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Judge Wright Allen’s faith

Timothy Kincaid

February 15th, 2014

It seems that those who oppose equality had reason to hope that Judge Arenda Wright Allen would rule in defense of Virginia’s constitutional prohibition of same-sex marriage. A profile in the Washington Post reveals her to be a very religious woman:

When Wright Allen testified about her career before the Senate Judiciary Committee, she brought her pastor from the 300-year-old First Presbyterian Church in Norfolk. Besides her husband, Delroy Anthony Allen, the prospective judge said the Rev. Jim Wood was “probably the closest man in my life.”

“I first have to thank God, because it’s clear to me that if it weren’t for him, I would not be here,” Wright Allen said then.

And the First Presbyterian Church in Norfolk is so staunchly opposed to equality that they’ve made it a tenet of their faith:

Regarding Issues Debated in the Church

In 2001, 2009 and again in 2011, the Session of First Presbyterian wrote and affirmed the following three tenets:

1. Jesus Christ is Lord God of all and the only way of salvation.
2. The Holy Scripture is God’s revealed Word, the only infallible rule for faith and life.
3. God’s people are called to holiness in all aspects of life. This includes honoring the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, the only relationship in which sexual activity is appropriate.

We require that judges separate their religious beliefs from civil law. Yet, as judges such as Antonin Scalia illustrate, the chasm between law and religious beliefs about law can sometimes be narrow. And within her ruling she honors the “faith-enriched heritage” of Virginia’s laws.

But Wright Allen rightly found the separation between religious beliefs about how society should be and the constitutional rights of those who disagree with her church’s position. Which makes Wright Allen’s forceful ruling the more powerful.



Mark F.
February 15th, 2014 | LINK

As a Presbyterian, she also believes her opinion was predetermined by God, and must be God’s will.

Ben In Oakland
February 15th, 2014 | LINK

Really? So free will is a myth? Wow! Who knew.

February 15th, 2014 | LINK

Yep. The Puritans thought the same thing.

Paul Douglas
February 16th, 2014 | LINK

I wouldn’t characterize the chasm between Scalia’s romanist religious beliefs about law and the law as narrow.
Nonexistent would be a better term.
(I could have called him Fat Tony, but I didn’t).

February 16th, 2014 | LINK

I will be interested in learning how her particular church treats her over this ruling.

February 17th, 2014 | LINK

I will call him Fat Tony. And frankly, I think he really wants to be Pope–not a “mere” SC Justice. But he obviously wasn’t committed enough to be celibate (guess a few hundred years ago, he might have been able to ignore that whole celibacy thing). So he does the next best thing, use his religion to make decisions (except when the death penalty and the poor are concerned).

February 17th, 2014 | LINK

Mark, I’m not sure that she would be wrong, considering the number of Judges appointed by Pres George “lets make a constitutional amendment against gays marrying” Bush that have been ruling in our favor. Now we have a Judge from a homophobic church supporting us. Either there is a great deal of coincidence, or there is a god with a great deal of humor making sure that otherwise irreproachable Judges are the ones that set his LGBT children free.

February 17th, 2014 | LINK

…likes Nathaniel’s comment.

Mark F.
February 18th, 2014 | LINK

@Ben Yes, Presbyterians deny free will. They are Calvinists who believe God has predetermined who will go to heaven, and you can’t do anything to change it.

Chris McCoy
February 19th, 2014 | LINK

Ben In Oakland said:

Really? So free will is a myth? Wow! Who knew.

Free Will has long been a point of contention among religious doctrines. Calvinists believe that an all-knowing, all-powerful deity already knows which choices you’ll make (by definition).

Most New Atheists, such as Sam Harris don’t believe in Free Will either.

Buddhists, rejecting the idea of Agency required by Western Philosophy (ie, in order for there to be Free Will, there must be someone [the Agent] to make a choice), similarly reject Free Will.

Ben in Oakland
February 19th, 2014 | LINK

I know. It all just goes to show that the ultimate answers to ultimate questions ultimately don’t matter.

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