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A Letter from America's Religious Leaders in Defense of Marriage

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Apr 25, 2006

Throughout America, the institution of marriage is suffering. As leaders in our nation's religious communities, we cannot sit idly by. It is our duty to speak. And so across the lines of theological division, we have united to affirm, in one voice, the following:

For millennia our societies have recognized the union of a man and a woman in the bond of marriage. Cross-culturally virtually every known human society understands marriage as a union of male and female. As such marriage is a universal, natural, covenantal union of a man and a woman intended for personal love, support and fulfillment, and the bearing and rearing of children. Sanctioned by and ordained of God, marriage both precedes and sustains civil society.

Marriage is particularly important for the rearing of children as they flourish best under the long term care and nurture of their father and mother. For this and other reasons, when marriage is entered into and gotten out of lightly, when it is no longer the boundary of sexual activity, or when it is allowed to be radically redefined, a host of personal and civic ills can be expected to follow. Such a point has always been stressed by the world's great monotheistic religious traditions and is, today, increasingly confirmed by impeccable social science research.

Long concerned with rates of divorce, out-of-wedlock births, and absentee fathers, we have recently watched with extreme alarm the growing trend of some courts to make marriage something it is not: an elastic concept able to accommodate almost any individual preference. This does not so much modify or even weaken marriage as abolish it. The danger this betokens for family life and a general condition of social justice and ordered liberty is hard to overestimate.

Therefore, we take the unprecedented stand of uniting to call for a constitutional amendment to establish a uniform national definition of marriage as the exclusive union of one man and one woman. We are convinced that this is the only measure that will adequately protect marriage from those who would circumvent the legislative process and force a redefinition of it on the whole of our society. We encourage all citizens of good will across the country to step forward boldly and exercise their right to work through our constitutionally established democratic procedures to amend the Constitution to include a national definition of marriage. We hereby announce our support for S.J. Res.1, the Marriage Protection Amendment.

May God bless all marriages and all those who labor to protect the sanctity and promote the goodness of marriage throughout this nation.

Signed,

The Right Reverend Keith L. Ackerman, SSC

Episcopal Bishop of Quincy, IL

Daniel Akin, Ph.D.

President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

The Right Reverend Peter H. Beckwith

Episcopal Bishop of Springfield, IL

Bishop Charles E. Blake

First Assistant Presiding Bishop, Church of God in Christ (COGIC)

The Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Denver, CO

Charles W. Colson

Founder and Chairman, Prison Fellowship

His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America

Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America

James C. Dobson, Ph.D.

Founder and Chairman, Focus on the Family

David Dockery, Ph.D.

President, Union University, Jackson, Tennessee

Chairman, Board of Directors, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities

The Right Reverend Robert Duncan

Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, PA

Moderator of the Anglican Communion Network

His Eminence Francis Cardinal George, OMI

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Chicago, IL

Timothy George, Th.D.

Dean, Beeson Divinity School of Samford University

Executive Editor of Christianity Today

The Most Reverend Jose H. Gomez

Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Antonio, TX

The Reverend Ted Haggard

President, National Association of Evangelicals

The Reverend Dr. Jack W. Hayford

President, The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel

Founder/Chancellor, The King's College and Seminary

Pastor Emeritus, The Church On The Way

The Most Blessed Herman

Archbishop of Washington and New York

Primate, The Orthodox Church in America

The Right Reverend John W. Howe

Episcopal Bishop of Central Florida

Bishop Harry R. Jackson

Senior Pastor, Hope Christian Church, Lanham, MD

President, High Impact Leadership Coalition

His Eminence William Cardinal Keeler

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Baltimore, MD

The Reverend Dr. D. James Kennedy

Chancellor, Knox Theological Seminary, Fort Lauderdale, FL

The Reverend Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick

President, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod

Dr. Richard Land

President, Ethics "Religious Liberty Commission," Southern Baptist Convention

Rabbi Daniel Lapin

President, Toward Tradition

Steve W. Lemke, Ph.D.

Provost, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

The Reverend Dr. Peter A. Lillback

Senior Pastor, Proclamation Presbyterian Church, Bryn Mawr, PA

President, Westminster Theological Seminary

The Reverend Herbert H. Lusk, II

Senior Pastor, Greater Exodus Baptist Church

President CEO, People For People, Inc

The Most Reverend Robert C. Morlino

Roman Catholic Bishop of Madison, WI

The Most Reverend John Myers

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Newark, NJ

The Most Reverend Joseph F. Naumann

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kansas City, KS

Elder Russell M. Nelson

Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

The Reverend Richard John Neuhaus

Editor in chief of FIRST THINGS

The Most Reverend John C. Nienstedt

Roman Catholic Bishop of New Ulm, MN

Rabbi David Novak

J. Richard and Dorothy Shiff Chair of Jewish Studies,

Professor of the Study of Religion and Professor of Philosophy, University of Toronto

Visiting Professor of Religion, Princeton University (2006)

The Most Reverend Thomas J. Olmsted

Roman Catholic Bishop of Phoenix, AZ

His Eminence Sean Patrick Cardinal O'Malley, O.F.M., Cap.

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston, MA

Dr. Paige Patterson

President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

His Eminence Justin Cardinal Rigali

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Philadelphia, PA

The Reverend Eugene F. Rivers, III

Founder and President, The Seymour Institute for Advanced Christian Studies

The Reverend Samuel Rodriguez, Jr.

President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

National Hispanic Association of Evangelicals

Rabbi Meir Soloveichik

Associate Rabbi, Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun of Manhattan, NY

The Most Reverend John G. Vlazny

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Portland, OR

The Reverend Dr. Rick Warren

Founding Pastor, The Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA

Author, The Purpose-Driven Life

Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb

Executive Vice President, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America

The Reverend David Welch

Executive Director, U.S. Pastor Council

The Most Reverend John W. Yanta

Roman Catholic Bishop of Amarillo, TX

Malcolm B. Yarnell, III, Ph.D.

Director, Center for Theological Research

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Institutional affiliations are provided for purposes of identification only.

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