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Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

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Diverse religious coalition defends marriage and religious freedom in open letter

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 7, 2015, (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Religious leaders from such diverse faiths as Islam, Mormonism, and most major Christian communions affirmed "a shared witness" that marriage is exclusively "the union of one man and one woman."

"An Open Letter from Religious Leaders to All in Positions of Public Service" is signed by Islamic, Mormon, Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox Christian clergy jointly. The timing of the public letter is intended to impact the deliberations of the U.S. Supreme Court, whose justices are now considering imposing same-sex marriage on all 50 states.

"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 letter states.

Signers "from diverse faith communities" agree that marriage is "the union of one man and one woman." Furthermore, they agree that "marriage is the foundation of the family where children are raised by a mother and a father together."

Significantly, these religious leaders connect the defense of traditional marriage to equality and civil rights. "Our commitment to marriage...is inseparable from affirming the equal dignity of all people and the necessity of protecting their basic rights," they state.

Leaders say that traditional marriage "as it has been understood across faiths and cultures for millennia" is rightly affirmed by government, because the State "has a compelling interest in the well-being of 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 clergy say. "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."

Although the clergy admit that the ideal of both parents raising their children "cannot always be realized and sustained," they call single parents "heroic." But nevertheless they conclude, "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."

The clerics state that marriage concerns people of all faiths because of the likely steps that will follow any change to that traditional, faith-informed definition. "The redefinition of legal marriage to include any other type of relationship has serious consequences, especially for religious freedom," they warn.

The religious leaders who signed the open letter recognize that they have been charged by God to serve and witness to the truth about marriage and the family.

Instead of forcing citizens to betray their faith, the open letter says that "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 [of] hostility, animosity, or hatred of others."

Rather, the leaders say their motivation is love, including love for those who disagree.

The open letter ends with a call for lawmakers to preserve the traditional understanding of marriage. "The well-being of men and 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."

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Roman Catholic Archbishop Joseph Edward Kurtz of Louisville commented on the letter, “Marriage as the union of one man and one woman provides the best context for the birth and rearing of children and should be specially protected by law. The law, when it upholds the unique meaning of marriage, is simply recognizing an objective reality, not constructing one: children always have a mother and a father and deserve to be loved and raised by both of them. Society should work to strengthen the unique bond between husband and wife, knowing that strong marriages build stronger communities.”

The letter is signed by Islamic Imams, and Mormon bishops. National Christian organizational leaders endorsing the letter include the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops officials, the presidents of the National Association of Evangelicals, the Fellowship of Evangelical Christians, the Hispanic Evangelical Association, and clergy officials from the Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies.

Christian clergy signing included national Roman Catholic, Orthodox Christian, Anglican, Pentecostal Holiness, North American Lutheran, General Baptist, Conservative Congregation, Missouri Synod Lutheran, Evangelical Congregational, Great Commission, Missionary, Wesleyan, Southern Baptist, United Brethren, Bruderhof Communities, Assemblies of God, Nazarene, Free Methodist, American Presbyterian, and Grace Communion clergy.

You may read the entire letter here.

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