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THE DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE AND THE RIGHT OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: REAFFIRMING A SHARED WITNESS

THE DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE AND THE RIGHT OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: REAFFIRMING A SHARED WITNESS

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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

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