N.C. Baptist leaders are among members of the faith community nationwide who have signed an open letter expressing opposition to proposed federal legislation that redefines marriage and critics say is a threat to religious liberty.
The Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 8404), which passed the U.S. House of Representatives in July, would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act that was passed in 1996 and require the federal government to recognize the validity of same-sex marriage in the United States.
The U.S. Senate is expected to consider the bill in the coming weeks.
Following the bill’s passage in the House, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) authored a letter that was signed by individuals representing more than 80 groups and sent to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) asking him to oppose the legislation.
The ADF Church and Ministry Alliance has now drafted an open letter that it plans to send to the entire Senate expressing concern over the bill and asking them to oppose it. ADF is calling on ministry leaders to sign the letter and are seeking at least 1,000 signatures by Sept. 8.
“Simply put, H.R. 8404 would inflict an injustice on us, the members of our congregations and organizations, and the countless Americans we regularly serve who hold to the eternal truth that marriage is between one man and one woman,” the letter reads.
N.C. Baptist leaders, including Executive Director-Treasurer Todd Unzicker, have signed the letter, which also states that the “bill betrays members of the faith community and should be thoroughly abandoned.”
In addition to Unzicker, N.C. Baptist signatories include convention president Micheal Pardue, pastor of First Baptist Church of Icard in Connelly Springs, N.C.; convention first vice president Quintell Hill, pastor of Multiply Community Church in Monroe, N.C.; second vice president Jason Miller, pastor of Dutch Cove Missionary Baptist Church in Canton, N.C.; and Steven Wade, chairman of the convention’s Christian Life and Public Affairs committee and pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Youngsville, N.C.; and other officials.
On its website, ADF says the Respect for Marriage Act “should concern every person of faith.”
“The deceptively named bill enshrines same-sex marriage into federal law and jeopardizes the religious freedom of millions of Americans who follow the biblical teaching of marriage as being between one man and one woman,” the site states.
ADF says the legislation would require the federal government to recognize any state’s definition of marriage, including polygamous or open marriages, marriages involving a minor or close relative, or time-bound marriages.
Additionally, ADF warns that the bill could empower activist groups to sue individuals and organizations, as well as jeopardize the tax-exempt status of nonprofit organizations that believe that marriage is only between one man and woman.
ADF says many senators are still on the fence about how they will vote, and they need to hear from ministry leaders now before the vote on the bill is taken.
Pastors and ministry leaders can learn more about the bill by visiting the special page on the ADF website at adfchurchalliance.org/respect-for-marriage-act. At that page, individuals can read the letter that ADF plans to send senators and add their signatures to it.
Earlier this year, N.C. Baptists announced a partnership with ADF that provides legal assistance to affiliate churches at a discounted rate through the ADF’s Church Alliance program. More information is available by visiting adfchurchalliance.org/ncb.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Chad Austin is managing editor of the Biblical Recorder.)