The Defense Of Marriage And The Right Of Religious Freedom: Reaffirming A Shared Witness

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

Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Released April 23, 2015

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


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