So, Who’s Getting Married in New Jersey?
                                                 by Stephen Parelli

    There’s only one way that Civil Union will ever mean
    Marriage.  Ask banished Roger Williams, founder of Rhode
    Island, he’ll tell you. It’s simple.  If the New Jersey
    legislature votes for gay civil unions the marriage is simply
    this: the Magistrates of Trenton will have officially decided to
    be at long last married to the Evangelical Religious Right
    who has been courting the state for legal sectarian
    recognition since the days of the Moral Majority.  The
    Evangelicals unashamedly desire to be excluded from the
    First Amendment restriction of no marriage between the
    church and state.  They want to be married to Trenton and
    to as many other state capitals as possible.  They want to
    maintain their heterosexist elitism (Rogers, 2006, pp 96-98) by
    means of a political-religious marriage of church and state
    (White, 2006, p125).  And now the day has come that New Jersey
    must decide.  It’s either wedding bells for gay couples or the
    marriage of the Trenton Magistrates to Evangelicals.  Either
    way someone’s getting married.

    But you may argue, “Isn’t that the point of Civil Unions, a
    compromise?”  The argument is this:   Trenton can tip its hat
    to Evangelicals by giving equal “marriage rights” to gays and
    calling it Civil Union,  thereby keeping the valued "currency"
    that the word "marriage" psychologically and socially holds
    fully invested in the heterosexual sector.  By doing this,
    Trenton can, in the name of great politics, pride itself in
    modeling tolerance.  After all, isn’t tolerance the American

    Not exactly what the banished Roger Williams of 1635 would

    The following quote (Adams, 1982, pp 89-92) is very timely and
    much needed.   It comes from a lecture given over 150
    years ago by a Baptist minister to his Caldwell, New Jersey,
    congregation.  He wanted them to understand the banished
    Roger Williams’ teachings on religious liberties.  

    “Many consider toleration to be synonymous with
    religious liberty.  It isn’t. Toleration is the allowance of
    that which is not wholly approved.

    If the right to tolerate exists in man, then the right to prohibit,
    and to dictate to the conscience must also exist with it, and thus
    toleration becomes merely another name for
    oppression.  Baptists have always strenuously contended
    for the acknowledgment of this principle, and have
    labored to propagate it.”  

    “Civil Union,” therefore, with all the “rights of marriage”
    without the title of “Marriage” is “the allowance of that
    which is not wholly approved” and therefore “becomes
    merely another name for oppression.”  It's an historic
    Baptist principle.  As irony would have it, the Evangelical
    Religious Right are, for a sizable part, Baptist in name or in

    According to professor emeritus of history at the University
    of California, for Roger Williams (who is often referred to as
    the founder of the First Baptist Church in America), "liberty
    was more than toleration, freedom more than a
    concession"  (Gaustad, 1991, p.196).

    Civil Unions for gays and lesbians is not freedom, it is
    toleration; marriage is equality and therefore freedom.  Civil
    Unions for gays is a concession; it is not civil liberties.  (Myers
    and Sansone, 2005, p.) This is what every New Jersey legislator
    needs to tell the religious conservative of his or her district.  
    It needs to be said simply because this principle comes right
    from the very religious heritage that the Religious Right
    wants to uphold and maintain which, therefore, puts them
    on the horns of a dilemma:  They can't deny homosexuals
    their civil liberties by denying them marriage and at the
    same time uphold their religious heritage.  Not if they stand
    squarely with the esteemed, banished Roger Williams.

    Since the Magistrates of the Bay Colony of Massachusetts
    were legally, once and for all, solemnly married to the
    Evangelicals of their day, Roger Williams, by Court order
    (1635), had to take his dissenting beliefs and forever
    remove himself from the colony.  Lucky for us.  His
    banishment gave the world religious freedom (Gaustad, 1991,
    p125).  Did you know that the Magistrates of the Bay Colony
    and Rev. John Cotton, the Evangelical Boston preacher of
    his day, condemned Williams’ ideas of liberty as direct from
    the devil himself (Fish, 1983, pp 57-59)?  They said his ideas
    were a threat to the very foundation of the settlement and
    prosperity of the Bay Colony  (Gaustad, 1991, p).  How ironic.
    Evangelicals are saying the same thing today of
    homosexuals (White, 2006) with the same intent of banishment
    – not from a state, but from an institution - the institution of

    There’s a wedding coming in New Jersey and all of America
    is invited. Only we don’t know yet who’s getting married.  
    Either the church to the state or same-sex couples to one
    another (as it should be). Let’s hope Trenton chooses liberty
    over toleration and gay marriage over Evangelical
    sectarianism.  And there is hope!   After all, Massachusetts,
    the onetime colony of civil Magistrates who enforced
    ecclesiastical laws, wans’t about to make that mistake again
    when it came to same-sex marriage in the 21st century.  
    Yes, marriage bells are ringing in the good old Bay Colony
    for gay couples. Why?  Because there was, some time ago,
    a much needed divorce in Massachusetts.  The marriage just
    wans’t working . . . So the state divorced the church.  That’s
    right; the state-church marriage was dissolved in 1833.  Just
    as it should be.  Ask Roger Williams, the great defender of
    individual liberties for everyone.  He’s no longer banished
    from Massachusetts.

