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Moore spearheads evangelical marriage statement

WASHINGTON (BP) — A coalition of evangelical leaders assembled by ethicist Russell Moore has issued a joint statement decrying the Supreme Court’s legalization of gay marriage. Titled “Here We Stand: An Evangelical Declaration on Marriage,” the statement warns of the “incalculable risks” the court’s decision poses “to an already volatile social fabric” in America.

Among the signatories joining Moore, president of Southern Baptists’ Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, are six other Southern Baptist Convention entity heads, SBC President Ronnie Floyd and three former SBC presidents.

Other notable signatories include Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family; Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; former ERLC President Richard Land, now president of Southern Evangelical Seminary; Ron Sider, a prominent spokesman of the evangelical left; J.I. Packer, a theology professor at Regent College; and Naghmeh Abedini, wife of imprisoned American pastor Saeed Abedini.

For a complete list of signatories and the complete statement, click here. Others may add their names to the statement until July 3.

Moore tweeted that the ERLC website crashed Friday morning (June 26) “from too much traffic,” presumably from Internet surfers viewing the joint statement and other ERLC reaction to the Supreme Court decision.

In the statement, signatories commit to: pray for governing authorities, “work through the democratic process to rebuild a culture of marriage,” love and respect all people, and advocate religious liberty for all.

“The Lord Jesus himself said that marriage is from the beginning (Matt. 19:4-6),” according to the statement, “so no human institution has the authority to redefine marriage any more than a human institution has the authority to redefine the gospel, which marriage mysteriously reflects (Eph. 5:32).”

The statement warns that “in the coming years, evangelical institutions could be pressed to sacrifice their sacred beliefs about marriage and sexuality in order to accommodate whatever demands the culture and law require.” Still, “outrage and panic” should not be believers’ response to the Supreme Court decision.

In a June 26 conference call with members of the media, Moore said churches and pastors likely will not be forced to participate in gay weddings “in the foreseeable future.” But he added, “I think there are going to be many other religious liberty questions that come to the forefront.”

Specifically, Moore predicted religious colleges and universities could face penalties for refusing to recognize same-sex marriage, and that organizations with government contracts could be pressed to acknowledge gay marriage. He also said military chaplains could be forced to perform gay weddings.

Douglas Carver, former Army chief of chaplains, told Baptist Press June 25 that less than 10 percent of the military’s 5,500 chaplains likely would be willing to perform gay weddings. Currently, chaplains “have the responsibility of personally performing or finding a chaplain or clergy person to provide support for our service members’ religious rites, ceremonies and services,” said Carver, executive director of chaplaincy for the North American Mission Board.

Moore cautioned the most significant religious liberty challenges stemming from the Supreme Court’s ruling may be unforeseen.

In the aftermath of the Affordable Care Act, “no one foresaw the way that the administration would push people to violate their consciences,” Moore said. “So I’m not exactly sure what all we have on the forefront. What we need to do is to make sure that our people are ready to contend for religious liberty for everyone.”