Indianapolis, IN - Events Local News Groups Contact
Hey there! If you stopped to read this, wow, you're awesome! And since you're that awesome, maybe you'd be willing to check out this super sweet, not-so-top-secret campaign to take Films For Action to the next level of awesome in our quest to change the world. All the details here. Cheers!
Federal Court: Indiana Must Allow Secular Celebrants to Solemnize Marriages | Center for Inquiry
By Paul Fidalgo / centerforinquiry.net
Jul 14, 2014

In a landmark victory for nonreligious Americans, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit unanimously ruled that the state of Indiana must allow marriages to be performed and solemnized by Secular Celebrants, such as those certified by the Center for Inquiry (CFI), the secular group that brought the case. 

In an opinion written by Judge Frank Easterbrook, the court recognized that for groups such as the Center for Inquiry, their belief system is “entitled to the benefit of the First Amendment’s neutrality principle, under which states cannot favor (or disfavor) religion vis-a-vis comparable secular belief systems.” Judge Easterbrook cited CFI’s contention that its worldview “is equivalent to religion except for non-belief in God,” and that “those who embrace that secular system want their own views to be expressed by celebrants at marriages, [and] the state must treat them the same way it treats religion.”

“This is a major victory for all secular Americans, who despite being part of the fasted-growing belief demographic in the United States, still suffer from discrimination and the special privileges accorded religion,” said Ronald A. Lindsay, President and CEO of CFI. “It is deeply satisfying that the judges of the 7th Circuit have recognized that nonreligious Americans are entitled to the same rights as religious Americans.”

“The court has gotten this exactly right,” lauded Reba Boyd Wooden, Co-Director of the Secular Celebrant program for CFI and Executive Director of CFI’s Indiana branch. “The secular humanists that I know hold their values as dearly as any religion person, and they deserve to be able to celebrate life’s great milestones in a way that reflects those values. Whether a person is atheist, agnostic, humanist, or simply doesn’t want a religious wedding, this decision means they can now have these wonderful occasions solemnized by a celebrant who shares their life-stance.”

The U.S. District Court in 2012 dismissed the case brought by CFI, calling CFI’s complaint a mere “inconvenience,” and asserting religions’ rights to special accommodations not enjoyed by those with secular world views. The case was appealed and argued before the 7th Court of Appeals in May of 2013. 

Addressing whether secular officiants should simply settle for obtaining “clergy” status through quasi-religious mail-order enterprises, or whether secular organizations should just refer to themselves as “religious” despite being explicitly nonreligious, Judge Easterbrook dismissed the idea, saying it would only serve to make hypocrites of nonreligious couples and groups. Judge Easterbrook rightly pointed out that the plaintiffs “are unwilling to pretend to be something they are not, or pretend to believe something they do not; they are shut out as long as they are sincere in following an ethical system that does not worship any god, adopt any theology, or accept a religious label.” Judge Easterbrook also denounced the contention that secular couples have their unions solemnized at a later date by a clerk of the court as suggesting secular celebrants preside over a “sham ceremony.”

CFI gratefully acknowledges the work Kenneth J. Falk, Legal Director of ACLU of Indiana, and the lead attorney on this case. Plaintiffs in the case are Center for Inquiry, Inc., Reba Boyd Wooden, John Kiel, and Michelle Landrum.

The full decision is available here.

0.0 ·
0
Featured Films
Plutocracy: Political Repression In The U.S.A. (2018)
440 min Plutocracy is the first documentary to comprehensively examine early American history through the lens of class. A multi-part series by filmmaker Scott Noble, Part I focuses on the the ways in which the American people have historically been divided on the basis of race...
Fall and Winter (2013)
102 min This stunning film takes you on a hypnotic journey, reaching to the past to understand the origins of the catastrophic environmental transitions we now face. Over two years, director Matt Anderson traveled 16,000 miles to document firsthand our modern industrial world and the...
War Made Easy (2007)
70 min War Made Easy reaches into the Orwellian memory hole to expose a 50-year pattern of government deception and media spin that has dragged the United States into one war after another from Vietnam to Iraq. Narrated by actor and activist Sean Penn, the film exhumes remarkable...
Trending Today


Love Films For Action? Become a Patron.

The goal is to go 100% ad-free by next year and become 100% member supported. Would you be willing to make a monthly pledge? A few dollars per month times the power of a few thousand awesome people will get us to where we need to be. Click here to join.

If you'd prefer to make a one-time donation, you can do that here. Many thanks!

Join us on Facebook
Federal Court: Indiana Must Allow Secular Celebrants to Solemnize Marriages | Center for Inquiry