    Stephen Parelli, ThB, MDiv
    Executive Director of Other Sheep and
    Former Pastor of the Faith Baptist Church of Sparta, New Jersey
    Written October 26-27, 2006, Bedford Park, Bronx, New York.
This is an
Other Sheep
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Visits to this web page since Oct. 2006
     Go to
“Liberty was more than toleration, freedom more than a concession.”  
-  Edwin S. Gaustad, Professor Emeritus of History, University of California;
from his book
Liberty of Conscience:  Roger Williams in America
References to "So, Who's Getting Married in New Jersey?"

    Adams, Rev. John Quincy.  1982.  Baptists: Thorough Reformers.  Rochester, New York:  Backus Book
    Fish,  Henry C.  1983.  The Price of Soul-Liberty and Who Paid It.  Rochester, New York:  Backus Book
    Gaustad, Edwin S. 1991.  Liberty of Conscience:  Roger Williams in America.  Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans
    Publishing Co.
    Myers, David G. and Scanzoni, Letha Dawson.  2005.  What God Has Joined Together:  The
    Christian Case for Gays Marriage.  New York:  HarperCollins.
    Rogers, Jack.  2006.  Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality:  Exploding the Myths, Heal the Church.  
    Louisville, Kentucky:  Westminster John Knox Press.
    White, Mel. 2006. Religion Gone Bad.  New York:  Penguin Group.

Plaintiff Couples in New
Jersey Marriage Lawsuit
Lewis v. Harris
above photos
Plaintiff Couples
in New Jersey
Marriage Lawsuit
Lewis v. Harris

For New Jersey residents

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   "So, Who's Getting Married in New Jersey?"
    related books  
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A Gay Apostle’s
Queer Epistle for a
Peculiar People:
Romans 1:24-27 in
its context

Rev. Dr. Tom Hanks
Other Sheep

And Other Related
Writings of Rev.
Dr. Tom Hanks
     Go to
attempt to
power over
our nation -
church and
alike -
[is] the
ultimate sign
gone bad

Religion Gone
by Mel White,
p 125

In the early days of the Religious Right’s Moral Majority movement of
the 1980s, Dr. Rembert Carter, at the time Professor of History of
Baptist Bible College of Pennsylvania, in the 1983 Preface of the
reprint of
Henry Clay Fish’s 1860 treaty on Soul Liberty, wrote . . .

“Many modern fundamentalist leaders have continued to drink at the theocratic well [of] John Cotton [of
Massachusetts Bay (contemporary theological and political opponent of Roger Williams)].  [John Cotton] equated
the American experiment with the Old Testament economy of Israel in order to erect a modern counterpart of
Manifest Destiny.  Our [nation's] founding fathers separated church and state [under the influence of men like
Roger Williams].  [Since our nation's founding], ideas of
civil religion have persisted.  [Today, Baptists and others]
are caught in
the theocratic web of modern Christian political activism.  It is time Baptists did some serious
thinking about this great principle of soul-liberty, independent thinking which is not encumbered by four hundred
years of theocratic Protestant tradition. Although Baptists were condemned by Protestants [during the
Reformation], yet today [Baptists] are behaving like the Reformers in many current church-state activities.  The
Baptist denomination has been the only denomination in all of church history to have consistently denied
the use of
magisterial force to accomplish spiritual ends
.  Only in modern times has this principle been called into question.”  
(Dr. Rembert Carter, From the preface to the 1983 reprint of
The Price of Soul-Liberty And Who Paid It by
Henry C. Fish, originally published in 1860, p. ix-x )
"Civil union implies
toleration of something
connotes full societal
Civil unions
provide limited rights.  
Marriages, straight and
gay, enjoy equality of
Civil unions are a
form of "marriage lite"
and a boost to the
movement.  Marriage
marriage as
an institution."

What God Has Joined
by David G. Myers and
Letha Dawson Scanzoni,
page  119
This article has
been published in

Nov-Dec 2006
(an online
magazine for the
LGBT Christian


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