It’s not Secretary of State Charlie Summers’ wording of the marriage referendum that is confusing, but the ideas proposed in the editorial “Our View: Full marriage questions should go to voters.” Maine citizens will vote on the civil and legal definition of marriage, so the question needs to be that simple. Renegade preachers and aberrant religious groups may want to conduct a “religious sacrament” they call marriage, but Maine voters are not being asked, nor should they be asked, to vote on those ideas and actions.

On the other hand, what the editorial calls “two notions of marriage” are not “distinct and independent.” Ministers have historically acted as agents of the state to record marriages. That’s because until less than a decade ago there was a common understanding of the nature of marriage — the coupling of a male and a female. Whether that happened in a church or a courthouse did not matter. The claim that there are two notions of marriage is the invention of those who want to impose their religious views on the entire state. Contrary to the claims in the editorial, the legalization of same-sex “marriage” really is a threat to religious freedom. While ministers may not be required to perform such pseudo-weddings, there is no protection for religious individuals who prefer not to be party to such an absurdity. Photographers, caterers, DJs, hotels, limousine drivers, teachers and others will be subject to loss of employment or legal prosecution for any conscientious dissent or refusal to participate.

Their freedom of religion is in jeopardy because religion is not just something practiced by a clergyperson inside a church or synagogue or mosque; religion is practiced by ordinary people in their everyday lives.

Kudos to Charlie Summers for a simply and clearly worded ballot question that is neither dishonest nor misleading.

Sandy Williams is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Freeport.