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Churches refusing to perform same sex marriages may be denied liability insurance

Churches refusing to perform same sex marriages may be denied liability insurance

And the piecemeal dismemberment on religious liberties continues.

Those fearful Obergefell v. Hodges could spell trouble for religious liberty were validated much sooner than anticipated.

Less than 48 hours after the decision was handed down, New York Times columnist Mark Oppenheimer called for the end of tax exemptions for religious institutions.

And the piecemeal dismemberment on religious liberties continues.

Now infamous for their intolerance of Christianity, Oregon continues to be ground zero for the Biblical Principles vs. Ideological Fascism showdown.

National Review’s David French explains an emerging problem for Oregonian pastors seeking liability insurance.

Churches, like virtually every functioning corporation, protect against liability risks and the potentially ruinous costs of litigation through liability insurance. With same-sex marriage now recognized as a constitutional right — and with news of Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries awarding a lesbian couple $135,000 in damages for “emotional, mental and physical suffering” after a Christian bakery refused to bake their wedding cake — pastors are reaching out to insurance companies to make sure they’re covered. And at least one insurer has responded with a preemptory denial: no coverage if a church is sued for refusing to perform a same-sex wedding.

While denying insurance coverage is not itself an encroachment of religious liberty, lack of protection is as much a problem; one that could easily sink any independent church that winds up the defendant of a complaint.

French continues:

On July 1, David Karns, vice president of underwriting at Southern Mutual Church Insurance Company (which “serve[s] more than 8,400 churches”), wrote an “all states” agents’ bulletin addressing same-sex marriage. It begins: “We have received numerous calls and emails regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriages. The main concern is whether or not liability coverage applies in the event a church gets sued for declining to perform a same-sex marriage.” Karns continues:

The general liability form does not provide any coverage for this type of situation, since there is no bodily injury, property damage, personal injury, or advertising injury. If a church is concerned about the possibility of a suit, we do offer Miscellaneous Legal Defense Coverage. This is not liability coverage, but rather expense reimbursement for defense costs. There is no coverage for any judgments against an insured.

In other words: Churches, you’re on your own. (National Review has tried to reach Mr. Karns and Southern Mutual’s corporate office, and they have not yet returned our calls.)

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Oh, PLEASE…!!!

This just opens a yawning maw of opportunity for a NEW insurance company, designed to serve churches that follow their doctrine, and provide them powerful defense against the totalitarians of the queer Collective.

This is the beginning of the end for morality, religion, freedom, and “doing the right thing” in this country.

Illegal immigrants are raping and killing our citizens. We’re negotiating with terrorists. Religious beliefs and institutions are being brought to their knees. Civil War history is being rewritten and erased. Police officers are being viciously prosecuted for doing their jobs. Playing the “race card” is common practice and accepted. Riots, looting, violence, and destruction are encouraged and approved activities. Carrying around a non-PC flag can get you called racist, can get you killed, can ruin your life, and can cause harm to your family, all under the disguise of being politically correct. The 1st and 2nd Amendments are nearing collapse. The media controls elections and pushes agendas/narratives (in other words, they don’t report news, they report ideas). There are more people on welfare today than ever before. White people are accused of all being racist due to their DNA. Refusing to conduct, or be a part of, a gay wedding will obliterate your career and livelihood.

And one of the most unethical, lying, corrupt officials in our country is all but assured to be the next President of the United States.

I’m sure I forgot some things, but everything I listed happened in just this year alone.

How did we fall this far, so fast?

    ecreegan in reply to Mr. Izz. | July 10, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    We didn’t fall this far this fast; you’ve only just noticed it.

    Partial-birth abortion. Late term abortion more generally. Women having multiple abortions. The scale of abortion in general. No-fault divorce. Unilateral no-fault divorce settlements giving no preference to the spouse who wishes the marriage to continue. Divorces affecting nearly half the marriages which occur (albeit, with the tendency for repeat divorces, less than half of the *first* marriages result in divorce.) Government subsides for never-married women raising children.

    Federal agencies creating regulations with the force of law, effectively writing federal law outside of Congress. Police officers having the legal right to lie to suspects. Prosecutors being absolutely personally immune to lawsuits even when they hide evidence that exonerates the defendant.

    None of this is new.

    I’m not Catholic, but if our country had a Catholic understanding of marriage (irrevocable, monogamous, requiring consummation and openness to children) I don’t think there would ever have been a major push for gay marriage. When the *only* requirement became one-man-one-woman, it was simultaneously more attractive to homosexuals and more of an insult that it was forbidden them.

