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