LCMS President Harrison signs letter supporting traditional definition of marriage, religious freedom

ST. LOUIS—January 13, 2011—The Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), joined 38 leaders of some of the largest religious communities in the United States in signing an open letter to all Americans to voice their shared concern for protecting the traditional definition of marriage and preserving the essential right to uphold individual religious beliefs without fear of sanctions from governmental authorities.

The letter, titled “Marriage and Religious Freedom: Fundamental Goods That Stand or Fall Together,” was released Thursday, Jan.12. It can be found at

Other signatories include leaders from Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, Evangelical, Jewish, Lutheran, Mormon and Pentecostal communities in the United States.

“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.  “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. We must act collectively with others of good will in this society. 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.”

In the letter, the leaders counter a common claim that the principal threat to religious freedom is the possibility of ministers being forced to officiate same-sex “weddings.”

The leaders wrote: “We believe the most urgent peril is this: 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.”

They added that “these conflicts bear serious consequences.”

The release of the letter comes days before the presidential proclamation for Religious Freedom Day (Jan. 16) and a few weeks before World Marriage Day (February 12) and National Marriage Week USA (Feb. 7-14). The letter follows a letter of shared commitment released Dec. 6, 2010.

About The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), is a mission-oriented, Bible-based, confessional Christian denomination headquartered in St. Louis, Mo. Founded in 1847, the LCMS has about 2.3 million baptized members in more than 6,000 congregations and more than 9,000 pastors. Two seminaries and 10 colleges and universities operate under the auspices of the LCMS, and its congregations operate the largest Protestant parochial school system in America. The church broadcasts the saving message of Jesus Christ over KFUO Radio, and it has relationships and active mission work in 89 countries around the world. In the last five years, the LCMS has awarded more than $35 million through more than 900 domestic and international grants for emergency response and disaster relief. Today, the LCMS is in full doctrinal fellowship with 33 other confessional Lutheran church bodies worldwide and is a founding partner of Lutheran Services in America, a social ministry organization serving one in every 50 Americans. For more information, visit



Vicki Biggs
Director, Integrated Communications
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
314-996-1236 | 314-556-3829 (mobile)

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