    And Jesus was a lot more explicit about being opposed to divorce than opposed to homosexuality.

      DaveGinOly in reply to ecreegan. | July 10, 2015 at 9:46 pm

      The current problem with marriage arose because the state got into the process for the express purpose of dictating to people who could marry whom. (See Bill Whittle’s commentary on that subject here: If the state hadn’t interfered with a religious rite, gays would only have had to find a church willing to perform it for them, and there would simply have been no argument about whether or not it was “legal” because it wouldn’t be a legal matter, it would be entirely a religious matter. The civil authority would have had to recognize the unions, because to not do so would have been to interfere with religion. But having become involved in the process (in order to prevent interracial marriages), the process would have eventually had to submit to the concept of equal protection under the law, just as it did with respect to interracial marriage. Sooner or later, the state would have had to accede to the fact that even if it does have the authority to issue marriage licenses, it doesn’t have the authority to determine to whom it will issue them (sort of like shall-issue concealed carry permits).

      In particular, same-sex marriage has been derided as a recently-discovered right that somehow went unheard of for more than 240 years. This may be true, but the founders didn’t include a list of rights in the Bill of Rights because they knew that our rights were innumerable, it is impossible to list them all, and that some would be “discovered” (or at least claimed) in the future when they had never been raised before. (This finds an analogy in the 2nd Amendment’s guarantee of a right to modern arms, as arms technology evolves. As society changes, some subcultures will find their voices and will assert their rights as they were unable to do so when society operated to keep them silent.) More important is the fact that the government existed for about 80 years before it suddenly discovered the authority to dictate who could marry whom. I would think more people here would be concerned about suddenly-discovered government authority (like the authority to force us to purchase health care insurance), which expands government, than with a claim to a new or novel individual right, which expands liberty (and which the founders, in the Ninth Amendment, anticipated).

        civil truth in reply to DaveGinOly. | July 11, 2015 at 1:47 am

        Curious that while arguing in favor of creating a new right that “increases freedom” – for the couples, you at the same time argue for decreasing the freedom of other people, like the bakers, to utilize their gifts and talents for artistic expression (which is what a custom wedding cake is) – not only that, but also to fine them and drive them out of business and take away their house. Isn’t that use of state power a rather draconian way to resolve a conflict between freedoms. Surely any reasonable comparison of injuries would indicate that the Oregon ruling is egregiously disproportionate.

        Other factors to weigh include (1) SSM was not legal in Oregon at the time; (2) the bakers do not consider SSM to be a genuine marriage; (3) that for them to participate by using their God-given artistic skills to bake a SSM wedding cake would be a grave sin in their eyes.

        There was a time not so long ago when in the interest of civil society, people could agree to disagree, rather than the one riding a wave of political power acting to destroy the other’s life because the disagreement hurts their feelings. Curious how appeals to forbearance have become inoperative now that gays are currently in a position of punishing through coercive state action those who by their actions will not submit to the latest in a series of escalating demands for obeisance (if you see where things have moved in the past 30 years of so).

        Ragspierre in reply to DaveGinOly. | July 11, 2015 at 11:44 am

        Gawd, you’re an idiot, and I haven’t EVEN got the time to fisk all your blathering on this thread.

        You’re “reasoning” on rights is completely inverted. Seriously, dude, you should just rest if this is your best “thinking”.

        Ragspierre in reply to DaveGinOly. | July 11, 2015 at 12:59 pm

        JUST to start with global concepts and first principles…

        AS and WHEN written, the Bill Of Rights was intended to constrain…

        1. the States

        2. the people, as expressed via their republican government

        3. the central government?

        Where did this new right to “gay marriage” come from?

        What governments does it supersede?

        What rights of the people via their republican government does it stomp into the dust?

        See WHY you’re an idiot?

        ecreegan in reply to DaveGinOly. | July 11, 2015 at 1:52 pm

        It’s a lot more complicated than states got into the business of enacting requirements on marriage in order to forbid interracial marriages, though that certainly was one of the early things forbidden in America.

        Traditionally, a given geographical area had ONE legal religion. The Catholic priest could marry you in country A. Or the Anglican one in country B, or the Lutheran one in country C. Non-Christian clergy might have dispensation to marry *their own members only*, or might not.

        When religious toleration began – especially religious toleration of the “any Christian minister” type, as opposed to any of X major churches – it became more important for the state government to get involved. This wasn’t *just* a matter of exercising control; there were also certain abuses that were easier to perpetuate outside of a unilateral system.

