With the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision effectively recognizing homosexual marriages, it does not take a rocket scientist to see that such a decision puts people with deeply held religious positions, including churches, in a very difficult position potentially. Can a church, for instance, refuse to allow its facilities to be used for homosexual weddings?
Over the past few months, many local churches have contacted Trinity Law asking how they can continue to fully and freely practice their religious beliefs, while not being in violation of the law – assuming that is possible.
We propose that churches need to adopt clear, integrated and pervasive policies. By that, we mean that the church needs to start by making sure their by-laws state, in clear terms, how foundational the principle of one man, one woman marriage is to their religion. Everything else flows from this document. With a clear statement in the church by-laws, the church can then adopt a well thought out, uniform process, typically using an application, which everyone wishing to use the church facilities will complete. The request for usage will then be reviewed in a uniform way and, if approved, the user(s) will be asked to enter into an agreement governing the terms of their usage.
If you need help reviewing your policies, or if you want help in drafting policies addressing By-Laws, Usage Applications, and Usage Agreements, please contact the church law attorneys at Trinity Law at 717-843-8046 or by visiting our contact page.