We Don’t Like Your Clergy – PA Judge to Nullify “Thousands of Weddings”

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According to a USA Today article, a judge in York county PA recently re-interpreted state law to find that ministers lacking a “regularly established church or congregation” are unqualified to perform marriages. Now, couples who have been married by ministers ordained over the internet-based Universal Life Church, and who have filed the proper paperwork with the county are, sometimes years later, facing potentially invalid marriages.

State Rep. Katie True, a Lancaster County Republican who co-sponsored the bill, explains

“To me, if you want to perform marriages, you have to go to school and learn the teachings for the correct way to perform this extremely solemn ceremony,”

I mean really, you need what we feel is the right kind of clergy so your ceremony will be sufficiently “solemn”, otherwise you’re not married at all? Why does a wedding ceremony need to uphold other’s standards of godliness (“correctness”) in order to be legally valid? And why is this issue so upsetting that it needs to be corrected retrospectively?

This is an inherent problem of an institution being equally a religious and a legal matter. There is such a sense of personal attack when people consider marriage. if we allow two homosexuals to be married, what does that say about all marriage, about my marriage? After all, my god doesn’t like that… If your minister isn’t as devote as my minister, how can your marriage be valid? What does that say about all marriage? About mine??

The ACLU obviously recognizes a church-state issue and is considering action. MaryCatherine Roper, ACLU attorney in Philadelphia says

“Lots of clergy don’t have congregations but do other things, and to suggest that those are not
legitimate ministers is insulting and disregarding the religious work of any number of denominations.”

If the York county precedent holds in PA’s other 66 counties, the potential for legal and domestic dispute boarders on chaotic, with the legitimacy of thousands of marriages hanging in the balance. Yes, this issue really is that important.

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