Preliminary thoughts on the putsch

  1. SCOTUS doubles down on dignity
  2. Justice Kennedy’s mish-mash
  3. American Samizdat
  4. Where from here for Churches?


I have no intention of “moving on to more important things.” Little is more important. You surely know what I’m talking about.

But I’ve said so much about same-sex marriage already, in advance of Friday’s decision, that I’m not sure there’s much to add – at least not until I’ve actually read the opinions.

Brendan O’Neill, though, is being vindicated mightily in the celebrations. The Court is trying to give dignity and equal esteem.


The courts assert “neither force nor will,” said Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 78, “but merely judgment.”

Even its legally literate friends are not defending the persuasiveness of Justice Kennedy’s judgment. See here and here, for instance. His opinion reportedly is an incoherent jumble of substantive due process and equal protection without rigorous adherence to the precedents in either of those legal streams.

Dare I suggest that putative Catholic Anthony Kennedy is our Oliver Cromwell, cleansing our altars?


Mark Friday down as, among other things, the birth of American Samizdat. This edict was issued instantly:

These unions are now the law of the land. And we will not publish [op-Eds and letters to the editor in opposition to same-sex marriage] any more than we would publish those that are racist, sexist or anti-Semitic.

PennLive, the online Patriot-News. I suspect that the Patriot-News is unique only in its explicitness; other media will do likewise sub silencio.

Ironically, I hear that Justice Kennedy did not rely on his usual song-and-dance about opposition being based in mere animus and bigotry. The Patriot-News must have had this policy ready to role out grandiosely on the reasonable assumption that he would declare history and historic religion bigoted again – but he tricked them.

Imagine this:

It’s now the law of the land that negroes, whether slave or free, cannot be citizens and can’t sue in federal court, and that the federal government has no power to regulate slavery in the territories acquired since the nation’s birth. And we will not publish op-Eds and letters to the editor in support of any perverse contrary opinion, be it that of Mr. Lincoln, declaring the ruling illegitimate and vowing to treat it as such, or of anyone else who avers seditiously that we should not resign our government “into the hands of that eminent tribunal.”


If this blog has any Evangelical readers despite my frequent jibes and swipes at my former tradition – especially readers in Churches of “congregationalist” church polity (e.g., non-denominational or loosely-affiliated but with congregational independence) – your pastors would do well to get up to speed quickly on how to protect your congregation from discrimination claims, as you’ll not be getting guidance from your non-existent hierarchs.

Although I have my issues with the Alliance Defending Freedom, it’s likely that its three early-July webcasts (July 7 and two on July 8) will be solid and useful. I’d anticipate that they’ll advise ceasing to rent Church facilities to non-members, as I certainly would; doing so risks turning those facilities into “public accommodations” subject to anti-discrimination laws.

I would add advice to cease performing weddings even for purported Christians when neither is a member of the congregation. If you don’t, someone will someday show up and claim to be Christian despite unrepentant sodomy, and if they’re not your member, you’ll be substantially powerless to gainsay their claim. I predict there will be discrimination claims against pastors who comport themselves like genial wedding chapel proprietors, even if they limit their services to self-proclaimed Christians, though I’m not sure those pastors will lose.

Personally, I think we’re at the point where Churches and Pastors should neither require nor sign state-issued marriage licenses. There simply remains too little congruence between what the state calls marriage and what faithful Christians know it to be. This option is not a trouble-free “clean break” with the state, however; if you lack a state license, you’re not legally married, so you cannot invoke state laws and courts for dissolving the temporal aspects of your Christian marriage, as sadly will continue to occur.

Pastors and priest in historic, connectional/presbyterial or hierarchical churches likely will get guidance within their denominations or traditions.

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.