Religious groups that oppose gay unions re-emphasize teachings, fine-tune their message
Arguments over same-sex marriage played out in the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, but many religious groups opposed to gay marriage aren’t waiting for a ruling.
A court ruling expected two months from now could sanction same-sex marriage nationwide. In anticipation, some congregations and religious advocacy groups are re-emphasizing their teachings on marriage, fine-tuning their approach to gays and lesbians and bracing for legal battles and public criticism.
“The outcome of this decision will shape the landscape of the church’s ministry in the U.S. for generations to come,” wrote Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. In an interview, he added, “If we have a redefinition of marriage across the board by judicial decree then the church will have a responsibility more than ever to articulate what marriage is in the first place.”
The Southern Baptist Convention, the U.S.’s largest Protestant denomination, is preparing a video series and booklets on marriage and how to address homosexuality, Mr. Moore said. The church is hosting symposiums for pastors on “teaching the biblical witness to marriage” while also “equipping them to minister to gay and lesbian people who don’t agree with us,” he said.
Gay marriage is already legal in 36 states plus the District of Columbia, and the most recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, released in March, showed support for gay marriage at an all-time high of 59%, nearly double the 30% support in 2004.
While many religious groups and congregations accept openly gay members, a segment of believers remains opposed to homosexuality and gay marriage and fears the ruling could further marginalize their position.
“We’ve reached a stage of vilification,” Wallace Henley a columnist for the Christian Post, wrote last week. American Christians who oppose gay marriage, he wrote, must be prepared to live like persecuted “first century Roman Christians.”
This month, a group of more than 30 religious leaders—including a Muslim imam, a Mormon bishop and Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops—signed an open letter to public officials urging them to respect the beliefs of those who oppose gay marriage.
“For many people, accepting a redefinition of marriage would be to act against their conscience and to deny their religious beliefs and moral convictions,” the letter says.
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