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I still want to have pastoral care over the marriages of my people, but I can’t sign those documents.” I could see a lot of guys going for that, to tell you the truth. Mattingly: Yeah, and frankly, also, couldn’t you see a Missouri-Synod pastor reaching that decision in, say, Massachusetts or New York quicker than they would reach it in Texas or Oklahoma or Arkansas or something? If you have any question about this, contact my church.” In other words, in some ways it’s not even acknowledging the state other than to say the state of Texas has agreed that if religious traditions have done a marriage, the state then will say, “Okay, we salute that,” which removes the couple even one stage further. Wilken: I was speaking recently with a Canadian pastor, and this maybe is another wrinkle here. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a story in the mainstream press covered as consistently and poorly as the story in Indiana. As I told the people last Sunday, when we speak to the world, we can expect the world to -examine us. We don’t hold a sacramental view of it, but I can very easily imagine a good stalwart Lutheran pastor of my ilk saying, “You know, I like Reardon’s solution. They just simply file a form that says, “A marriage has taken place. I believe it was Rod Dreher—might have been Mollie, might have been both; might have been Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, and it might have been both—who simply said, “What we saw in Indiana at the level of the press was nothing short of holy war.” I’ve been at this a long time, and this is really saying something.However, the legal status of same-sex marriage remains in a state of flux, and has not been ultimately decided. All 50 states have court cases pending on this issue. I also, just this morning, received a private note from another group of priests who are beginning to circulate a similar petition, kind of on the liturgical side. Allen: You can barely tell someone you’re a Christian without them asking, “What do you feel about same-sex marriage? So thus if a priest does this, he have done it for political reasons, right? So if it’s covered as, much like in the debacle we saw in the Indiana coverage, if this is covered simply as a gay-hating political statement by a radical priest, they’ve missed what the man’s arguing in the first place. At some point, I assume that what he’s done will get written about locally.
Allen: So you weren’t sure how widespread perhaps this phenomenon would be? Patrick: I really wasn’t sure what my moral obligation was, but I’ve only done one or two marriages since that decision of the legislature. But since I don’t anticipate a statement from the hierarchy any time soon, I decided to go on ahead on my own. Back to your question about the press: I think another statement you have to make is that a story isn’t real until it affects the Catholic Church, for many editors. I remember years ago, back in the ‘80s, when I was working at the , the major street in town—one of the major streets in town was Billy Graham Boulevard. And at that time, the Roman Catholic Church, the Diocese of Charlotte was the smallest in the United States, but almost all of my editors were from other parts of the country, as a part of a newspaper chain. And yet I could pitch them stories about the Southern Baptist Convention that had national implications because of how prominent Southern Baptist life was in Charlotte and in that part of the world, and they weren’t interested because they didn’t care about Southern Baptists. Wilken: I mean, the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, they share a sacramental view of marriage.
There’s no way to speak about God and the kingdom of God without making a political statement. Let me turn this question around: How serious do think this would be for Missouri-Synod Lutherans? Wilken: We’re still kind of—I don’t want to say “sitting on the fence”—still trying to decide, and I think the big confusion is precisely what you pointed out before, Terry, and that is: we have to distinguish public strategy, making political statements, which is certainly fine if you want to make political statements, and our understanding of the pastor and the congregation’s role in solemnizing marriage and what marriage is. Mattingly: I heard from somebody else who made an interesting comment that in the state of Texas, apparently the couple doesn’t even has to cooperate with the state so much. Mattingly: I told you before: “In an anti-gay move, a priest has decided, blah blah blah.” It will be stated as a political judgment and nigh unto bigotry, because obviously, on the political side of the fence at this point, hardly anybody is daring to even criticize the direct equation of DNA and race with sexual orientation.
And, as always, you have to watch the Roman Catholic Church, the biggest game in town.
In Canada, they have to fill out paperwork and be registered with the state to sign those documents, and that’s an entirely different kind of thing, but I’m wondering about the backlash against a Reardon strategy, where the state might say, “Now, wait a minute. Maybe we start registering our clergy to do this stuff.” Mr.
You don’t even have to do that and you can sign a marriage license. If it’s covered by the religion reporter, I think he’s got a shot to get the actual content of his views into print, at which people can then argue and debate them, as they should. I’m not sure, but my main prediction would be: It will depend on whether it’s covered as a religion story or as a political story. Wilken: Finally, then, Terry, personally, do you care to speculate on what the Supreme Court is going to do here? He’s the king; he just lets us stay here, and it’s all up to him if it’s a five-to-four vote. Wilken: Terry Mattingly is the director of the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.