Pastor Sandy Williams calls same-sex weddings an assault on religious freedom, since “religion is not just something practiced inside a church,”

He adds that those with religious objections might be forced to cater, photograph, DJ, etc., at gay weddings (Another View, “Civil marriage and religious marriage are one and the same,” June 22).

In a democratic, civil society, we all take part in things we don’t necessarily agree with. For instance, tax-exempt churches are indirectly subsidized by those of us who have to pay their share of, say, property taxes, so their clergy can weigh in on electoral politics. Congregants who donate tax-deductibly to the church are further subsidized by the rest of us who pay their share of income taxes.

The notion that marriage has remained unchanged through the ages is patently false.

Two obvious examples: Different races were forbidden from marrying in many U.S. states as recently as 1967, when the Supreme Court struck down anti-miscegenation laws in Loving v. Virginia; and many world religions (including some Christian sects) still practice polygamy.

Marriage, like any social institution, is constantly evolving. Basing our social policy on people’s religious beliefs may seem innocuous but is ultimately rather frightening.

We should, of course, use our religious, moral and spiritual beliefs to guide our political decisions, but any argument that starts and ends with “my religion says so” is theocracy, not democracy.

We as a society have always made reasonable accommodation for religious beliefs, but have never allowed them to be the central element in policy.

Some will not recognize marriage between a congregant and someone outside that religion — should we thus follow suit and make those unions illegal?

Ironically, I support an alternative that Williams might agree with — let’s get the state out of marriage entirely. Grant every couple, gay or not, a civil union, and let nonstate institutions like churches marry whomever they want.

Dan Kolbert is a resident of Portland.