        I dug around until I found a pre-Civil War Virginia act on marriage. It authorizes all active Christian ministers to perform marriages, requires them to post a bond, and puts in several requirements:

        No marriage could be enacted unless the participants had a lawful license OR the banns has been posted in both bride’s and groom’s churches for three Sundays (that is, a formal announcement of the upcoming marriage, written or verbal, must be made for three weeks.) The purpose of both was to ensure that there was no impediment to the marriage, giving members of the community (both communities if the two lived a distance a way) three weeks to find out the marriage was planned and object if there were any problems.

        It forbids incestuous marriages. (Including things we might not regard as incestuous today, e.g. a man and his stepmother.)

        Bigamy is punishable by death.

        Slaves and indentured servants could only marry with permission of their master.

        White men and women were forbidden from marrying negros or mulattos.

        Heiresses marrying without consent before they were fourteen were disinherited for the length of the marriage if they married without banns (a legal marriage could be contracted without banns via a pre-ceremony license); the marriage is valid, but they can’t use their property unless the marriage ends and their husband can’t inherit (though their children can.) Note that the husband controlled the property of the wife, so you were actually taking the property away from the man who married a twelve or thirteen year old. (Age of consent was twelve, apparently.)

        It as an additional offense to marry (or otherwise claim into custody) a woman of property whom you or a confederate had raped.

        It was a serious crime to remove a girl of under 16 from whoever had her legal custody and a more serious one to “deflower” her during that period.

        The racial provision perpetuates the racial prejudices of the day; slaves needing consent to marry perpetuates the slavery system of the day. But the provision about heiresses marrying before they were fourteen sounds like an entirely reasonable protection against something that might well be easier under a system where a Catholic priest in area A might not be in regular contact with an Anglican priest in area C.

Humphrey's Executor | July 10, 2015 at 2:10 pm

How would losing their tax exempt status adversely affect churches? If they’re doing it right, such as putting all “profit” toward charity, I don’t see how a church would have any profit to tax with or without tax exempt status. What am I overlooking?

    94Corvette in reply to Humphrey's Executor. | July 10, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    One major exemption, at least here in Texas, is from Property Taxes. Many times Churches are on property that is very valuable, their infrastructure likewise and paying taxes on these would be very expensive.

      NC Mountain Girl in reply to 94Corvette. | July 10, 2015 at 3:53 pm

      I can name dozens of churches and church properties that sit on very high value sites.

      In my hometown, St. Paul, Minnesota, named after the first parish in the area, the Cathedral is on a hill that looks down on the hill the State Capital Building sits on. The Cathedral also has a more impressive dome.

      Charlotte is far from a Catholic town but nestled on South. Tryon St. between Bank of America Center, Wells Fargo Center and the Charlotte Convention Center there is St. Peter’s Catholic Church. During the 2012 Democrat Convention the church was festooned with pro life banners.

    Disco Stu_ in reply to Humphrey's Executor. | July 10, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    For that part of exempt status I think you’re probably correct. And would probably work out okay for most churches.

    However: Expenses will go up if exemptions from property and sales taxes are also denied.

    And the largest impact probably on the revenue side. Our charitable gifts will no longer be deductible on our personal tax returns. If no tax benefits to us personally then 100%-out of-pocket net cash outlay, and many will give less.

    I personally will donate more if somehow our church takes the difficult but proper stand of DEFY on the #ComplyOrDefy choice coming up for all congregations soon.

Religious or political persecution are inconvenient (and worse) but if it were so effective I don’t believe as many modern perpetrators would go to such great lengths to try to appear as victims.

nordic_prince | July 10, 2015 at 2:35 pm

“emotional, mental and physical suffering” is such BS. The goal is not compensation for “wrongs suffered” – for crying out loud, it’s not even punitive: that is to say, the goal is not to punish, but rather to DESTROY ~

Do retailers have an obligation to sell firearms just because we have a right to arms? If a retailer sells firearms, can they be required to sell a particular brand or type of firearm? No and no. Then why should churches be required to provide the sanction of their religion to any particular type of marriage? SCOTUS ruled on same-sex marriage with respect to the civil authority of the States and their processes as they relate to granting marriage licenses. Church beliefs and functions are beyond the civil authority’s ability to direct.

If you have a State-granted driver license, it does not mean you can drive on someone’s private roads without their permission. Churches are “private roads” with respect to State-granted marriage licenses. Once you acquire the permission to get married, you need to find someone who will let you drive on their road.

    walkercolt44 in reply to DaveGinOly. | July 10, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    Do bakers have an obligation to sell a cake just because someone thinks they have a right to it? If a baker sells cakes, can they be required to sell a particular type of cake?

