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Is Referendum 74 a religious issue?


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On Thursday there was a “discussion” on Referendum 74, the marriage equality proposal, at the Spokane Rotary Club. The discussion was between Bishop Blase Cupich, of the Catholic Diocese of Spokane, and City Councilman Jon Snyder.

I had coffee with a friend and mused when, if ever, a church in this country issued marriage licenses.

In an age when more and more people are not getting married in churches, or even by clergy, is this really a religious question? I know for myself, as a clergy, I have the right to respond in any way I choose when asked to do a ceremony. If two people are very young and just met last week I may well choose not to officiate, even though they have the legal right to marry. 

Each of us has the right to respond and vote as our personal beliefs guide us to do so. It is a time we may ask ourselves whose rights may be stomped on, and then, who will stomp on ours? Anytime someone believes they can tell me how to behave they are also opening themselves up to the scrutiny of others.

There is no doubt that our country was built on Judea Christian beliefs but there have been times when those beliefs ran amuck (I was raised close to the area of the Salem Witch Hunts.) There were heated discussions in many of the colonies about separation of church and state, the right to freedom of faith, and yet I’ve read statistics that say only about 25 percent of the colonists attended church.

Every one of us has a right to our own beliefs, (I emphasize they are our own,) not the right to insist there is only one way to live a moral and socially constructive life.

On this issue, as with any, I implore people to look into their own hearts and vote on their personal moral values; and while doing this ask if their vote will infringe on another’s human right?

Joe Niemiec
Joe Niemiec
The Rev. Joe Niemiec Jr. began his spiritual quest in 1986 when he walked out of a Houston jail and was struck by the realization that his life was in shambles. He began his quest for ‘getting back on track’ with 12 step programs, followed by learning and practicing meditation with a local Redding, California, teacher.

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11 years ago

Thanks for your thoughts on this, Joe — gracious and to the point!

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