Religious leaders: Same-sex marriage threatens religious freedom

January 13, 2012


A coalition of nearly 40 religious leaders has published an open letter that seeks to recast the battle against same-sex marriage as a fight on behalf of religious freedom.

The religious leaders, predominantly from conservative Christian churches and Orthodox Judaism, say their concern is not that legalizing gay marriage will force their ministers to perform same-sex weddings; they say they doubt that will happen.

Rather, they wrote on Thursday (Jan. 12), allowing same-sex couples to marry would wind up “forcing or pressuring both individuals and religious organizations ― throughout their operations, well beyond religious ceremonies ― to treat same-sex sexual conduct as the moral equivalent of marital sexual conduct.”

“There is no doubt that the many people and groups whose moral and religious convictions forbid same-sex sexual conduct will resist the compulsion of the law, and church-state conflicts will result,” they warn in the letter, titled “Marriage and Religious Freedom: Fundamental Goods That Stand or Fall Together.”

The leaders include Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals; New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; and H. David Burton, presiding bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The signers note that religious adoption agencies already have been required to place children with same-sex couples and religious institutions are being told to provide insurance benefits to gay partners.

The signatories also argue that their opposition to same-sex marriage has “marked them and their members as bigots, subjecting them to the full arsenal of government punishments and pressures reserved for racists.”   

The thrust of the letter is to frame opposition to gay marriage in terms of a battle for religious freedom, an argument that many religious groups believe has a possibility of gaining some traction with an American public, even as Americans increasingly ― and perhaps inexorably ― grow more accepting of same-sex relationships.

The letter also represents an effort by diverse religious bodies to present a united front in opposition to gay marriage. Other signers include Pentecostal church officials and leaders of conservative Baptist, Lutheran and Anglican denominations.

  1. This is nonsense. If clery wants to live in a theocracy then they should move to Iran or Afghanistan. The United States is supposed to have a separation of church and state and freedom and equality for all

    by Paul

    January 16, 2012

  2. É isso mesmo temos que bater de frente e não ficarmos acuados com essa pecado que desagrada a DEUS e que vai Contra a conduta moral de Vida que esta nas Sagradas Escrituras.

    by Luã da fonseca marques

    January 16, 2012

  3. I am a pastor in the PC(USA) who was ordained as an openly gay man in 2005, I do try to be thoughtful, understanding, and compassionate with those who see me and others who are LGBT as opposition. I know they are wrong in their judgments and tactics used to promote their views, especially when such efforts produce the violence that follows the exclusion of any group. Even so, I do believe there are ways, faithful ways of working together and disagreeing, while still fulfilling the Gospel and its teachings. I also believe that the PC(USA) is especially poised to bridge the division and quell the violence that is ultimately blamed on those who have, in fact, been the target – not the cause of the injustice. In the process, the PC(USA) will continue to be a target of opposition for some, however I see that as a sign of faithfulness not errancy. Sincerely, Ray Bagnuolo, Teaching Elder; Presbytery of New York City.

    by Rev. Ray Bagnuolo

    January 14, 2012

  4. 30 years ago, the PC(USA) would have signed the letters against same-sex practice. But where are they now? They are with those supporting it. I want to be Calvinist, Presbyterian, Confessional, Liturgical, Ecumenical, and Evangelical, but this is impossible because the PC(USA) is the most liturgical branch, and they are mixing with churches that have bad theologies and slipping into liberalism. We all need to take a step back and look at the awful things we have done in this denomination.

    by Caleb

    January 13, 2012

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