In what may come across as rather shocking, a 56-year-old pastor at the Christian Proctor Church in Vermont, USA, has been sentenced to one year in federal prison after refusing to marry gay couples.
This comes shortly after the Supreme Court’s ruling to legalize same sex marriages in all states.
NBC reports that Pastor Paul Horner had his lawyer speak to journalists on his behalf.
“We are currently disputing the guilty verdict and I am confident my client will be a free man here shortly. Horner was just using his best judgement according to his rights and religious freedom in this country,” said the pastor’s lawyer Tom Downey.
Addressing the pastor, Judge Myron Danus handed down the harsh sentence:
“Religious freedom goes both ways, Mr. Horner. It is not your place to deny individuals the same rights that everyone else has, rights that were passed down and agreed upon in a court of law, the ultimate court, the Supreme Court. It is not your decision whether or not you agree with the law but more importantly that you follow it and enforce it.”
The criminal investigation found out that the Christian Proctor Church is registered in the state as a “religious corporation” limited to performing “one-man-one-woman marriages as defined by the Holy Bible.” However, the church is also registered as a for-profit business; therefore, its owners must comply with state and federal laws.
Meanwhile, Steve Shand, the president of the Vermont Family Research Committee, wondered:
“Homosexuals are gay. Why should Christian ministers be forced to perform and celebrate any marriage that conflicts with their beliefs? It is a slippery slope my friend. Pretty soon these same pastors will be forced to wed animals or kitchen appliances. This is not my America!”
The former American president Jimmy Carter has thrown his weight behind the recent approval of same sex marriage by saying: “I believe Jesus would approve gay marriage, but that’s just my own personal belief.”
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