Proposed church state marriage ceremony split

Two surveys of American views show a preference of the church having nothing to do with civil marriage.

A survey of 2,000 American adults, the Nashville-based Christian research company found:

  • Nearly six in 10 Americans (59 percent) say marriage should not be “defined and regulated by the state.”
  • Nearly half (49 percent) say “Religious weddings should not be connected to the state’s definition and recognition of marriage.”
  • About a third (36 percent) say clergy should “no longer be involved in the state’s licensing of marriage.” More than half (53 percent), however, disagree.
  • Those most likely to favor a split between religious weddings and government or civil marriage include 54 percent of men, 53 percent of Catholics and 45 percent of Protestants.

A LifeWay survey of 1,000 Protestant ministers found 25% favoured separating religious rites from a government-issued marriage license.

The LifeWay survey found the rapid expansion of gay marriage in 35 US states spotlights the tension between religious and state views of marriage.

However, conservative Archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, last month told the Catholic Bishops’ Conference that Catholic priests might consider opting out of certifying civil marriages as a sign of “principled resistance” to growing legal recognition of same-sex marriage.

“It’s hard to see how a priest or bishop could, in good conscience, sign a marriage certificate that merely identifies ‘Spouse A’ and ‘Spouse B,'” Chaput said in his prepared remarks.

Last month, the traditionalist magazine First Things launched a campaign for clergy to pledge to stop signing marriage certificates. So far, more than 330 clergy have signed the pledge.


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