Bishop Opposed To Marriage Ruling On Impact On Religious Institutions In a 5-to-4 ruling, the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with Maryland Bishop Henry Jackson Jr., an opponent of the decision.
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Bishop Opposed To Marriage Ruling On Impact On Religious Institutions

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Bishop Opposed To Marriage Ruling On Impact On Religious Institutions

Bishop Opposed To Marriage Ruling On Impact On Religious Institutions

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Same-sex marriage is now the law of the land. Some, who are still opposed, are reacting and regrouping. The decision may raise new legal ramifications, including how making same-sex marriage legal might affect some religious institutions. The Bishop Harry Jackson Jr. is senior pastor at the Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md. He joins us now. Thank you very much for being with us, Bishop Jackson.

BISHOP HARRY JACKSON: Thank you for having me.

SIMON: I don't want to put myself in the position of telling people what you believe when you're right here, so why don't you tell us what your opinion is of same-sex marriage.

JACKSON: Well, at this particular point, I really feel the politician, the judges had failed the citizens of the District of Columbia years ago and now the greater nation. Only from the perspective that 50 million Americans had voted, and about two-thirds of those folks were for traditional marriage, and now we have the judges basically making decisions for us. I want to continue to stand for traditional marriage, but, certainly, we have to recognize that this is the decision of the highest court in the land and, this is the way we conduct ourselves with order.

SIMON: Bishop, President Obama, among others, has compared marriage equality to the Civil Rights Movement. Do you agree with that? Disagree with it?

JACKSON: Well, I disagree with it in one critical level. The hallmark of the Civil Rights Movement - and I'm an African-American - were, you had to have opportunity to get a job, a place to live, due process of law. I don't see that same level of opposition or prejudice as I look at the gay community. It's less of the crushing oppression that I've received, the Civil Rights Movement folks dealt with, in times gone by.

SIMON: We do have Justice Kennedy's decision here, and you might've read this section yourself where he says, the First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so essential to their lives and faith. Do you consider that enough protection?

JACKSON: Well, I think it's a start. But we have to understand that a Methodist church association in New Jersey lost property tax exemption status because it refused to allow their facilities to be used for a same-sex union. And there are a lot of other places where there's a blurred line, so I think there's a gray area - if I may say it that way - one that we're going to have to watch so that we can both maintain what the new laws are going to be, but protect the freedoms of people who want to practice what they believe their faith should be in a spirit of civility, justice and love.

SIMON: Bishop Jackson, I recognize that religious leaders don't necessarily pay attention or take their cues from public opinion polls, but public opinion polls do seem to reveal a dramatic generational difference on this, with many more young Americans being in favor of same-sex marriage. Do you have any concern that your position will make it difficult for you to communicate with people of a young generation?

JACKSON: No, I don't. We don't want hatemongers. We do want people to be true, to clear convictions and tenets that they believe are germane to their faith.

SIMON: The Bishop Harry Jackson Jr., senior pastor at the Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md. Thanks so much for being with us, Bishop.

JACKSON: Thank you for having me.

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