Mathew Staver, dean of the Liberty University Law School and chairman of the social conservative group Liberty Counsel, says a ruling that struck down California's gay marriage ban could criminalize Christianity.

In remarks to the Christian website CNS News, Staver said if the ruling, which found Proposition 8 violated the U.S. Constitution, was upheld by a higher court, then it would mean the criminalization of Christian beliefs.

“It's an astounding statement by a judge, and if that finding were to be upheld, it would criminalize Christian beliefs, because the Bible and Christian beliefs historically have clearly indicated that homosexuality is sex outside of marriage – and is contrary to God's design,” he said.

“For this judge to say that Christian beliefs or religious beliefs contrary to homosexuality are actually harmful – what that essentially says is, that if that's the case, then you've got to change your religious beliefs, and if you don't, you're going to be penalized as result. That is a very dangerous aspect of this court decision.”

In his ruling, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker wrote that moral and religious views against being gay “do not provide a rational basis supporting Proposition 8.”

Other faith leaders have sounded a similar alarm as they argue against gay marriage.

In an op-ed published Monday at, Father Thomas Euteneur, president of Human Life International, wrote that gay marriage threatens Christian civilization.

“There is no doubt that, if it is not already there, gay marriage will be coming to your state soon,” Euteneur said. “If we don't fight it, our souls, our families and basically, our very civilization will find themselves at 'the end' of the line in very short order.”