Can a church get sued?

Discussion in 'Christian Issues' started by homeschooler06, May 3, 2009.

  1. homeschooler06

    homeschooler06 Active Member

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    Okay so I was talking to a friend the other day about what has just happened in our state. We are one step away from having gay marriages in our state. Her pastor has already said that he will refuse to marry same s** couples. He also doesn't marry couples who had a divorce in the past.
    So if the actually goes thru and a same s** couples happens to go into a church and on that Sunday the preacher decided to talk about that lifestyle bing a sin, can that couple sue the church for discrimination?
    Is this going to lead to changes in churches now? Like there are changes in the schools?
    Personally I wouldn't understand why a same s** couple would want to attend church because 'DUH' Churches are against this lifestyle. At least all the ones I have been too.
     
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  3. eyeofthestorm

    eyeofthestorm Active Member

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    I'm no attorney, but here's what I think.

    Can a church get sued? I think in our society - anyone or any entity can be sued in court. Whether the suit has merit or not, whether the judge throws it out, whether the plaintiff loses, whether insurance companies insist on their clients settling...those are all separate issues.

    I do not believe there would be a basis for a lawsuit in this instance. This seems (to me, the non-attorney) an issue of free speech and freedom of religion. Your pastor sounds consistent in his practice. He preaches against divorce, and refuses to perform ceremonies for divorcees. If he were to preach against divorce and then marry divorcees, then preach against homos**uality, and then refuse to marry them, someone might make a case for discrimination. The only exception I might see to this would be if the preacher railed against homos**uality in a hateful way - as opposed to a Jesus loves us, and wants us to be happy in lives God created us for way, for example - that might be construed as "hate speech," and while they (whoever) might not get him on that, they might use it against him down the road.

    Will this lead to changes? I think so. Changes happen in the schools because they are public entities - government run institutions. Change is planned and engineered in them. Changes in churches take place differently. The members have to move toward change as a group. Sadly, I think this often happens from a herd mentality, rather than independent thought, consideration, reflection, and purposeful prayer.

    Oh - and why people want to attend churches that condemn their life choices? Well, two answers to that. One, some people are just contrary. They want others to change to suit them. If a bunch of rabble rousers can get a church to give in, then the rabble rousers have been endorsed, as in, "See! We were right all along!" The other reason is a little more complex, and difficult. I have know individuals who were g*y who attended church. One was a pastor's grown son. He never gave up his church attendance or his faith, but I know he couldn't reconcile what he felt with his faith and with the institution of his church organization. Honestly, that particular denomination had had several clergy spout real vitriol concerning this topic (homos**uality, not g*y marriage). And I'm sorry, there's a big difference between expressing oneself with love and with spite. I could not reconcile these statements and the manner in which they were made with Christian charity, and I'm as straight as it gets. But this guy, he didn't let it stop him from attending. Was he as active as he might have been? No - but he was always there, quietly in the back, worshiping with the Body of Christ.
     
  4. Jackie

    Jackie Active Member

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    RIGHT NOW, I don't think he could be sued, but am not sure. In the future, if the "hate crimes" legislation goes through, he could be for just preaching against it. (After some could hear it and do "something" go a gay person simply because of what was said, and therefor, the speaker could be liable :roll:). My understanding is that this has already happening in Canada and in Europe.

    At the same time, I could see a gay couple trying to sue a pastor for not marrying them. I do know some churches have been sued because not allowing gay couples to use their building for the "ceremony". These churches pretty much have an "open door" policy for people renting their building, so it was considered "discriminatory". I don't know how the ruling went. So I would GUESS that if a pastor married only church members, he might have more power to say no. (BTW, my parents' pastor won't marry anyone divorced...and that included his own daughter!)

    I suggest that another reason a gay person might try to marry in that situation would be to actually force the lawsuit to begin with.
     
  5. Emma's#1fan

    Emma's#1fan Active Member

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    It will depend on how your state law is written.

    When 8 was going through Cali, if it didn't pass, churches would have to marry homosexuals. This is where my pastor and many other churches said they will be shut down before doing what they believe is wrong.
    ...and to answer your question, yes the church could be sued for hate crimes and going against the law, at least in Cali they could have been if 8 passed.

    So again, it will depend on how your law is written.
     
  6. chicamarun

    chicamarun New Member

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    There is a lot of fighting about things like this - even Dr's REQUIRED to offer abortions (I go to a Catholic OB/GYN and they don't offer it as an option as it is against their beliefs)....

    I hope that nothing passes that requires ANY church to do something that is against their beliefs - whatever they are.

    NOW - I will tell you that people can sue for anything. For example - we had to stop selling raw goat's milk labeled NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION (totally legal in VA) not because of any law - but because of insurance because some person COULD sue if they ate/drank it and got sick (some people were making soap, yogurt - which pasturizes it anyways). They wouldn't win - but it would be an expensive and long trial. So we had to stop doing something that was completely legal because we live in a "suing society"
     
  7. momofafew

    momofafew New Member

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    You can sue a church, but not because you do not like their religious beliefs. So you don't have to worry about that.
     
