means been limited to "gay rights" activists.  In 2008 anti-war protesters invaded Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago on Easter Sunday.  They began shouting at the beginning of Cardinal Francis George's homily.  They then proceeded to spray fake blood on parishioners dressed in their Easter finery to symbolize their opposition to the conflict in Iraq.

In 2012 protesters interrupted the worship service at Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas.  They hurled anti-Semitic leaflets from the balcony and shouted anti-Jewish slurs.  Cornerstone Pastor John Hagee has been a strong supporter of the nation of Israel.

These types of actions go beyond mere matters of peace disturbance, trespassing, or public nuisance.  They are concerted efforts to deprive citizens of their constitutional right to freedom of worship, and should be prosecuted as such.

Citizens who value the practice of their faith should be able to worship God freely in their houses of worship without fear of harassment or intimidation in their own sanctuary.  We will keep you posted on efforts to see that the state of Missouri continues its legal defense of the House of Worship Protection Act.