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Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the
weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of
civil society, beginning with the family.
We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to
reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our
fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These
truths are (1) the sanctity of human life, (2) the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union
of husband and wife, and (3) the rights of conscience and religious liberty. Inasmuch as
these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are
inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from
powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their
defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are
brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this
commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the
crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
The lives of the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly are ever more threatened. While
public opinion has moved in a pro-life direction, powerful and determined forces are
working to expand abortion, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide, and
euthanasia. Although the protection of the weak and vulnerable is the first obligation of
government, the power of government is today often enlisted in the cause of promoting
what Pope John Paul II called “the culture of death.” We pledge to work unceasingly for
the equal protection of every innocent human being at every stage of development and
in every condition. We will refuse to permit ourselves or our institutions to be implicated
in the taking of human life and we will support in every possible way those who, in
conscience, take the same stand.
The institution of marriage, already wounded by promiscuity, infidelity and divorce, is at
risk of being redefined and thus subverted. Marriage is the original and most important
institution for sustaining the health, education, and welfare of all. Where marriage
erodes, social pathologies rise. The impulse to redefine marriage is a symptom, rather
than the cause, of the erosion of the marriage culture. It reflects a loss of understanding
of the meaning of marriage as embodied in our civil law as well as our religious
traditions. Yet it is critical that the impulse be resisted, for yielding to it would mean
abandoning the possibility of restoring a sound understanding of marriage and, with it,
the hope of rebuilding a healthy marriage culture. It would lock into place the false and
destructive belief that marriage is all about romance and other adult satisfactions, and
not, in any intrinsic way, about the unique character and value of acts and relationships
whose meaning is shaped by their aptness for the generation, promotion and protection
of life. Marriage is not a “social construction,” but is rather an objective reality—the
covenantal union of husband and wife—that it is the duty of the law to recognize, honor,
Freedom of religion and the rights of conscience are gravely jeopardized. The threat to
these fundamental principles of justice is evident in efforts to weaken or eliminate
conscience protections for healthcare institutions and professionals, and in antidiscrimination statutes that are used as weapons to force religious institutions, charities, businesses, and service providers either to accept (and even facilitate) activities and
relationships they judge to be immoral, or go out of business. Attacks on religious liberty
are dire threats not only to individuals, but also to the institutions of civil society including
families, charities, and religious communities. The health and well-being of such
institutions provide an indispensable buffer against the overweening power of
government and is essential to the flourishing of every other institution—including
government itself—on which society depends.
As Christians, we believe in law and we respect the authority of earthly rulers. We count
it as a special privilege to live in a democratic society where the moral claims of the law
on us are even stronger in virtue of the rights of all citizens to participate in the political
process. Yet even in a democratic regime, laws can be unjust. And from the beginning,
our faith has taught that civil disobedience is required in the face of gravely unjust laws
or laws that purport to require us to do what is unjust or otherwise immoral. Such laws
lack the power to bind in conscience because they can claim no authority beyond that of
sheer human will.
Therefore, let it be known that we will not comply with any edict that compels us or the
institutions we lead to participate in or facilitate abortions, embryo-destructive research,
assisted suicide, euthanasia, or any other act that violates the principle of the profound,
inherent, and equal dignity of every member of the human family.
Further, let it be known that we will not bend to any rule forcing us to bless immoral
sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from
proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality, marriage, and the family.
Further, let it be known that we will not be intimidated into silence or acquiescence or
the violation of our consciences by any power on earth, be it cultural or political,
regardless of the consequences to ourselves.
We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no
circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.
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