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Marriage and Religious Freedom — An Open Letter from Religious Leaders

January 12th, 2012
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Fundamental Goods That Stand or Fall Together An Open Letter from Religious Leaders in the United States to All Americans

Released January 12, 2012

Open letter and signatories found here. Here is a PDF copy of the statement: Marriage-and-Religious-Freedom-Letter-Jan-12-2012-4

Executive Summary

We, as representatives of a broad array of faiths, join together to affirm that marriage, the union of one man and one woman, must be promoted and protected for its own sake and for the common good. We also agree that redefining marriage will incur grave consequences, including a deleterious impact on religious liberty. Altering the definition of marriage will change not just one law but hundreds, even thousands, of laws. There will be government mandates, requiring the recognition and accommodation of so-called same-sex “marriages,” that pose a critical threat to institutions and individuals who for reasons of faith and conscience will resist the law’s compulsion. Cases involving criminal and civil penalties and the denial of grants and other government benefits are already occurring and will only increase in number and severity if more jurisdictions redefine marriage. The law not only will coerce and impose disincentives, but will also teach that religious objectors must be marked as if they were bigots. We encourage all people of good will to protect marriage as the union between one man and one woman, and to consider carefully the far-reaching consequences for the religious freedom of all Americans if marriage is redefined. May all of us work together to strengthen and preserve the unique meaning of marriage and the precious gift of religious liberty.

Signatories come from the following communities:

Agudath Israel of America

Anglican Church in North America

Assemblies of God

The Brethren Church

Bruderhof Communities

The Christian & Missionary Alliance

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Church of the Nazarene Conservative Congregational Christian Conference

Evangelical Free Church of America

Evangelical Friends Church, North America Fellowship of Evangelical Churches

The Foursquare Church

Free Methodist Church

USA General Association of General Baptists

General Council of Christian Union Churches

Grace Communion International

Great Commission Churches

International Pentecostal Church of Christ

International Pentecostal Holiness Church

Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod

Missionary Church, Inc.

National Association of Evangelicals

National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

North American Lutheran Church

Open Bible Churches

The Salvation Army

Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

United Brethren in Christ Church, USA

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America

Vineyard USA

The Wesleyan Church

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Categories: Culture
  1. MeToo
    January 12th, 2012 at 16:11 | #1

    The letters content and assertions are most correct. I regret that Bishop Mark Hanson can not seem to see the right in it based upon Scripture and not cultural whims that undermine society and not just religious beliefs.

  2. January 12th, 2012 at 16:48 | #3

    And then there are all the non-signers who are conspicuous by their absence.

  3. January 12th, 2012 at 20:08 | #4

    Can you tell me how this is connected to your letter; it is.

    Indiana Republicans Introduce Bill To Allow ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ To Be Required By Schools


  4. Ken Howes
    January 12th, 2012 at 20:21 | #5

    It cannot be stressed enough that other nations with supposedly strong traditions of free speech and freedom of religion have suppressed, at times almost brutally, religious opposition to homosexuality. Ministers have been prosecuted criminally in Sweden and Canada, supposedly very free societies.

    It should be remembered that the same Roman Empire that threw Christians to the lions was the source of the western tradition of law and due process, and that it tolerated almost every religion EXCEPT Christianity. In that Empire, the practice of homosexuality, condemned in unequivocal terms by St. Paul in his letters to the Romans and Corinthians, was common; most of the early emperors engaged in it themselves.

  5. January 13th, 2012 at 08:15 | #6

    This confirms the wisdom of Hillsdale College, which since its founding has refused any government grants, loans, or scholarships for the reasons stated above. Perhaps its time our Concordia University System follow the above, lest we find themselves in the same predicament.

  6. Jevon
    January 13th, 2012 at 10:19 | #7

    The reason scripture is noticeably absent in this letter is because the signatories don’t believe the same thing about what the Word of God says. The same God who spoke about marriage also speaks about baptism, original sin, The Lord’s Supper, gifts of the Spirit, women’s ordination etc. All items in which many of these churches confess heterodox and even heretical views. So I would applaud the non signers if this were the reason for their absence

    • January 13th, 2012 at 11:00 | #8

      Jevon, you are neglecting natural law, and the fact that these persons are all able, as religious leaders, to make their appeal to the American people under the First Ammendment of the US Constitution.

      And I can guarantee you that the lack of signatures by liberal mainline denominational leaders is all about the gay agenda, and nothing to do with sound theology.

  7. Jakob Valsson
    January 13th, 2012 at 12:21 | #9

    Paul, you are right to say that the gay agenda trumps all. Here in Canada it is safe to say that the leverage the gays have everywhere amounts to nothing else but public worship of their “rights and practices.” Anyone who says otherwise is immediately branded with the “bigot, fundamentalist, hater, etc., etc.” label and thus no true discussion can ever take place. It has simply been decided that the gays are right and anyone who says otherwise is simply wrong (and that is only if your are lucky, if not you may find yourself before a human rights tribunal). In fact, one may speak of a gay fundamentalism when this issue is broached, such is the fanaticism levelled against those who would publicly speak out against it. In my home country of Iceland a pastor friend of mine, who teaches in the public school system, was called aside and threatend with immediate firing if he would continue to speak out publicly against the gay agenda, something he has only done in church and in the media, properly covered under the free speech act. Suuposedly this was done in order to protect the “potentially gay” children in his classes. Yet when asked, no one could really say what “potentially gay” means or provide scientific evidence to back up such a claim. Everyone knows that the goverment was just cowtowing to the gay activists who would dearly love to see my friend crucified. The gay agenda trumps all (for now).

  8. Jevon
    January 13th, 2012 at 14:07 | #10

    I don’t have an issue with religious leaders making there appeal to the American people under the First Amendment. I am just speculating on why it is not a scriptural appeal. Certainly natural law can be used to defend the sanctity of marriage, life, human rights etc. However, my support of marriage, the union of one man and one woman would be based on a Christological perspective rather than simply natural law. But I guess natural law is the banner we can all stand under without getting all theological.

    • January 14th, 2012 at 06:08 | #11

      Jevon, why not just quote the Bible? Because believing in the Bible is a gift of the Holy Spirit, about which natural man knows nothing. Natural law, however, is imprinted on every human being’s heart. You do not have to be a Christian to understand the importance of marriage and in this case, the point of the statement was to express concern that first amendment freedoms are under assault as a certain agenda for marriage is being pushed.

  9. jk
    February 1st, 2012 at 02:12 | #12

    How can anyone talk about marriage and freedom while talking about license? License is permission to do that which is otherwise illegal and unlawful. Government has no place in the home, if it does you are not free!
    If people want to marry that is their right, you need no license.

    These people that spew out self righteousness and then demand only certain people are allowed a license are just screwed in the head.
    Their heads are so far up that they don’t realize that their own State marriage license gives the State ownership of their children! It’s a fact!
    Go figure….

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