    According to courts in Oregone, YES and YES.

    Given that, then why do you think churches will NOT be required to provide the sanction of their religion? The bakers in question were not allowed the free exercise of their beliefs.

      Barry in reply to walkercolt44. | July 10, 2015 at 6:28 pm

      “Given that, then why do you think churches will NOT be required to provide the sanction of their religion? The bakers in question were not allowed the free exercise of their beliefs.”

      Geez, is the church a business? If yes, then they must serve everyone. If no, then they are not bound by the same rules.

      The church will not be required to perform same sex marriage. The church may not be able to issue a marriage license, so what? The church ought to stay as far away from the government as it can get.

      Besides, if the flippin* commie pope has his way there will no longer be any private business.

      *I’m being charitable today.

        Voyager in reply to Barry. | July 10, 2015 at 7:13 pm

        They will still be sued, and they will still have to pay for the bulk of the proceedings.

        Remember, right now the process itself is sufficient punishment, win or lose.

      DaveGinOly in reply to walkercolt44. | July 10, 2015 at 9:59 pm

      Yes, bakers who sell wedding cakes have an obligation to sell wedding cakes to anyone who cares to purchase one. They are operating under a state-granted license that requires them to serve their communities without discrimination. You can’t turn someone away because you have personal beliefs that you believe obligate you refuse your wares certain customers.

      Some ask – Why is it OK for Walmart to stop selling Rebel flag articles? I pondered that myself. Here’s the answer I came up with:

      If you make wedding cakes, you must sell wedding cakes to all.
      If you sell “Rebel” articles, you must sell “Rebel” articles to all.

      If you decide to not sell wedding cakes to some people, then you can’t sell wedding cakes to anyone.
      If you decide to not sell “Rebel” articles to some people, then you can’t sell “Rebel” articles to anyone.

      Bakers can decide to not sell wedding cakes to anyone, just as Walmart can decide to sell nothing “Rebel” to anyone. There is no conflict here. Walmart hasn’t decided whom not to serve, they have decided what not to sell. But once a licensed retailer has decided to sell something, they cannot then decide who will, or who will not, be allowed to buy it. (Although the state, by law, may do so – e.g. can’t sell cigarettes to minors.)

      DaveGinOly in reply to walkercolt44. | July 11, 2015 at 12:49 am

      I believe I already stated why I think churches can’t and won’t be required to abide by the same rules. The civil government’s authority over churches, and especially over their creeds, is extremely limited. If there’s a precedent for intrusion into a church ideology, it’s the prohibition on polygamy. IF the state can impose its authority upon a church with respect to polygamy, then it may be argued that it can do so with respect to same-sex marriage. I reject the latter, but that causes me to reject the former as well. You cannot eat your cake and have it too. You either admit government has the authority to make such intrusions, or you deny it has that authority. Whether you go with “admit” or “reject,” sometimes things will go your way, sometimes things will not – but you should choose one and stick with it, instead of wavering between the two so that outcomes favor your personal ideology. Picking one or the other and sticking with it is at least consistent.

      DaveGinOly in reply to walkercolt44. | July 11, 2015 at 1:01 am

      And the bakers in Oregon were not “(dis)allowed the free exercise of their beliefs.” They are still entitled to them in their personal lives. When someone opens a business, they aren’t dealing with the public in their personal capacities, but as the business in its capacity as a state-licensed artificial entity. That entity is subject to the rules imposed upon it by the state – rules that the owners volunteered to abide by when they asked for, and accepted, the business license that makes the business’s existence possible. None of this in any way affects their ability to adhere to their beliefs in their personal lives. However the business is not them, it is a separate and distinct entity and a creature of the state.

        Ragspierre in reply to DaveGinOly. | July 11, 2015 at 6:06 pm

        This is simply more idiotic twaddle.

        There’s no charitable way to describe it.

        heideleena in reply to DaveGinOly. | July 17, 2015 at 7:17 am

        I realize the comment I am replying to is from a week ago, but I’ll still ask: Would you sue a Muslim bakery for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a gay wedding? Would you sue a mosque for refusing to marry a gay couple?

    Phillep Harding in reply to DaveGinOly. | July 12, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    Such an excellent description of true “Fascism” (mass murder is not part of fascism, it’s part of a dictatorial gov’t).

    Oh, and (cough) “permission to marry”?????

“Less than 48 hours after the decision was handed down, New York Times columnist Mark Oppenheimer called for the end of tax exemptions for religious institutions.”


