Statement of Kansas Faith Leaders: Religious freedom must be protected before same-sex marriage becomes law

We support the efforts of the Kansas Legislature to put in place religious freedom protections related to same-sex marriage.

In two short months, five federal judges have nullified the votes of almost six million Americans in Kentucky, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Virginia by declaring that those states’ marriage laws are now unconstitutional. not one of those judges’ decisions provided any protection for the religious civil rights and liberties of the millions of Americans whose sincerely held religious beliefs say that marriage is a union between one man and one woman.

All people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity in civil society. We do not condone demeaning or unjust treatment of anyone.

Marriage involves unique religious convictions that are rooted in the deepest aspects of faith, personal identity, and conscience. and because the redefinition of legal marriage threatens to compel people by law to participate in, or otherwise support, relationships and celebrations to which they object in conscience, legal protection is required.

We thus commend the efforts of members of both parties in the Kansas Legislature to try to ensure that, if same-sex marriage becomes law in Kansas, existing religious civil rights and liberties of Kansans will be protected. We consider the House bill a good-faith effort to incorporate thinking from numerous faith communities and religious freedom experts, with a focus on ensuring that a future court decision does not diminish religious liberty in Kansas. Like most important civil rights legislation, we would expect that it would be amended and clarified through the legislative process.

Protections for religious freedom must safeguard clergy and faith institutions, including houses of worship, religious schools, religious charities, and the like. No church, synagogue, mosque, or temple — and no minister, pastor, rabbi, imam, or priest — should be compelled by law to participate in a same-sex wedding.

At its core, religious freedom — like freedom of speech — is an individual right. Government, therefore, must never force religious individuals to participate in a same- sex marriage to which they hold a sincere religious objection.

All such anti-religious coercion by government is contrary to the most basic American and Kansan conceptions of freedom.

Many legislators in both parties who have been using their best efforts to protect religious freedom have been subjected to unfair and inaccurate criticism about their motives. We know many of these men and women, and they are dedicated public servants trying to sort through legally and emotionally complex issues. We, therefore, commend all Kansas legislators who have been working together to protect existing religious civil rights and liberties.

Finally, we request that all parties to this debate conduct their public discourse with decency and civility. The name-calling, threats, and intimidation to which legislators have been subjected are not appropriate tactics in this or any discussion.

We call on everyone to work together in good faith to ensure that, if same-sex marriage becomes law in Kansas, religious freedom does not become a casualty.

Charles Allen IV
President, The Urban Scholastic Center

Most Rev. John B. Brungardt
Bishop of Dodge City, Kansas

Elder Donald Deshler
North American Central Area
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints

Rev. Clemente Maldonado
District Superintendent, Midwest Latin American District Council of the Assemblies of God

Dr. Bob Mills
Executive director, Kansas Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists

Rev. Benjamin Stephens
Senior Pastor, Trinity Temple Church of God in Christ

BIshoP leMuel thuston Kansas East Jurisdiction Church of God in Christ

Most Rev. Joseph F. Naumann
Archbishop of Kansas City in Kansas

Bishop Lemuel Thuston
Kansas East Jurisdiction
Church of God in Christ

Rev. Eliseo Vega
District Presbyter (Kansas Section)
Midwest Latin American District Council of the Assemblies of God

Most Rev. Edward J. Weisenburger
Bishop of Salina, Kansas
Rev. Jim West
Lead Pastor, Colonial Presbyterian Church
Rev. Terry Yancey
District Superintendent, Kansas District Council of the Assemblies of God

About the author

Anita McSorley

Anita, managing editor of The Leaven, has over 30 years’ experience in book, magazine and newspaper editing, including stints as the assistant editor of the “Diplomatic Papers of Daniel Webster” at Dartmouth College and then in the public relations departments of Texaco, Inc., and the Rockefeller Group in New York. Anita made the move to newspaper editing when she came to The Leaven in 1988, where she has been ever since. Anita is a member of St. Patrick Parish in Kansas City, Kan., and in her spare time, she enjoys giving her long-suffering husband, her children and her staff good advice that they never take.

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