Common Ground Christian Network responds to Executive Order

Editor’s note: The Rev. Thomas Lambrecht, vice president of Good News, and the Rev. James V. Heidinger II, president and publisher emeritus of Good News, are members of the Common Ground Christian Network and signers of this statement.

July 23, 2014

We the Common Ground Christian Network affirm the dignity and value of every human being and we oppose President Obama’s July 21, 2014 executive order which seeks to limit the free exercise of religion by organizations doing business with the federal government. The order compels all federal contractors, including religious organizations, to practice “nondiscrimination” based on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” While designed to proscribe discrimination, the order actually sanctions it by punishing those whose faith-driven convictions the government does not approve.

The Rev. Lambrecht

The Rev. Lambrecht

The First Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees the free exercise of religion, includes religion-based ethics in the workplace. The President’s executive order would force Christian charities and other religious groups, whose services are always extended without discrimination, to hire people whose lifestyles do not conform to the religious beliefs of the organization. This includes the historic biblical Christian teaching that sex is for marriage between husband and wife. It also violates the First Amendment’s disestablishment clause by endorsing “transgender” ideology, the assertion that individuals can reinvent their own self-perceived “gender identity,” irrespective of physical reality. Christians whose faith aligns with historic, biblical Christianity consider this ideology to be Gnostic in its elevation of mind and feelings over biology.

By excluding many religious charitable and educational organizations from government contracts, this executive order will harm the poor and needy who often benefit from the unique expertise and compassion that religious groups offer.  More broadly, this executive order represents a growing intolerance for expressions of historic biblical religious faith in public life. Ultimately the order undermines freedom of speech, conscience and religion for all Americans by coercively imposing through a discriminatory government policy a secular ideology that displaces traditional religious faith and family life.

As Christians and leaders of religious institutions affirming liberty for all persons, religious or not, we pray and hope for judicial and legislative corrections to this misguided executive order. We declare our own commitment to the teachings of historic orthodox Christianity about marriage, sex, gender and the human body. And we decry any government discrimination waged against religious groups under the purported banner of “nondiscrimination.”

The Very Rev. B. Keith Allen, Mid-South Anglican Convocation (ADOTS)
The Rev. Canon J. Philip Ashey, American Anglican Council
Dr. Robert Benne, Roanoke College
The Rev. James D. Berkley, Pastor
Marie Bowen, Presbyterians Pro-Life
Bishop John F. Bradosky, North American Lutheran Church
The Rev. Mark Chavez, North American Lutheran Church
The Rev. Sue Cyre, Presbyterians for Faith, Family and Ministry; Theology Matters
The Rev. James V. Heidinger II, President and Publisher, emeritus, the Good News Movement
The Rev. Chuck Huckaby, Pastor
The Rev. Dr. Jerry R. Kirk, The Prayer Covenant
The Rev. Robert Kopp, Remnant movement, PCUSA
Carmen Fowler LaBerge, Presbyterian Lay Committee; Chairman of CGCN
The Rev. W. Scott Lamb, pastor and literary agent
The Rev. Tom Lambrecht, Good News Movement
Viola Larson, Christian worldview blogger
Martha Leatherman, Presbyterians Pro-Life
The Rev. Alex McFarland, The Center for Apologetics & Christian Worldview, North Greenville University
The Rev. Kevin C. Rudolph, Windwood Presbyterian Church
Jack Sharpe, Esq., Presbyterians Pro-Life
The Rev. W. Stevens Shipman, Director, Lutheran Coalition for Renewal
The Rev. Paul T. Stallsworth, Lifewatch
The Rev. Roy Taylor, Presbyterian Church in America
Mark Tooley, The Institute for Religion and Democracy
Mary Van Driest, Vice President of the board, Presbyterians ProLife

(organizations are listed for identification purposes only)

Additional resources:

Reactions from other faith leaders

USCCB: Statement by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

ERLC (Russell Moore)

ERLC (Andrew Walker)

FRC

June 25 letter from the National Association of Evangelicals urging President to include exemption for religious organizations

July 2 letter by other faith leaders urging President to include exemption for religious organizations

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