This is the second time you have referred to Oppenheimer’s article in a fundamentally dishonest way. Oppenheimer suggested removing _all_ tax exemptions – even for his friends, the left-wing controlled universities.

Cut it out.

    alaskabob in reply to gibbie. | July 10, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    Maryland, as a state, supported the Catholic Church in the early days and states were not under the Federal prohibition of forming a religion as in the Church of England. Fostering religious belief may be construed from the tax issue, but in not taxing, the government is keeping additional degrees of separation from religion. Present churches are at risk for their beliefs… from…. THE GOVERNMENT…. which is thus determining which beliefs to have.. i.e. L-G-B-T-m-i-c-k-e-y -m-o-u-s-e-….(from my TV mousekateer days). And in taxing under the present volumes of law… how is the Government not influencing belief?

Not A Member of Any Organized Political | July 10, 2015 at 5:17 pm

Welcome to the Church of Oppenheimer!

Sorry, but I think the headline is misleading. “Denied liability insurance” implies that none is available. Of course that’s not the case here. Rather, it appears that the act of refusing to marry a gay couple is currently not a covered risk.

I work some with insurance policies and coverage clauses, and the interpretation quoted in this article can be supported very easily.

This isn’t a case of insurance companies treating churches differently than before as a result of the Supreme Court decision. So the comparison of it with the call to take away tax exemptions for churches is not a good one at all.

Well, the churches should just call themselves tea parties and meet in people’s house on a rotating basis. That’s our tea party’s Plan B if we ever get really harassed.

Oh yeah, it’s also the way that Peter and Paul set up the first century churches. Jesus told them their bodies were the temple of God so there was no way they were going to use a building as a temple. Moreover, they were not the government’s favorite people so staying on the move was a wise behavior.

A tree fell on my car while it was in my church’s parking lot. The church’s insurance company called it “an act of God”.

    DaveGinOly in reply to gibbie. | July 10, 2015 at 10:48 pm

    That’s VERY funny. (That wouldn’t happen to be a Steven Wright joke, would it? But it makes me wonder – Can an atheist sue an insurance company for invoking a religious belief (the existence of god) upon him in order to deny his claim? An atheist would, of course, deny that any occurrence is “an act of god,” and that claiming that some acts are “of god” merely permits an insurer to escape liability for what are perfectly natural (not supernatural) events. (If you believe in a god who knows of every sparrow that falls from the sky, he certainly knows of every tree limb that falls. This does not mean that he made it fall.)

    However, if you postulate an omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent god, then everything becomes “an act of god” and insurance companies wouldn’t be liable for any claims. So by admitting some claims and denying others as “acts of god,” insurance companies are actually presenting a belief in a very particular god – one who is not omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. Why are they allowed to foist their beliefs in this god upon those who believe in another type of god, or upon those who believe in no god at all?

      Phillep Harding in reply to DaveGinOly. | July 12, 2015 at 2:50 pm

      My Biz Law prof used to just Luvvvv it when I asked him that sort of question.

      The best answer is “Law has it’s own form of logic”.

I’m sorry, but your flight of fancy here is Waaaay off the mark. “Act of God” is a term with a historical derivation that became standard in insurance policies, but has no religious connotation whatsoever for the companies or the insureds.

Check out
With Google and other search engines available, and resources like free online dictionaries and Wikipedia, there is no reason to resort to such speculation.

    gibbie in reply to Jradig. | July 11, 2015 at 12:49 am

    I presume you’re replying to DaveGinOly, our latest provocateur.

    All “act of God” means in this context is that the church had not done anything wrong which might have caused the tree to fall on my car. They didn’t. The tree wasn’t dead or diseased. Therefore there was no liability.

    My collision insurance paid for it.

    Insurance has specific limitations.

    But you have to admit it’s amusing.

    DaveGinOly’s thinking is not as deep as he thinks it is. Doctrinaire libertarians may find his arguments appealing, but I think most here are conservatives, including myself. Conservatives worship neither government nor lack of government. They consider freedom to be not the ability to do whatever one wants whenever and wherever, but rather conforming ones actions to reality.

    Reality is a religious concept in that ones view of it depends on how one answers the Big Questions: Who are we. Why are we here. How should we live. All human beings, including atheists, live according to their answers to these questions. All law is based on concepts of “the good” which are inherently religious. The claim that religious arguments should not be allowed in the public square is specious.

    I think the article below is as good a treatment as I’ve seen regarding the essential nature of marriage, but I doubt it will convince DaveGinOly.

“Church, church, church, church…”

How ’bout “mosque”?

No word from the Gay Left on that.