A Charlotte Observer op-ed, a bunch of attorneys, and gay marriage. (Grab a seat. Get comfy. Pass the popcorn.)


An op-ed in The Charlotte Observer this past weekend has quite a few tongues wagging within Charlotte’s legal and political communities. David Jones, a Charlotte attorney and marriage amendment opponent, took Franklin Graham to task and put a new spin on the question “What would Jesus Do?

 Of course, we have another instance of an amendment opponent with a case of sour grapes poor-mouthing Christian amendment supporters. Gotta love that “tolerance.”

THAT article  motivated several members of Charlotte’s legal community — most notably, former US Attorney Tom Ashcraft — to chime in via email.  (Can’t imagine who got billed for all of this) :

Dear Mr. Jones:

Christianity is not as facile as you apparently believe (your column at http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/05/13/3234815/who-is-really-shaking-a-fist-at.html).  Jesus Christ came among us in history and the religion he left us has an objective content.  It does not change from generation to generation (cf. Hebrews 13:8).  If what God has revealed and done is subject to change by column-writing lawyers or anyone else in 2012 – a threshold issue raised by the thesis of your column – why would folks believe in the Gospel in the first place as it might change tomorrow? 

To see what historical apostolic Christianity has always taught about homosexual activity and marriage, applied to the recent debate in North Carolina, take a look at the attached sermon of Fr. Timothy Reid, pastor, St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Charlotte, given on May 6, 2012.

I especially call your attention to these words of Fr. Reid – in short, love the sinner hate the sin:

• One comment I’ve heard a number of times from opponents of the marriage amendment is that Jesus would never support it. Arguing from emotion, they hypothesize that since God is love, He would never deny two people who love each other the right to be married.

• But instead of emotionally hypothesizing what we feel Jesus might say or do in a given situation, I think it’s always a far better exercise look at what Jesus actually did and said!

• Jesus was always kind and merciful to repentant sinners, but let us not forget that He encouraged them to sin no more, as was the case of the woman caught in adultery.

• But to those who perverted the truth and who were obstinate in their sins, like the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus was harsh in condemning them, calling them a brood of vipers.

• So while it is true that Jesus loves us all despite our faults and imperfections, Jesus does not love our faults and imperfections. To the contrary, Jesus desires that we do our best to find healing for our faults and imperfections and avoid sin, and He gives us His grace to make this possible.

• There can be no doubt as to the Church’s teaching on homosexual activity. The Catechism states:

“Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered” (cf. CCC #2357).

• This means that in every situation, no matter what, homosexual acts are always evil. Therefore, out of a genuine charity for our brothers and sisters, we must not do anything that will encouragethem to fall into this sin.

• Supporting the notion that homosexual persons have a right to get married is an encouragement toward grave sin because it supports the idea that there’s nothing wrong with homosexual acts, and it support the idea that homosexual unions are analogous to the complementary and procreative union of a man and woman.

• This is a terrible lie, a lie that if believed, is destructive to individuals and toxic to our society.

Hope, Mr. Jones, you will move beyond your self-description as “a garden variety churchgoer who tries to pay attention” and dig a little deeper into the teaching, meaning, history, experience, and saints of the 2,000-year-old Christian church.  (Not sure which St. Martin your church on E. 7th Street is named in honor of, but St. Martin of Tours [316-400 A.D.] would be a commendable start, e.g., http://www.ewtn.com/library/mary/martin.htm.)  

Best regards.

Sincerely, Tom 

Wade Landis, an attorney with McGuireWoods,  added his two cents:

Mr. Jones:

Please don’t think that because I am copied on this email, that I agree with the approach of Mr. Ashcraft.  I think he must have forgotten to remove me from his email list after he criticized me for seeking to educate others on the legal issues of Amendment One in a Bar CLE and in my blog NC Amendment One Truth. In the course of his emails, he also suggested that I read an article by a Catholic priest.

You article was very thoughtful, in my opinion. One difference I see between you and Mr Ashcraft is that you have the honesty to say that you don’t know how Jesus would view gay people and Mr Ashcraft has the audacity to say otherwise.

He also presumes to have a special skill, like Franklin Graham, of knowing the mind of God. Like you, I don’t have that gift.

I realize that Mr Ashcraft’s next move may be to attack me in an email, trying to discern something from this email (whether accurate or not) that relates to his prior frustrations with me, but I could not sit on my hands and let you think that I support his email to you. 

Thank you for your perspective.  

Like you and me, Mr Ashcraft is entitled to his opinion, but he is not entitled to be judge and jury. That role is reserved for someone else.


