JACKSON, Tenn. – April 20, 2006 – Union University President David S. Dockery was one of 48 religious leaders to sign a letter calling for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
The ecumenical statement, "A Letter from America's Religious Leaders in Defense of Marriage," includes support from Jewish rabbis, Catholic leaders, Anglicans, Orthodox, Protestants and evangelicals.
“We are convinced that this is the only measure that will adequately protect marriage from those who would circumvent the legislative process and force a redefinition of it on a whole of our society,” the letter reads. “We encourage all citizens of good will across the country to step forward boldly and exercise their right to work through our constitutionally established democratic procedures to amend the Constitution to include a national definition of marriage.”
The letter argues that marriage, which for thousands of years has been defined as a bond between one man and one woman, is a vital component of civil society.
“Marriage is particularly important for the rearing of children as they flourish best under the long term care and nurture of their father and mother,” the letter reads. “For this and other reasons, when marriage is entered into and gotten out of lightly, when it is no longer the boundary of sexual activity, or when it is allowed to be radically redefined, a host of personal and civil ills can be expected to follow.”
Those signing the letter cite their concern with divorce rates, out-of-wedlock births, absentee fathers and the trend of some courts to make marriage “an elastic concept” that can accommodate individual preference.
Other signers of the letter include Francis Cardinal George, the archbishop of Chicago; Archbishop Demetrios of America; Keith Ackerman, the Episcopal bishop of Illinois; Richard John Neuhaus, editor of First Things; Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, executive vice president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America; Charles Colson, founder and chairman of Prison Fellowship; James Dobson, founder and chairman of Focus on the Family; and other well-known leaders across the country.
Other Southern Baptist signers of the letter are Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; Timothy George, dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University; Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Malcolm Yarnell, director of the Center for Theological Research at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Steve Lemke, provost at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; and Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif.