I’ve stayed out of all the online LDS discussions concerning what is termed “same-sex marriage,” “SSM” or “gay marriage,” after all, I’m an anarchist, so I don’t believe in government involvement in what I consider private affairs. The recent First Presidency letter read in California sacrament meetings asking California saints to do all they could to pass Proposition 8, which would amend the California constitution to have a definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman, has sparked a lot of online talk among LDS. But I have remained silent.
However, my own belief and understanding has always been that the main reason why the Church (with a capital ‘C,’ indicating the corporate entity, not the lower case ‘c,’ indicating the baptized people of the Lord) is supporting this California constitutional amendment is that “gay marriage” may lead to the dissolution of the corporate Church.
Yes, I am aware of the moral and other reasons that the Church is putting forth for this push to define marriage, in documents such as The Divine Institution of Marriage, which is the Church’s latest press release concerning this issue (and thanks goes to the Faith Promoting Rumor blog for bringing this press release to my attention), but what has gnawed at me for a long time were the legal ramifications. What does this mean to the corporate Church?
The new Church press release briefly mentions some legal aspects of legalized same-sex “marriage.” Here are the two paragraphs devoted to this issue:
Other advocates of same-sex marriage are suggesting that tax exemptions and benefits be withdrawn from any religious organization that does not embrace same-sex unions. Public accommodation laws are already being used as leverage in an attempt to force religious organizations to allow marriage celebrations or receptions in religious facilities that are otherwise open to the public. Accrediting organizations in some instances are asserting pressure on religious schools and universities to provide married housing for same-sex couples. Student religious organizations are being told by some universities that they may lose their campus recognition and benefits if they exclude same-sex couples from club membership.
Many of these examples have already become the legal reality in several nations of the European Union, and the European Parliament has recommended that laws guaranteeing and protecting the rights of same-sex couples be made uniform across the EU. Thus, if same-sex marriage becomes a recognized civil right, there will be substantial conflicts with religious freedom. And in some important areas, religious freedom may be diminished. (Emphasis mine.)
Apparently, I am not the only one thinking about the legalities of SSM. Just yesterday a LDS saint alerted me of a letter from a stake president who was asking for donations to pass the California Proposition 8. In that letter, here is what the stake president wrote:
The ramifications of this vote are wide-spread and numerous. In places where the definition of marriage has been expanded, institutions have been forced to accept and embrace alternate lifestyles or risk losing government privileges, including tax-exempt status. (Emphasis mine.)
My understanding is that the Church is incorporated in the state of Utah [changed from 'Nevada', see below] as a corporate sole, under 501(c)3 tax exemption. Corporations have got to obey the laws of the state in which they are incorporated, right? And states have the “good faith and credit clause” by which they respect and accept the judgments of judges made in other states, right?
So I can conceive of the corporate Church coming to the point where it has to pick sides: either obey the laws of Utah [changed from 'Nevada', see below] and keep its corporate charter and articles (and the corporation itself) intact while disregarding the Lord’s moral directives toward homosexuality, or obey the Lord’s moral commandments and disobey the laws of Utah [changed from 'Nevada', see below] , effectively opening up the possibility of forced dissolution of the Church.
Now, anyone who has sufficiently gone over this blog should know that I have no problems with the dissolution of the corporate Church. I feel that we should be a free-church, not a corporate state-Church. And I feel that we ought to voluntarily un-incorporate the Church, whether doing so ourselves or by using the services of certain free-church ministries.
But do I really believe that the Church will un-incorporate itself of its own free will? Of course, not. Corporations, like governments, tend to do everything in their power to perpetuate their own existence. However, legalized “gay marriage” may be just the thing that will force un-incorporation upon us, making us a free-church, and finally allowing the natural system of tribal anarchy to reign among the saints, in preparation of all that is prophesied to happen in these days.
If Prop 8 is defeated, and in my opinion, it will be, regardless of how much money is pumped into its campaign by LDS and others, what will happen to the corporate Church? Anybody versed in corporate law is welcome to respond and give his or her understanding as to whether legalized SSM may present a real danger to the life of the Church corporation sole or its tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status. As I am not schooled in corporate law, my understanding may be flawed. Feel free to correct me.
Liberty under a free-church
If and when the Church becomes un-incorporated, whether by its own volition or through government force, and we truly are a free-church, proponents of legalized SSM cannot use the law to force the church to accept homosexual arrangements, whether legal or illegal. Because a free-church is outside of the jurisdiction of State regulations, it essentially does not exist in the eyes of the State, therefore all religious pronouncements are of a completely private nature.
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