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Preserve Freedom, Reject Coercion

source: http://www.colsoncenter.org/freedom

More than 75 prominent religious and thought leaders have come together as charter signatories of "Preserve Freedom, Reject Coercion," a statement that affirms every American’s freedom to peacefully live their lives according to their beliefs and opposes government coercion or censorship of fellow citizens who have different views. These leaders are united by the idea that all laws must respect freedom and promote justice for every citizen, no matter who they are.

You can stand with these leaders by adding your signature to "Preserve Freedom, Reject Coercion." To do so, read the document (below) and fill out the form here:

By filling out this form, you are standing with every American who knows that when religious freedom is compromised for any of us, it is compromised for all of us. Thanks for standing with us, and please know that we will not rent or sell your email address. We ask for it purely to keep you up to date on the progress of this project and related efforts to protect and expand religious liberty.

PRESERVE FREEDOM, REJECT COERCION

As Americans, we cherish the freedom to peacefully express and live by our religious, philosophical, and political beliefs—not merely to hold them privately. We write on behalf of millions of Americans who are concerned about laws that undermine the public good and diminish this freedom for individuals and organizations alike.

We affirm that every individual is created in the image of God and as such should be treated with love, compassion, and respect. We also affirm that people are created male and female, that this complementarity is the basis for the family centered on the marital union of a man and a woman, and that the family is the wellspring of human flourishing. We believe that it is imperative that our nation preserve the freedoms to speak, teach, and live out these truths in public life without fear of lawsuits or government censorship.

In recent years, there have been efforts to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classifications in the law—either legislatively or through executive action. These unnecessary proposals, often referred to as SOGI policies, threaten basic freedoms of religion, conscience, speech, and association; violate privacy rights; and expose citizens to significant legal and financial liability for practicing their beliefs in the public square. In recent years, we have seen in particular how these laws are used by the government in an attempt to compel citizens to sacrifice their deepest convictions on marriage and what it means to be male and female—people who serve everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, but who cannot promote messages, engage in expression, or participate in events that contradict their beliefs or their organization’s guiding values.

Creative professionals, wedding chapels, non-profit organizations, ministries serving the needy, adoption agencies, businesses, schools, religious colleges, and even churches have faced threats and legal action under such laws for declining to participate in a same-sex wedding ceremony; for maintaining policies consistent with their guiding principles; and for seeking to protect privacy by ensuring persons of the opposite sex do not share showers, locker rooms, restrooms, and other intimate facilities. Under SOGI laws, people of good will can face personal and professional ruin, fines, and even jail time, and organizations face the loss of accreditation, licensing, grants, contracts, and tax-exemption.

SOGI laws empower the government to use the force of law to silence or punish Americans who seek to exercise their God-given liberty to peacefully live and work consistent with their convictions. They also create special preference in law for categories based on morally significant choices that profoundly affect human relations and treat reasonable religious and philosophical beliefs as discriminatory. We therefore believe that proposed SOGI laws, including those narrowly crafted, threaten fundamental freedoms, and any ostensible protections for religious liberty appended to such laws are inherently inadequate and unstable.

SOGI laws in all these forms, at the federal, state, and local levels, should be rejected. We join together in signing this letter because of the serious threat that SOGI laws pose to fundamental freedoms guaranteed to every person.

America has stood as a beacon of liberty to the world because our Constitution protects people’s freedom to peacefully—and publicly—work and live according to their convictions. We represent diverse efforts to contribute to the flourishing of our neighbors, communities, nation, and world. We remain committed to preserving in law and stewarding in action the foundational freedoms that make possible service of the common good, social harmony, and the flourishing of all.

Daniel L. Akin
President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
 
Anthony Allen
President, Hannibal-LaGrange University
 
Jason K. Allen
President, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
 
Ryan T. Anderson
William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow in American Principles and Public Policy, The Heritage Foundation
 
Bruce Riley Ashford
Provost, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
 
Mark L. Bailey
President, Dallas Theological Seminary
Robert Benne
Institute of Lutheran Theology
 
Gerard V. Bradley
Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame
 
Rick Brewer
President, Louisiana College
 
Michael Bryant
Executive Vice President, Charleston Southern University
 
Thomas Buchanan
Senior Editor, Touchstone Magazine
 
Rosaria Champagne Butterfield
Author and speaker
 
Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput
Archbishop of Philadelphia, Chairman, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth
 
D. A. Carson
President, The Gospel Coalition
 
Joshua D. Chatraw
Executive Director, Center for Apologetics and Cultural Engagement, Liberty University
 
Derry Connolly
President, John Paul the Great Catholic University
 
Barry K. Creamer
President, Criswell College
 
Jim Daly
President, Focus on the Family
Most Rev. Frank J. Dewane
Bishop of Venice, Chairman, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development
 
Kevin DeYoung
Senior Pastor, University Reformed Church (East Lansing, Mich.)
 
