140636188A postscript on Saturday's performance of "8": Martin Sheen, who appeared as Ted Olson, also is a well-known devoted Catholic. After the performance, I asked him how he reconciles his religion with support for same-sex marriage rights. The Catholic Church, which opposes same-sex marriage, supported the campaign for Prop 8 in California.

"My religion's highest standard is conscience. Nothing can get between your conscience and God, not even the church, because for 2,000 years, my church has been lifting up as exemplary various men and women in their lives who have served as inspiration to all of us over the centuries, and we call them saints. By canonizing these people who we believe have lived exceptional lives, we declare, or the church declares, that they are in heaven, that they are with God. And yet over the same people of time, the church has not condemned a single soul to hell because it does not have the authority. It does not even have the authority to condemn Hitler. There is no authority in the church and that has never changed, and it cannot change otherwise they lose their authority. They do not have the authority to condemn anybody. They can't say anybody is in hell. That is between [that person and] God. The church is not God.

6a00d8341c730253ef0168e8763768970c"The church is a conduit, and it is a spiritual journey, but it is not the end of the journey. Our lives are about living honestly in the community, serving each other. We carry our faith outside the church. The church is an institution, primarily of men, at least they are the major authorities. And so they are flawed,obviously. And so they are not authorized from preventing any member from following their conscience no matter what that is. You can't get between a person's conscience and their God. Nobody can do that."

Update: The benefit performance raised $2 million for the American Foundation for Equal Rights.

Photos: WireImage, AFER.

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