Religious leaders 'Obey God Rather than Men' in Open Letter to U.S. Supreme Court

by Kimberly Pennington, National Correspondent |

WASHINGTON (Christian Examiner) - Setting aside theological differences, 85 Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox Christian, and Jewish leaders joined civic and business leaders in signing an open letter to the U.S. Supreme court pubished in a June 10 ad in the Washington Post, vowing to disobey any court mandate which would force them to operate from any definition of marriage apart from a union between one man and one woman.

"We ask you not to force us to choose between the state and the Laws of God. We are Christians who love America and who respect the legitimate rule of law," the religious leaders wrote. "However, we will not honor any decision by the Supreme Court which will force us to violate a clear biblical understanding of marriage as solely the union of one man and one woman." 

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Prominent evangelical leaders and pastors who joined civic and business leaders to sign the full-page ad include James Dobson, Family Talk; Franklin Graham, President and CEO Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; Robert Jeffress, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Dallas; Jerry Johnson, President and CEO, National Religious Broadcasters Association; Gregg Matte, pastor, Houston's First Baptist Church; Penny Nance, President, Concerned Women for America; Paige Patterson, President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director, Priests for Life, Staten Island, NY; Pastor Steve Riggle, Grace Church, Houston; James Robinson, LIFE Outreach International; Don Wildmon, Founder and Chairman, American Family Association; Tim Wildmon, President, American Family Association.

Real estate entrepreneurs David and Jason Benham, whose home improvement show was canceled by HGTV months before its premiere when their conservative views on marriage and abortion were made public, added their names to the letter -- as did Dr. Alveda King, niece of the late civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr.

The late King's work is invoked in the letter. "We affirm that any judicial opinion which purports to redefine marriage will constitute an unjust law, as Martin Luther King Jr. described such laws in his letter from the Birmingham Jail."

The letter argues that marriage as an institution between one man and one woman precedes civil government and is not merely a matter of religion but also of Natural Law, written on the heart.

"We implore this Court to not step outside of its legitimate authority and unleash religious persecution and discrimination against people of faith.

"We will be forced to choose between the state and our conscience, which is informed by clear biblical and church doctrine and the natural created order.

"On this choice, we must pledge obedience to our Creator. While there are many things we can endure, any attempt to redefine marriage is a line we cannot and will not cross."

The full page ad closes by quoting Acts 5:29 ""But Peter and the apostles answered, We must obey God rather than men" and encourages those who want more information to contact Common Good Foundation, the Liberty Council, or Vision America Action.

Earlier this year, Vision America initiated an online pledge for Americans who wish to add their names to a pledge to defend traditional marriage. To date 44,500 people have signed.

Co-drafters of the pledge are Mathew Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, Orlando, Fla.; and Keith Fournier, Common Good Alliance, Catholic Online. Other key signers are affiliated with organizations such as as Vision America, High Impact Leadership Coalition Hispanic Evangelical Association, African American Outreach, Priests for Life, Jewish Voices Ministries, International; Liberty University School of Law, National Religious Broadcasters.