FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Religious leaders affirm natural marriage as a foundational social institution rooted in the complementarity of the sexes and reject claims that the same-sex “marriage” bill adequately protects religious liberty and rights of conscience
Minneapolis (April 18, 2013) — Religious leaders representing hundreds of faith communities in Minnesota—parishes, congregations, churches and Friday prayer locations, and Masjids—have signed a letter sent to Minnesota lawmakers, urging them to safeguard both marriage and religious freedom by rejecting any legislative efforts to redefine marriage.
The faith leaders note that traditional marriage “is the natural order, embracing the complementary physical, emotional and spiritual design of men and women.”
“This letter affirms that marriage is not the property of any particular religion or viewpoint,” said Jason Adkins, vice chairman of Minnesota for Marriage and executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference. “Marriage between a man and a woman is a basic good woven into the very fabric of society, the importance of which is acknowledged by diverse religious communities who have attached to it enormous spiritual and theological significance. The state does not have the power to redefine marriage.”
Rev. Dr. Dean Nadasdy, president of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Minnesota South District spoke for the Christian signers when he said: “Defining marriage is God’s prerogative, not ours. God has clearly defined marriage for us in the Bible as a commitment between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:24). This is one of the primary ways by which God orders and preserves creation, given out of love and wisdom. As such, the definition of marriage is a matter of truth, not rights; faithfulness, not entitlement.
“This is not the pointing finger of judgment or prejudice,” Nadasdy continued. “It is the humble acceptance of God’s will, the compassionate desire to seek the highest good for oneself and others, and the refusal to re-create God in our own image.”
The signers warn that simply not being forced to “solemnize” same-sex marriages does nothing to protect religious freedom as guaranteed in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 16 of the Minnesota Constitution. The proposed legislation falls far short of protecting the rights of ministries, non-profits, businesses, and individuals to freely exercise their religious beliefs and abide their consciences.
“If marriage is redefined in civil law, individuals and religious organizations – regardless of deeply held beliefs – will be compelled to treat same-sex unions as the equivalent of marriage in their lives, ministries and operations,” they write.
Proponents of H.F. 1054/S.F. 925 have claimed that their bill adequately protects religious liberty and that acts they consider discriminatory are already prohibited by the Minnesota Human Rights Act. This is false. As many legal scholars on both sides of the debate have noted, marriage redefinition will create a flood of new claims. Acts once considered non-discriminatory based on the public policy of the state limiting marriage to a man and a woman, will now be considered discriminatory if this legislation passes.
The relationship between the bills and the Minnesota Human Rights Act is made clear by the fact that H.F. 1054/S.F. 925 themselves modify the Human Rights Act. The bill authors have repeatedly admitted that their accommodations for religious liberty do not extend to private individuals, businesses, and non-church-affiliated organizations.
“Making accommodations for clergy, buildings, and church institutions protects only one aspect of religious liberty,” said Carl Nelson, president of Transform Minnesota, a network of over 200 evangelical churches and ministries. “The beliefs and values of the people in the pews, who have to live out their convictions and beliefs in everyday life, should also matter. This state cannot and should not label as bigots and outlaws those who simply believe what practically every civilization has always believed about marriage. Sadly, that will be the result of current legislation to redefine marriage.”
All 201 state legislators and the Governor will receive a copy of the letter personally addressed to him/her. Read the entire letter here.
The signers of the letter span across faith traditions. They include Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist leaders, and a diversity of Christian communities, including the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the Catholic Church, the Church of God in Christ, the Orthodox Church, the Assemblies of God, the Missionary Baptists, the Minnesota Iowa Baptist Conference, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, the Evangelical Free Church of America, as well as individual pastors from some of Minnesota’s largest church congregations. They are Caucasian, Latino, African-American, and Southeast Asian.
Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Minnesota also sent a letter to legislators this week urging them to maintain the current definition of marriage in Minnesota law.
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