The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, more popularly known as the Orthodox Union, or O.U., and Agudath Israel of California, an ultra-Orthodox group, have joined a coalition of California religious groups supporting Proposition 8, which, if passed in November, would reverse the California State Supreme Court’s May 15 ruling that gave homosexuals the “right” to “marry.”LifeSiteNews.com reported last week on the formation of the faith-based coalition, which includes Jews, Muslims, Evangelicals, Catholics, Mormons, Sikhs and Hindus (http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/aug/08082705.html).
The Orthodox Union, founded in 1898, is one of the largest Orthodox Jewish organizations in the United States and represents about 1,000 synagogues and congregations.
“We know the threat to people of faith and houses of worship is real and under way,” the O.U. said in a public statement. “Religious institutions and people face charges of bigotry and could be denied government funding and more if same-sex marriage becomes the law of the land.”
Howard Beigelman, deputy director of public policy for the O.U., expressed concern that court rulings in favor of same-sex marriage pose a growing threat to religious liberties.
He explained that in California, under the new same-sex marriage law, churches and synagogues could be sued if, for example, they refused to rent out their space for a homosexual couple’s wedding reception.
Marc D. Stern, well known writer and general counsel of the American Jewish Congress, said in an LA Times article (http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-stern17-2008jun17,0,5628051.story) on the trampling of religious freedom by homosexual activism: “In its controversial decision, the court insisted that these same-sex marriages would not ‘diminish any other person’s constitutional rights’ or ‘impinge upon the religious freedom of any religious organization, official or any other person.’ Religious liberty would be unaffected, the chief justice wrote, because no member of the clergy would be compelled to officiate at a same-sex ceremony and no church could be compelled to change its policies or practices.”
“And yet there is substantial reason to believe that these assurances about the safety of religious liberty are either wrong or reflect a cramped view of religion,” Mr. Stern observed.
“Evidence from previous and pending cases indicates that the court tends to take an extremely narrow view of people’s ‘free exercise and enjoyment of religion’ when they clash with another group’s need for equal protection.”
One of the cases Stern refers to is a California Supreme Court ruling that said a doctor’s religious beliefs take second place to the state’s anti-discrimination law. (See: California Supreme Court Rules Doctors Must Provide Treatment That Violates Their Religious Beliefs: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/aug/08081902.html).
As the battle lines in California continue to form, pro-family and faith-based organizations are encouraging individuals and groups to present a united front to fight the disestablishment of true marriage.
Penny Harrington, director of legislation for Concerned Women for America in California stated in a press release, “Proposition 8 is presently the most crucial battle of the culture war here. It is the responsibility of every pro-family individual in this state to understand and share the importance of protecting marriage by supporting Proposition 8 this November.”