Some boos, some ‘hallelujahs’ on Obama stand

One representative of the religious community said “Hallelujah!”

Another said the announcement indicated an ailing culture.

Reactions from clergy to President Obama’s statement that he believes same-sex marriage should be legal generally followed denominational beliefs on gay issues.

“I think it’s fantastic,” said the Rev. Jane Florence, pastor of First United Methodist Church in Omaha. “I think he (Obama) has struggled with the issue. It reflects the idea that people can learn and be transformed.”

On the other hand, the Rev. Curt Dodd, senior pastor at Westside Church in Omaha, said he was “disappointed that we have a politician trying to define morality from a governmental view.”

Dodd said the president’s endorsement “reflects the darkness of our culture that is self-focused rather than God-focused.”

“Hallelujah!” said Rabbi Aryeh Azriel, senior rabbi at Omaha’s Temple Israel. “Praise God! … I’m absolutely overjoyed. It’s about human rights.”

Pew Research Center polls show that among Catholics and white mainline Protestants, roughly half now indicate support for same-sex marriage. Fourteen percent of white evangelical Protestants favor same-sex marriage, according to Pew.

The Rev. Chris Alexander, associate minister of Countryside Community Church in Omaha, expressed support for Obama’s stance on same-sex marriage.

“The gay community should have the same rights as anybody under the law,” said Alexander, whose congregation belongs to the United Church of Christ. “It’s a legal issue, not a church issue.”

But Obama’s position drew concerns from the Archdiocese of Omaha and the Rev. Karl P. Ziegler, senior pastor at First Lutheran Church in Papillion, a congregation that’s part of the Missouri Synod, traditionally a more conservative branch of the Lutheran faith.

Ziegler said the president’s support “reflects an opportunity to secure a voting bloc.” Ziegler said he does not believe God condones same-sex marriage.

“My concern is that for thousands of years, we’ve defined marriage as between a man and a woman,” he said. “There is an arrogance to our age that says it’s time to do things differently.”

Deacon Tim McNeil, chancellor of the archdiocese, said: “We are disappointed. The definition of marriage was created long before there were any governments. Neither the church nor the state can alter the basic meaning and structure of marriage.”