What do the two Wednesday Supreme Court rulings mean? Well, at one level, they mean my Facebook newsfeed has been very monofocused for the last 24 hours. But do they presage a coming schism in the Catholic Church? A demon-run totalitarian state? “The inevitability of bestiality”? It all depends on who you follow on Twitter, my friends. Let’s take a look:
Elizabeth Scalia predicts this is the start of a major crackup in American Christianity: “Civil unions (which I support) will not be enough. I suspect the churches to quickly be expected to conform to the zeitgeist or (first) lose tax-exempt status, and (later) face more sever retribution if it continues to be stubborn. Eventually, we’ll see schism and the quick establishment of an American Catholic Church, which will thrive, because everyone will feel good about themselves within it and no one will risk anything by sitting in its pews. Period, full stop.”
The Rev. Dwight Longenecker, an evangelical-turned Anglican-turned Catholic priest, predicts heavy duty “1984″ stuff on the horizon: “The mass media are lined up with the powers of the state to promote the agenda of the Culture of Death in a way that will over ride all democratic processes to impose the Culture of Death on all citizens. With ‘executive orders’ avalanching from the White House, with increased surveillance and increased domestic police powers, and fueled with this rage, I’m scared. It will not take much at all to tip over into a secular totalitarian state with an aggressive Culture of Death agenda.”
(Why are the words “executive orders” in quotes? I don’t know.)
Attorney Gabriel Malor predicts that religious institutions per se are much less likely to see effects from these decisions than private businesses: “To the folks worried about religious liberty, please for the love of Pete, turn your attention to public accommodation laws. That’s where religious liberty is vulnerable because public accommodation laws do not treat businesses as religious. The florist and the community center were sued not under marriage laws, but under public accommodation laws. In the famous florist case, and the beach pagoda case, those states didn’t even have (and still don’t have) gay marriage.”
Rand Paul thinks Republicans should agree to disagree on gay marriage (read as: “Helllllooooooo swing voters! I’m eyeing 2016 and trying not to scare you away!”).
The reliably clear-eyed Albert Mohler is not talking about demon governments or breakaway Catholic sects, but about the next big court case on gay marriage: “It is virtually impossible to exaggerate the future impact of the DOMA decision, but it is not yet a new Roe v. Wade. Instead, it sets up a future legal challenge from any citizen in any state that does not have legal same-sex marriage. The Court’s decision in that future case, surely not long in our future, will be the new Roe v. Wade – a sweeping decision that would create a new “right” that would mean the coast-to-coast legalization of same-sex marriage. Today’s decisions do not take us there, but they take us to the precipice of that sweeping decision.”
There are good reaction roundups here, here, and here, from all across the spectrum, including the “inevitability of bestiality” guy. Generally, I think Mohler is closest to the mark: while DOMA is a big deal (though, as Mohler points out, the court left in tact the provision of the law that allows states without gay marriage to refuse to recognize gay marriages performed in other states), it is not The Big Deal; that’s going to happen sometime in the presumably near future.