  8. dawninns

    dawninns New Member

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    I don't recall anything like that happening up here. Churches do have special protection of their own after all under freedom of religion considerations. If you hear someone make claims of stuff happening in Canada make sure to ask for sources because I've found that some like to hold Canada up as a boogeyman and manufacture some downright bizarre claims about us.

    Regardless, I'm a firm believer that state marriages should be open to gay couples and that churches should have every right to refuse to perform marriage ceremonies for whatever reason. Anyone can go get their license but that doesn't mean a couple has any right to expect anyone will give them a wedding ceremony. It's an easy line to draw but gets complicated when churches try to dominate and claim state issues (like marriage) or states try to dictate church behaviour.
     
  9. sixcloar

    sixcloar New Member

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    Right now they do here, but new legislation could change much of our religious freedom.
     
  10. KrisRV

    KrisRV New Member

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    I think we all are in for alot of changes, same sex marriage is just the mild thing we will see...


    Yes, anyone or anything can be sue, weather it goes all the way and thats work thats up to judge and jury to tell.
     
  11. homeschooler06

    homeschooler06 Active Member

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    I think I like my 'world' as is. As I mentioned in another post :) Unfortatally that isn't going to happen we have to face the real world. I just hope it's not too corupt for when my children grew up.
    As for the sue happy world, it's a reason why my dad quit helping people and why he has been trying to get me to quit helping others. He worries about the garden that I am helping with.
     
  12. 3angelsmom

    3angelsmom New Member

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    I wouldn't think a church could be sued for that. Isn't that what separation of church and state is all about? The government cannot make the church change it's beliefs. If they do, they are infringing on our freedom of religion.
    One would think that homosexuals, knowing that the Christian church believes their lifestyle a sin, would not want to attend or marry in one.
    If they do, I would think they are just trying to make trouble for the Christian church.
     
  13. kbabe1968

    kbabe1968 New Member

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    See...I think a time is coming when a church will lose it's tax exemption status if it refuses to do some things - ie. same sex marriages, ordaining women, etc.

    Separation of Church and State. LOL :D
     
  14. Emma's#1fan

    Emma's#1fan Active Member

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    This is regarding the blue portion of your post.:)
    What you wrote makes complete sense but when Prop 8 was up for vote, if it failed, the government would be allowed to rewrite the law and force churches to marry homosexuals or face being shut down, sued, or the pastor could have his license revoked.
    Sadly we have a government that wants a seperation of religion and state when it comes to a public education. Yet they can't wait to get involved in the church and tell her what she can and can't do.

    Now this is for the red portion of your post. ;) I figured it would be easier than quoting twice.:D

    Sadly there are some homosexuals who are rebels and trying to prove a point. This comment isn't regarding all of them because some of them actually believe that the church should decide who it will and will not marry. As long as they can have a legal right to marry, it doesn't matter if the church does it or a court house.

    My BIL is a pastor and had a gay couple ask him to marry them. They also attended the church for a while. He called them both in for a meeting and showed them what scripture said about homosexuality and told them he couldn't marry them and be in obedience with God.
    One lady was fuming and stood outside the church on Sunday morning yelling and telling people not to attend the church. She called it The Hate Church. The other lady continued attending and was torn between her lifestyle and God's will. She also left but was kind and understanding.

    I think there are some homosexuals who are willing to respect others beliefs because they want to be respected even if people do not agree. Then there are some who are hell bent on making sure Christians bend to their lifestyle even if our government has to force us to.

    There was an orphanage in some state where gay marriage is legal. I think it starts with an M. Anyways, it was operated by the Catholic church. A gay couple wanted to adopt. The church refused. The couple sued and the church was forced to adopt out a child to them or be shut down. So the home was shut down. :x
    Siblings were scattered. The head of the church told the couple he could give them a list of many orphanages they could adopt from but he couldn't do so himself. They refused. They wanted a child from the Catholic church. I heard some homosexuals on the radio coming against this couple and said they do not represent all homosexuals. I guess they were part of a movement and they were willing to shut down an orphanage to prove a point. They could have adopted from anywhere but it had to be from the church. It was such a big deal that it made it to secular radio.

    This is what happend when government gets involved
    Yikes.
     
  15. Jackie

    Jackie Active Member

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    Dawn, I KNEW you'd jump in :)!!!

    It was a while back I heard of this happening in Canada, and yes, they DID give the source! (Oh, and it WASN'T with Worldnet, BTW ;)!) I've not heard of any recently!

    I feel that individuals should be able to do as their conscience dictates. If it would violate their beliefs, then they should be allowed NOT to perform the marriage. And I can't see why a gay person would WANT a person to marry them who feels it is wrong. For example, my husband is divorced. For us to "force" a person to marry us when it would go against that person's beliefs would, to me, be really starting our marriage on the wrong foot. It's not as if there's not plenty of people who WOULD do it! And there's plenty of folk out there that WILL "marry" gay couples, so why would they insist on someone who is against it, other than to have an "in-your-face" attitude?
     
