An atheist couple from Virginia has accused a local court-appointed officiant of refusing to perform their marriage ceremony, citing their lack of faith in God.
After Morgan Strong and Tamar Courtney contacted Franklin County Courthouse for an officiant to oversee their marriage ceremony, Bud Roth was appointed to the couple. Reportedly, Roth asked the pair about their religious denomination and upon discovering they are non-believers, opted out of performing their ceremony.
Shocked, the couple contacted The Friendly Atheist and wrote about their experience on social media. Additionally, Strong called Roth back to record his reason for denying services to the couple. According to the recording, Roth says he cannot marry the pair because Courtney is agnostic and Strong is an atheist and neither of them believe in God.
“That's my decision. I'm not judging you. I just don't marry anyone who does not believe in God [or] believes that there is a God someplace. So I'm not going to talk the issue over with you and I'm not going to argue about it, okay? I'm just not going to marry you. Correct?” Roth is heard reiterating.
Even though the couple claims not to be offended with Roth’s decision, they argue that he should not have the right to deny a wedding based on religious affiliation, as he was appointed by the court. According to a clerk at Franklin County though, Roth has the right to deny service based on belief, especially since the couple were offered two officiants to choose from – one that performs religious ceremonies and the other that performs civil ceremonies.
“I don't know if they told the staff that they did not want a religious ceremony or not. Judge William Alexander said this was Roth's belief and there was nothing wrong about that,” read the email from the clerk.
However, Strong and Courtney have now opted for the other officiant who has agreed to perform their marriage ceremony on June 9.
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