Case against Wyoming judge has frightening perspectives – not only for Christians
Who would have thought that it would happen so fast?
The first legislative step in the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany was the “Decree for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service” of 1935, which prohibited Jews from serving as civil servants. Just a few years later, Jews would be systematically slaughtered in what had previously been a highly civilised society.
It would probably be an overreaction to expect that this is what Christians in the United States have coming to them; it is, however, noteworthy that the first steps of government persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany were so similar to steps that are now being taken against Christians here in Wyoming.
In Mid-August Judge Ruth Neely of Pinedale, a member of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Pinedale, will appear before the Wyoming Supreme Court. She is facing being barred from any and all positions in the judiciary of Wyoming – for being of the Christian faith.
In late 2014, Judge Neely was asked by a reporter from a local newspaper whether she was excited to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. She replied that because of her religious beliefs, she would “not be able to do” same-sex marriages.
In March 2015 the Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics filed a complaint against Judge Neely seeking to have her removed, not only from her part-time position as a part-time Circuit Court Magistrate, in which she has the authority to solemnise marriages, but also from her position as a Municipal Judge, in which she does not. The Commission is arguing that not only Judge Neely’s unwillingness to perform same-sex marriages, but also her religious beliefs in themselves, make her unfit for service. The implication is clear: it cannot be tolerated that a person serving as a judge is a Christian!
This should be a frightening perspective for the future, not only for Christians and other religious or non-religious people who believe that a homosexual union is by nature something other than a marriage, but for all who enjoy the notion of a free society in which people of all kinds of faith can live together in peace. And it might be worth taking a lesson from history as to how rapidly a civilised society can turn into one where intolerance and hatred against a selected segment of society is not only the cultural mainstream, but also official government policy, carried out in ways that hardly anybody could have even imagined just a few years earlier.
Pastor Jais H. Tinglund
South Big Horn Lutheran Parish