A high-profile alliance of conservative Catholics and evangelical Protestants is set to issue a sweeping manifesto against gay marriage that calls same-sex unions “a graver threat” than divorce or cohabitation, one that will lead to a moral dystopia in America and the persecution of traditional believers.
“If the truth about marriage can be displaced by social and political pressure operating through the law, other truths can be set aside as well,” say the nearly 50 signers of the statement, which is to be published in the March edition of the conservative journal First Things.
“And that displacement can lead, in due course, to the coercion and persecution of those who refuse to acknowledge the state’s redefinition of marriage, which is beyond the state’s competence,” they say.
The declaration adds that some people “are already being censured and others have lost their jobs because of their public commitment to marriage as the union of a man and a woman.”
Social conservatives have rallied around a number of cases that they say herald a gloomy future, including the recent dismissal of the fire chief in Atlanta, who had given employees a copy of his book in which he detailed his beliefs, based on his Christian faith, that homosexuality was “vile.”
Other cases include a New Mexico photographer who lost her fight to opt out of taking pictures of a same-sex wedding; bakers and florists who wanted to turn away gay customers; and an Idaho wedding chapel whose Christian owners wanted to conduct only heterosexual weddings.
This latest statement, “The Two Shall Become One Flesh: Reclaiming Marriage,” comes from the group Evangelicals and Catholics Together, a coalition formed in 1994 under the aegis of former Nixon aide Charles Colson, an evangelical, and the Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, a Catholic priest.
One of their goals was to encourage the two Christian communities to overcome their historical suspicions and doctrinal differences in order to battle what they saw as a growing moral laxity in the U.S.
Neuhaus died in 2009, and Colson in 2012, but the movement has continued and in some ways has become more focused as Christian conservatives have grown increasingly united in their alarm over the sudden and spreading acceptance of gay rights, especially same-sex marriage.
Discussions on a document on same-sex marriage began in June 2013 — the same month the U.S. Supreme Court required the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages — according to Russell Reno, editor of First Things and a member of ECT; Reno provided a copy of the declaration to RNS.
But Reno said the members first had to agree to set aside their differences on the legitimacy of divorce and contraception, for example, and even whether marriage is a sacrament.
That enabled them to focus on the advance of gay marriage, which they say not only betrays religious tradition but, more than any other development, undermines society because “marriage is the primordial human institution, a reality that existed long before the establishment of what we now know as the state.”
“(W)hat the state defines as marriage no longer embodies God’s purposes in creation,” says the 5,000-word statement, which was first reported by Baptist Press. “An easy acceptance of divorce damages marriage; widespread cohabitation devalues marriage. But so-called same-sex marriage is a graver threat, because what is now given the name of marriage in law is a parody of marriage.”
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SOURCE: Religion News Service