Evangelicals, Catholics, Join Mormons & Muslims Seeking Religious Freedom

As Supreme Court hears same-sex marriage arguments, inter-faith leaders call for civility and respect for their religious freedoms.

Today the US Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments about the rights of states to define marriage as between a man and a woman. Some people expect that the court will legalize same-sex marriage in all fifty states.

All of us as Americans need to learn a new civility towards those who disagree with us.

The rapid pace of legislation and court decisions legalizing same-sex marriage in many states has raised many concerns about the religious freedoms of those who observe the traditional view of marriage being between a man and a woman.

Last week an inter-faith group of 30 religious leaders representing national bodies of Evangelical, Catholic, Mormon and Muslim religious associations,  published a letter calling for “renewed respect for religious freedom and for the conscience rights of all” even as they committed to love “all those who disagree with us on this issue.” The religious groups represented by the signers hold the belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

“As evangelicals, our beliefs about marriage, and ultimately about our sexuality, begin by recognizing that we are all created in the image of God, and that is what draws us to love even those who disagree with us,” said Carl Nelson, President of Transform Minnesota, a regional evangelical network whose membership includes many congregations represented by various denominations who signed the letter. “Clearly society is moving towards acceptance of same-sex marriage, yet as evangelicals we believe God teaches us through the Bible that marriage is between a man and woman,” Nelson continued.

Religious Freedom Gavel“All of us as Americans need to learn a new civility towards those who disagree with us,” says Nelson. So even as we experience society’s animosity towards us for adhering to our religious beliefs, we need to respond gracefully and with love towards those who disagree with us. That commitment was a main point in the letter from this inter-faith group of leaders.

One of Transform Minnesota’s key initiatives is focused on creating resources and learning opportunities to help evangelical leaders communicate a Biblical vision of human sexuality. To read more about our approach to this idea of “holy” sexuality go to transformmn.org/marriage.

An Open Letter from Religious Leaders to All in Positions of Public Service

Dear Friends:

At this significant time in our nation’s history with the institution of marriage before the United States Supreme Court, we reaffirm our commitment to promote and defend marriage — the union of one man and one woman. As religious leaders from various faith communities, we acknowledge that marriage is the foundation of the family where children are raised by a mother and a father together. Our commitment to marriage has been expressed on previous occasions, including the Letter of Shared Commitment and Letter on Marriage and Religious Liberty. This commitment is inseparable from affirming the equal dignity of all people and the necessity of protecting their basic rights.

The state has a compelling interest in maintaining marriage as it has been understood across faiths and cultures for millennia because it has a compelling interest in the well-being of children. Every child has a mother and a father, and every child deserves the opportunity, whenever possible, to be raised by his or her own married mother and father in a stable, loving home. Marriage as the union of a man and a woman is the only institution that encourages and safeguards the connection between children and their mother and father. Although this connection cannot always be realized and sustained — and many single parents, for example, are heroic in their efforts to raise their children — it is in the best interests of the state to encourage and uphold the family founded on marriage and to afford the union of husband and wife unique legal protection and reinforcement.

The redefinition of legal marriage to include any other type of relationship has serious consequences, especially for religious freedom. It changes every law involving marital status, requiring that other such relationships be treated as if they were the same as the marital relationship of a man and a woman. No person or community, including religious organizations and individuals of faith, should be forced to accept this redefinition. For many people, accepting a redefinition of marriage would be to act against their conscience and to deny their religious beliefs and moral convictions. Government should protect the rights of those with differing views of marriage to express their beliefs and convictions without fear of intimidation, marginalization or unwarranted charges that their values imply hostility, animosity, or hatred of others.

In this and in all that we do, we are motivated by our duty to love God and neighbor. This love extends to all those who disagree with us on this issue. The well-being of men, women, and the children they conceive compels us to stand for marriage as the union of one man and one woman. We call for the preservation of the unique meaning of marriage in the law, and for renewed respect for religious freedom and for the conscience rights of all in accord with the common good.

Sincerely Yours:

The Rev. Dr. Leith Anderson
President
National Association of Evangelicals

The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach
Archbishop and Primate
Anglican Church in North America

Dr. A.D. Beacham, Jr.
Presiding Bishop
International Pentecostal Holiness Church

The Rev. John F. Bradosky
Bishop
North American Lutheran Church

Rev. Mark Chavez
General Secretary
North American Lutheran Church

Clint Cook
Executive Director
General Association of General Baptists

Most Rev. Salvatore J. Cordileone
Archbishop of San Francisco
Chairman USCCB Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage

His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios
Archbishop of America
President of the Holy Eparchial Synod
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

The Most Rev. Robert Duncan
Archbishop Emeritus
Anglican Church in North America
Bishop, Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh

Rev. Dr. Ron Hamilton
Conference Minister
Conservative Congregational Christian Conference

Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison
President
Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod

Rev. Bruce D. Hill
Bishop
Evangelical Congregational Church

John Hopler
Director
Great Commission Churches

Steven R. Jones
President
Missionary Church, Inc.

Imam Faizul Khan
Islamic Society of Washington Area

Most Rev. Joseph E. Kurtz
Archbishop of Louisville
President
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Most Rev. William E. Lori
Archbishop of Baltimore
Chairman
USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty

Dr. Jo Anne Lyon
General Superintendent
The Wesleyan Church

Most Rev. Richard J. Malone
Bishop of Buffalo Chairman
USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth

Dr. Russell Moore
President
Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Dr. Gus Reyes
Director
Christian Life Commission, Texas Baptists

Rev. Eugene F. Rivers, III
Founder and President
Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies

Jacqueline C. Rivers
Executive Director
Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies

Larry Roberts
Chief Operating Officer
The Free Methodist Church – USA

Rocky Rocholl
President
Fellowship of Evangelical Churches

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez
President
National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference / Hispanic Evangelical Association

Bishop Gary E. Stevenson
Presiding Bishop
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Dr. L. Roy Taylor
Stated Clerk
Presbyterian Church in America

His Beatitude, The Most Blessed Tikhon
Archbishop of Washington and Metropolitan of All America and Canada
Orthodox Church in America

Dr. Joseph Tkach
President
Grace Communion International

Rev. Dr. David Wendel
Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism
North American Lutheran Church

Rev. Phillip Whipple
Bishop
United Brethren in Christ Church, USA

David P. Wilson
General Secretary
Church of the Nazarene

Rev. Paul Winter
Elder Bruderhof Communities

Dr. George O. Wood
General Superintendent
Assemblies of God


April 28, 2015

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