When the State dictates to religions – and spouses

As readers are no doubt aware, the Danish government has just decided that it can issue orders to the Evangelical Lutheran Church – namely, that the church must permit same-sex couples to marry in its buildings, with clergy officiating.  Individual clergy may decline to participate, but in that case a bishop must arrange a replacement.

In England, the government has also moved towards passing legislation that would have a similar effect.  The Telegraph reports:

The Church’s formal response to the Coalition’s same-sex marriage plans dismisses them as “divisive”, “legally flawed” and “essentially ideological”.

The Church of England has suggested that priests could be forced to marry homosexual couples in churches by the European Court of Human Rights despite assurances that they will be exempt.

The warnings came as the Church released its own legal analysis as part of its formal response to the consultation on Coalition’s plans to redefine marriage.

Dr Sharon James, a spokesperson from the Coalition for Marriage, said that they were “concerned that if same-sex marriage is introduced then courts could use equalities legislation to force religious premises and ministers to conduct same-sex marriages.”

There’s more at the link.

That’s what happens when you allow a government to regulate who may marry whom.  That’s also what happens when you have State-approved and/or -supported churches (as are both the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark and the Church of England in that country).  State support for anything ultimately boils down to State control of that thing, be it what you eat, what you drive, what you wear, who you marry, or what you believe.

As I’ve said before, I think the answer is to for the state to get out of the marriage business altogether (and out of the religion business too!).  Let people decide for themselves what they want to believe, and who they want to marry, and how they want to do both.  Who needs politicians and bureaucrats making those decisions for us, anyway?



  1. It's funny how the left always yells about "separation of church and state!" and then they try to ram their (state) views down religion's throat.

    I reckon those bureaucrats who are trying to ramrod that crap are on a one-way trip to Hell.


  2. In Ireland for many years it was just the opposite.

    The Roman Catholic Church dictated to the government how to run things.

    Although the sex scandals of priests brought a decline in the power of the church there is still a lot of "church controlled" patronage in the country.

  3. I'm a firm supporter of "gay marriage" (I feel that it is a requirement of the government to treat all citizens equally — if the government is going to grant privileges to couples for getting married, they need to grant them to any couples who wish them) but I'm highly opposed to this. Forcing any private entity to partake in a particular ceremony is unconscionable.

    On the other hand, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark is the "state church", and Denmark doesn't have any sort of "separation of church and state" like we do here. So, in some sense my sympathy for them is curtailed. If you play with fire, you might well get burned.

    As ever, binding things to the state means things can easily go sideways when the "wrong people" end up in charge of the state. Whether it's Obamacare or extraordinary rendition or any other abuse the government perpetrates, if you're counting on "the right people being in charge", your plan is fatally flawed.

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