One-hundred and fifty-two evangelical,
Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian leaders have signed a
declaration saying they oppose laws that would compel them to
recognize gay unions or marriages, among other social issues.
“We pledge to each other, and to our
fellow believers, that no power on Earth, be it cultural or
political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence,” says
Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience.
The manifesto was unveiled Friday at
the National Press Club. The document outlines the group's three
most pressing issues, two of which deal with gay rights: abortion,
marriage and religious liberties.
“We argue that there is a hierarchy
of issues,” Chuck Colson, a prominent evangelical who founded
Prison Fellowship and co-authored the document, told the New York
Times. “A lot of younger evangelicals say they're all alike.
We're hoping to educate them that these are the three most important
Among the signatories are Rev. Donald
W. Wuerl, the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of
Washington, D.C. and Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jr.
Wuerl and Jackson are the chief
opponents of a gay marriage law expected to be approved by the D.C.
City Council on December 1. Wuerl
has threatened to pull the plug on D.C. social programs, including
serving the homeless and providing health care for the poor, unless
the law includes language that allows individuals and private
business owners to refuse to provide goods and services related to
the nuptials of gay couples.
Jackson founded the Christian-backed
group Stand4MarriageDC.com after city leaders approved a gay
marriage-recognition law in the spring. His
group is currently fighting for the right to put a gay marriage
question on the ballot.
The document says, “We will not
comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to
participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted
suicide and euthanasia, or any other antilife act; nor will we bend
to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual
partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent.”
The document's language also takes aim
at other gay rights laws, including a recently approved law that adds
sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of federally
recognized hate crimes and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a
bill that would ban workplace discrimination against gay men,
lesbians and transgender people.
Social conservatives have argued that
such measures would have a chilling effect on religious liberties.
Signers to the document include
prominent opponents of gay rights, including Frank Schubert, who
headed the campaign to reverse gay marriage in California, Alan
Sears, president and general counsel of the Arizona-based Alliance
Defense Fund, David Welch, the
Houston-area pastor leading the charge against mayoral candidate
Annise Parker because she is openly lesbian, James Dobson,
founder of the anti-gay group Focus on the Family, and Tony Perkins,
president of the Family Research Council and a
leading opponent of gay rights.
A surprising omission is the
Rev. Rick Warren, the evangelical minister whose prayer at the
inauguration of President Obama drew heated protest because of his
support for Proposition 8, California's gay marriage ban.