Attorney David Bishop also jumped into the fray:


If you “don’t know the mind of God,” as you suggest, then how do you know Tom is wrong? Seems like you want it both ways.

Paul is clear on the subject of homosexuality.  Perhaps you are dismissing Paul’s statement and have determined, on your own, that Paul’s words are not the Word of God.  Or, maybe you are suggesting that our cultural view of homosexuality should trump the biblical witness.  You are certainly free to believe whatever you want to believe, but why not be honest and say that you reject the authority of scripture.  Or why not say that you are capable of discerning which passages of the bible constitute the Word of God—presumably only the passages that express Jesus’ “view of gay people.”  If that’s your view, isn’t that pretty audacious?

Surely you wouldn’t suggest that we can never know God’s will, would you?   And surely you wouldn’t suggest that God never speaks through men and women, would you?  Please tell me I’m not wasting my time reading the bible.

You and David Jones fall right in line with those who confuse loving the sinner with loving the sin. Yes, Jesus loved prostitutes but that doesn’t mean he loved prostitution.

Landis fired back: 


Tom is wrong, just as you are, to lecture other Christians on matters of faith.  He did it with David and now you’re doing it with me.  Thank you for telling me I am “confused” about Jesus.  

I didn’t ask for your religious advice and you are presumptive to provide it.  In fact, your email is insulting.  It sounds to me like you want to be religious judge and jury just like Tom.  

Maybe if you and your coalition work hard enough you can get the majority to vote a particular religion into our Constitution, so you can make every citizen believe like you, because you certainly can’t stand it if others disagree.  

I have no problem discussing legal issues with you, but keep your righteousness to yourself. 

Will Esser, with Parker Poe, entered the fray:


I was merely copied on this email, and no one has appointed me as moderator.  Yet might I respectively suggest that the issues being discussed are important ones which are worthy of calm and reasoned debate and discussion.  In my opinion, some of the language and personal statements made in the posts below are not conducive to such a discussion.

As I read it, the particular debate in this email string does not involve a legal analysis regarding Amendment One, but rather involves the question of the morality of homosexual acts and how the perspective on that question of morality informs an opinion on the subject of “same sex marriage”.  It appears to me from the posts thus far that this present debate is being held among a group of Christians.  I would therefore assume that a starting point for this discussion is the acceptance of the authority of the Bible as the divinely inspired word of God.  If that assumption is correct, then a fair discussion involves the interpretation and application of sacred scripture to the debate. 

If the parties copied on this email are interested in a reasoned discussion about Sacred Scripture and how it factors into the “same sex marriage” debate, I believe that is a worthwhile conversation, particularly as it appears we have parties on this email who share different opinions.  I have found such discussions helpful when all participants are focused upon discovering and learning the truth. Ultimately, such a debate may uncover that the parties have different perspectives on the manner in which Scripture can/should be interpreted and possibly even different perspectives on the reality of truth (objective / subjective).  No one may be able to convince any other person, but I, for one, believe that understanding where such differences exist is helpful and that such dialogue should occur amongst people of faith.  We are all travelers with the same hoped for destination.  

As said, I welcome a reasoned, non-personal discussion on this topic, but if the parties are not interested in making this such a forum, then I don’t believe that continuing this email string in its present form is likely to be productive. 

Former Charlotte city councilman Don Reid capped it all off:


I’m afraid the last clause in your last sentence is correct!  There are areas where compromise is a meaningful and productive solution.  This is not one of the areas—-that’s why it was taken to a vote last week.  We won, they lost!  But liberals never accept defeat because of the certainty of their intellectual prowess, which of course gives them the right to re-invent scripture and re-write moral definitions that have existed for thousands of years.  This allows them to ignore the intend of the founding fathers and change the bedrock foundations on which our country was built.  You can see it right here at home, in the crumbling of the Presbyterian Church,USA, which had 4 ½ million members 50 years and today has just over 2 million.  It’s happening to my beloved alma mater Davidson College (also Landis’) which just a few years ago changed the requirement that a trustee had to be a Christian and this very day is debating whether or not the college president must be a Presbyterian, a foundational requirement since the college was founded!  It’s all about the prideful liberal mind that has elevated itself to ‘god-like’ status.  It’s about tolerance and political correctness, which neuters the mind, clouds rational decision-making and promotes the acceptance of everything, with a devotion to nothing….except more liberalism, of course.  In short, liberalism is a religion that has supplanted that on which our country was founded and unless the growing pain, that is sure to come, brings people to their senses, it will destroy our country.  Debate all you wish about Amendment One, change all the laws about unions and marriage, you will not change the FACT that marriage is between a man and a woman!  Otherwise, even commonsense is dead!!