The News on ChristianMingle
ChristianMingle.com, the largest online dating service for Christian singles, must now start allowing people to search for same-sex relationships. Under order by judge after losing a lawsuit, ChristianMingle.com has to forgo it’s niche as a Christian singles dating site. ChristianMingle currently only requires new users to specify whether they’re a man seeking a woman or a woman seeking a man.
The lawsuit was filed by two gay men as a class-action suit. It claims that the site’s parent company, California-based Spark Networks Inc., violated State law that requires businesses to offer “full and equal” accommodations and services to people regardless of their sexual orientation.
The faith-based dating site has two years to fully comply with the ruling and was ordered to pay the court costs involved in the suit, totaling almost a half-million dollars. The terms approved by a state judge Monday also applied to other Spark-owned sites that had operated in the same fashion, including CatholicMingle.com, AdventistSinglesConnection.com and BlackSingles.com, the Journal reported.
What it means for other faith-based dating sites
While DOTB is usually more progressive than other Christian sites, I personally find this ruling to be a problem. Not because I believe that same-sex marriage should be illegal but because we are now crossing the boundary of telling a faith what they are allowed to believe in and how they have to operate as a faith-based company. Religion and religious dating sites are voluntary, not compulsory. No one should force any religious site to include or not include regulations that are antithetical to it’s beliefs. If people don’t like it then they don’t have to join. It’s called freedom of religion. If you are thinking I sound narrow minded then let’s put the shoe on the other foot.
What if CatholicSingles.com was forced to allow dating options for Muslims? Obviously that would be a conflict of interest. CatholicSingles.com is designed for Catholics. If non-Catholics don’t like it then they can find a dating site for non-Catholics. What if atheistpassions.com (an atheist dating site) was forces to allow Christians to date on the site? Would that not be a bit silly? If Christians want a dating site then there are already sites for that niche dating category. Not every dating site needs to accommodate all people, that is why they are niche dating sites. Even Donald Trump supporters get their own dating sites and that is about as niche as it gets.
If the LGBT community really wants a Christian dating site then can they not start their own? Even the farmers have their own niche dating site (farmersonly.com). In a world where there is a dating site for every niche, there is absolutely no reason why anyone should be instructing the site on what they have to include on the site. Once that has been done then they are no longer niche.
In fact, Spark’s own mission statement makes it clear that they provide niche dating sites.
At Spark Networks, our mission is to create iconic, niche-focused brands that build and strengthen the communities they serve. We are a leading provider of community-focused services, including online personals communities for single adults that offer convenient and safe places to meet and, as a result, a unique opportunity to make special connections they may not have otherwise made.
I think the last thing to consider here is that dating sites are optional. Gay individuals are not obligated to use ChristianMingle. There are dozens of sites dedicated to the type of dating that includes gay Christians.
I would submit also that the business is California based and thus, have sewn themselves into a corner. California has laws that dictate how profit and non-profit companies must operate. Since Spark Network is not a tax-exempt or non-profit business they must comply to the California business laws. The key of this argument is around the California based law to offer “full and equal” accommodations and services to people regardless of their sexual orientation. If Spark Network were to attempt to maintain conservative Christian values then it will need to spin-off it’s religious based dating sites and qualify them for 501(c)3 tax exemption.
Once they are considered a religious entity and not a business entity then they can provide more definition as to how they interpret their own Christian faith. However, I do not see that happening anytime soon since Spark Networks is not a Christian company. In fact, their first dating site was JDate.com which was a Jewish dating site. So, I expect the company to fully comply with the California law.
I would also expect to see further pushes in the future for religious based companies to include accommodations for the LGBT community, regardless of their beliefs or 501(c)3 status.
[Featured image from www.nowtheendbegins.com]