David S. Dockery
President, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
 
Daniel J. Egeler, EdD
President, Association of Christian Schools International
 
Rev. Wilbur David Ellsworth
Pastor, Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Christian Church (Warrenville, Ill.)
 
Anthony Esolen
Professor of English, Providence College
 
William Fahey
President, Thomas More College of Liberal Arts
 
Gene C. Fant, Jr.
Provost, Palm Beach Atlantic University
 
Thomas Farr
Professor of the Practice of Religion and International Affairs, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University
 
Robert A. J. Gagnon
Associate Professor of New Testament, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
 
Sister Mary Sarah Galbraith
President, Aquinas College
 
Robert P. George
McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University and Former Chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
 
Timothy George
Founding Dean, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
 
David Goodwin
President, Association of Classical Christian Schools
 
Franklin Graham
President/CEO, Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
Loren Gresham
President, Southern Nazarene University
 
Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison
President, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
 
Anne Hendershott
Professor of Sociology and Director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life, Franciscan University of Steubenville
 
James Hitchcock
Professor of History, St. Louis University
 
Edith M. Humphrey
William F. Orr Professor of New Testament, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
 
John Jackson
President, William Jessup University
David Lyle Jeffry
Distinguished Professor of Literature and Humanities, Honors Program, Baylor University
 
Philip W. Kell
President, California Baptist Foundation
 
Jerry A. Johnson
President and CEO, National Religious Broadcasters
Daniel R. Kempton, Ph.D.
Vice President, Academic Affairs, Franciscan University of Steubenville
 
James M. Kushiner
Executive Director, Fellowship of St. James/Executive Editor, Touchstone Magazine
 
Peter J. Leithart
President, Theopolis Institute
 
Stephen D. Livesay
President, Bryan College
 
Most Rev. William E. Lori
Archbishop of Baltimore, Chairman, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty
 
Fred Luter
Pastor, Franklin Avenue Baptist Church (New Orleans, LA) and Former President, Southern Baptist Convention
 
John MacArthur
President, The Master’s University & Seminary
 
Barbara C. McMillin
President, Blue Mountain College
 
Benjamin R. Merkle
President, New Saint Andrews University
 
Eric Metaxas
Author and Nationally Syndicated Radio Host
 
C. Ben Mitchell
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Union University
 
Albert Mohler
President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
 
Russell Moore
President, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
 
Jeff Myers
President, Summit Ministries
 
Most Rev. George V. Murry, S.J.
Bishop of Youngstown, Chairman, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Catholic Education
Bradley Nassiff
Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies, Northpark University
 
Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver
President, Union University
 
Paige Patterson
President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
 
Everett Piper
President, Oklahoma Wesleyan University
 
Leon J. Podles
President, Crossland Foundation
 
Mary Podles
Author and Art Historian
 
Patrick Henry Reardon
Pastor, All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church (Chicago)
 
Patrick J. Reilly
President, The Cardinal Newman Society
 
R. R. Reno
Editor, First Things
 
John Mark Reynolds
President, Saint Constantine School (Houston)
 
Jay Richards
Assistant Research Professor, The Busch School of Business and Economics, The Catholic University of America
 
Samuel Rodriguez
President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Hispanic Evangelical Association
 
Mike Rouse
President, American Association of Christian Schools
 
William Saxby
Dean, School of Humanities, Colorado Christian University
 
Alan Sears
President, CEO, and General Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom
 
Rev. Sean O. Sheridan, TOR
President, Franciscan University of Steubenville
 
Robert B. Sloan
President, Houston Baptist University
 
Kevin L. Smith
Executive Director, Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware
 
Robert Smith, Jr.
Charles T. Carter Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
 
Timothy L. Smith
President, University of Mobile
 
John Stonestreet
President, Colson Center for Christian Worldview
 
Carol M. Swain
Professor of Law and Political Science, Vanderbilt University
 
Justin Taylor
author, editor, blogger, The Gospel Coalition
 
Peter W. Teague
President, Lancaster Bible College/Capital Seminary and Graduate School
 
H. James Towey
President, Ave Maria University
 
Todd Wagner
Pastor of Watermark Church
 
Roland C. Warren
President & CEO, Care Net
 
George Weigel
Distinguished Senior Fellow and William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies, Ethics and Public Policy Center
 
James Emery White
Pastor, Mecklenburg Community Church (Charlotte, N.C.)
 
David W. Whitlock
President, Oklahoma Baptist University
 
Thomas White
President, Cedarville University
 
Carl E. Zylstra
Executive Director, Association of Reformed Colleges and Universities
Organizations and Institutions are listed only for the purpose of identification and do not necessarily reflect an official position of the organization or institution.