Bishops Join Other Religious Leaders Linking Traditional Marriage and Religious Liberty

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops joined with some of the largest religious communities in the United States in an open letter voicing their shared concern for marriage and religious freedom.

The letter, titled “Marriage and Religious Freedom: Fundamental Goods That Stand or Fall Together,” was released January 12. It can be found at the USCCB’s website.

Other signatories include leaders from Anglican, Baptist, Evangelical, Jewish, Lutheran, Mormon, and Pentecostal communities in the United States.

Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, was one of the four signing Catholic bishops.

“Marriage and religious liberty are at a crisis point in the United States,” he said. “This letter is a sign of hope. Not only are tens of millions of believing citizens represented in the letter’s signatories, but the letter itself testifies to the growing and shared awareness of just how important marriage and religious freedom are to the well being of our country. The letter makes a compelling argument that needs to be heard by all of us, especially those in positions of authority: anyone truly concerned with religious freedom must also be a defender of marriage’s perennial definition.”

The letter explains that the threat to marriage in this country goes well past simply the possibility of ministers being forced to officiate same-sex “weddings.” The letter says:

“We believe the most urgent peril is this: 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.”

The letter speaks of myriad unintended consequences of changing the definition of marriage.

“…altering the civil definition of ‘marriage’ does not change one law, but hundreds, even thousands, at once.By a single stroke, every law where rights depend on marital status—such as employment discrimination, employment benefits, adoption, education, healthcare, elder care, housing, property, and taxation—will change so that same-sex sexual relationships must be treated as if they were marriage. That requirement, in turn, will apply to religious people and groups in the ordinary course of their many private or public occupations and ministries—including running schools, hospitals, nursing homes and other housing facilities, providing adoption and counseling services, and many others.”

The letter urges civic leaders to defend marriage so as also to defend religious liberty.

To read the entire letter click here.

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Reprinted with permission from the Cardinal Newman Society

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