In the 1990s the U.S. Supreme Court decided a handful of religious liberty cases on the basis of the First Amendment’s free speech clause. The most significant of these was Rosenberger v. University of Virginia (1995). In that case, the University of Virginia had denied funding to a religious student publication called Wide Awake. The case began with a focus on the establishment clause, and it might have been based on the free exercise of religion—but it ended up being about free speech.
For no reason I can remember, I put the ’90s classic Four Weddings and a Funeral on my Netflix queue and re-watched it recently.The scene etched in my mind all these years was that of the funeral. John Hannah, with his beautiful Scottish accent, reads “Funeral Blues” by W. H. Auden.
What the clip leaves off is the funeral officiant, presumably an Anglican priest, introducing the beloved partner of the man in the coffin as “his closest friend.”
In the recent U.S. Supreme Court hearings on whether states have a constitutional right to ban (or refuse to recognize) same-sex marriages, the conservative justices seemed to be preoccupied with the definition of marriage. As Chief Justice Roberts stated, in response to advocate Mary Bonauto, “Every definition that I looked up prior to about a dozen years ago, defined marriage as a unity between a man and a woman as husband and wife. Obviously, if you succeed, that core definition will no longer be operable.”
Whereas this and similar comments made during the hearing are perhaps true on their surface—marriage in the past has not been defined as a relationship between same-sex couples—such comments are misleading, suggesting that the definition of marriage has been unchanged “for millennia,” or disingenuous.
It was put forward by a conservative Christian pastor who says that “Faithful American Christians are increasingly under attack across the country by the gay lobby.” And it’s a proposal for Christian-owned small businesses who don’t want to serve people like me: gay people, especially ones who are out, loud, and proud.
[The cathedral is] nominally Episcopal but I’ve always thought of it as the beating heart of ceremonial deism, so no surprise that it would shift as the wider public does.
Say this for [Dean Gary Hall], too: He makes no bones about his political intentions. Although if you’re head of the National Cathedral and reaching out to press a hot button, why bother doing that? Why pretend it’s a purely religious decision when it’s not?
Allahpundit is obviously right about the ceremonial deism part. And I’ll be the first to admit that this strange American habit is bad for church and state alike.
But it’s absurd to suggest that the National Cathedral is only “nominally Episcopal.”