The Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, president of Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, joined leaders of some of America’s largest religious communities in signing an open letter that urges Americans to protect traditional marriage and preserve individual religious beliefs.
“We are happy to add the national voice of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod to this thoughtful and articulate case for marriage between one man and one woman,” Harrison said in a statement Friday, a day after he signed the letter titled “Marriage and Religious Freedom: Fundamental Goods That Stand or Fall Together.”
Written to all Americans, the letter was signed by 38 other religious leaders from Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, evangelical, Jewish, Lutheran, Pentecostal and even Mormon communities in the United States.
Signers affirm that “the union of one man and one woman as husband and wife - is a matter of the common good and serves the wellbeing of the couple, of children, of civil society and all people.”
They also say in the letter that the “most urgent peril” is “forcing or pressuring both individuals and religious organizations – throughout their operations, well beyond religious ceremonies – to treat same-sex sexual conduct as the moral equivalent of marital sexual conduct.
“There is no doubt that the many people and groups whose moral and religious convictions forbid same-sex sexual conduct will resist the compulsion of the law, and church-state conflicts will result.”
Harrison, who took office in September 2010, commented, “Increasingly, state and local governments are turning their alleged bigotry cannons on the church and her institutions. The scenarios noted in the communication are happening now, and also directly affecting LCMS entities.”
“There is a need to act collectively with others of good will in this society,” he added. “I hope every concerned member of an LCMS congregation will share this statement far and wide, and also place it directly under the nose of his or her state and federal elected officials.”
The LCMS has more than 2.3 million baptized members in some 6,200 congregations and more than 9,000 pastors.
The letter comes days before the presidential proclamation for Religious Freedom Day on Jan. 16 and weeks before World Marriage Day on Feb. 12 and National Marriage Week USA from Feb. 7 to 14.
The Pew Research Center’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey of 2008 included respondents from LCMS, and 44 percent said homosexuality should be accepted but 47 percent said it should be discouraged.
LCMS is the second-largest Lutheran body in the U.S. after the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
The letter follows a Dec. 6, 2010 letter of shared commitment, titled “The Protection of Marriage: A Shared Commitment.”
“As religious leaders across different faith communities, we join together and affirm our shared commitment to promote and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” the letter said. “We honor the unique love between husbands and wives; the indispensable place of fathers and mothers; and the corresponding rights and dignity of all children.”