Same-sex marriage and the role of religion

The battle over the definition of marriage is also a battle to control religion's role in public discourse, said William C. Duncan at the annual conference of the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research. It also is a relatively new issue.

"Thirty years ago this topic of same-sex marriage … didn't really exist, certainly not as a mainstream legal topic or any kind of topic," said Duncan, the director of the Marriage Law Foundation and an attorney. "So we've seen a dramatic scene change over the past couple of years."

If the topic didn't exist 30 years ago, it certainly does today, and Judge Vaughn Walker's recent decision to overturn Proposition 8 in California underscores the debate over the proper role of religious organizations and believers in politics.

Duncan reviewed three criticisms of religious organizations related to the debate over same-sex marriage.

The first criticism was that churches should not be involved in public issues. Duncan said this criticism is highly selective. He gave an example of an organization that took exception to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' role in Proposition 8, but that also encourages churches' participation in other issues. Duncan said that if a religious organization supports the "right" progressive or social justice issues they are not criticized.

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