  16. dawninns

    dawninns New Member

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    It's good to remember that not all Christian churches do believe their lifestyle is sinful and there are some that will perform marriage ceremonies.

    I also think the framing of the issue as gays rights against church rights is almost misleading because we forget something important. That many of those gay couples are in fact fellow Christians. Why else would they want a Christian ceremony? This isn't the case of external assault by strangers - it's fellow Christians asking for the same treatment as other Christians. If they have to go outside the church to secular authorities to have that conversation with their own church I think the church has failed in some respect. That's not to say I think a church is obligated to agree with it's gay members on marriage, that's not ever a given in any family, just that there may be something wrong with how the talk is handled if gay members are looking outside the church for a means of confronting their church.

    The other thing is, I just don't think the church has any right to work to deny secular rights to citizens for church safety. That's throwing someone else in the fire to save yourself and I can't see that as Christian in any respect. If churches have concerns about their own rights being compromised by measures like Prop 8 then the reasonable course to me would be to propose an alternate wording or sit down with legislators to ensure that gay marriage become a secular right without compromising their own right to not perform gay marriages. I think that would also go a long way to dismissing the common belief that opposing gay marriage equals homophobia.
     
  17. Ava Rose

    Ava Rose New Member

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    I hate that if gays and gay marriage supporters get their way it takes away rights from others. I understand I live in a country (world) that has different views on marriage and sexuality. I am not trying to dictate my beliefs onto so-called gay churches. So why would my church ever be forced to compromise? What will happen when I have no place to worship? I will NEVER worship at a church who performs gay marriage ceremonies. My pastor would shut the doors before allowing that. He also doesn't marry couples for a variety of other reasons..it is not just this issue.

    I think churches should never be forced by the state to go against their doctrine...on anything..not just the gay marriage issue. To me this is not as much about gay marriage as religious freedom and retaining my rights to worship as I see fit (as long as I am not destroying property or physcially harming an individual). If churches are forced to perform gay marriage ceremonies then the churches will be pawns of the state and soon all freedom will cease. It just sickens me. This is not about gay vs. anti-gay. This issue is just the catalyst for more forced compromise that will lead to lost truth and doctrine.
     
  18. Emma's#1fan

    Emma's#1fan Active Member

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    Interesting but it misses the fact that Christian churches are based upon the Word of God. Scriptures make it clear that homosexuality is wrong and an abomination to God. A Christian marriage, according to Scripture, is a covenant with God between a man and a women. Nowhere in the Bible will we find any other type of marriage. I do believe that homosexuality denies God's creation for what it is and warps the covenant between God, man, and women. I believe with all my heart that if God wanted His churches to marry homosexuals, he would have given us all a choice as to whether we wanted a penis or vagina when He made us in the first place but we were created with a plan and a purpose; a man for a women and a women for a man.

    This is a problem in and of itself because it isn't their church if it is a true Christian church, it is God's church and if it is God's church, it is God's rules. If they are Christians who know scripture, they know the very foundation of a Christian church is the Word they claim to believe so how can they go to an outside source and come against the very God they claim to be saved by?
    This is where scripture comes into play. There are people/churches who call themselves Christians, yet their theology is contrary to scripture. I am not simply refering to homosexuality here but their whole whole theology as a whole. The Bible says that just because somebody says they are a Christian doesn't make it so.

    21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' -Matthew 7:21-23



    Awww! I love hearing from you dawninns. You are always a pleasure to converse with.:D
     
  19. Ava Rose

    Ava Rose New Member

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    How I missed debating Dawn is beyond me but I couldn't have said it better than Patty! Patty, you bring glory to God's name speaking truth so boldly.

    Christians are guided by the Word of God. It is not our words but God's that we stand on. If a person claims to be a Christian but believes contrary to the Word of God than that person is NOT a Christian. Some are only "religious" based on tradition or childhood memories of going to church not because he or she really wants to obey God. Sure you can find a preacher to say just about anything. That's why we follow the Word of God not the Word of Preacher So and So. lol.

    If it's green, hops, eats flies and lives on a lilly pad but claims to be a dog somethings amiss.
     
  20. Jackie

    Jackie Active Member

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    Guys, I intentionally kept from debating the rights and wrongs of homosexuality and what the church should be doing or not doing. I'm not sure that THIS is the place for it. Perhaps it could be carried on elsewhere, and we can get back to the original question of whether or not a church can be sued.

    Understand, I'm NOT against the debate itself!!! Just would prefer seeing it moved to another place.
     
  21. Ava Rose

    Ava Rose New Member

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    Understood..that makes sense. We women like to talk and discuss so its all too easy to get off track. Many threads get completely off track but with a serious issue it often overshadows the OP original intent and the question doesn't get answered.

    The original question was about a church being sued over NOT performing gay marriages, right?

    So, can a church be sued for not performing gay marriages if gay marriage is legalized in your state?

    Honestly, I have no clue and I hope not. I hope that a church will not be forced by the state to do anything.
     

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