US Bishops Throw Support Behind Conscience Protections on Marriage

WASHINGTON, DC, July 14, 2016 (CNA/EWTN News) -- Two leading U.S. bishops have spoken out in favor of a proposed law which would ensure federal religious freedom protections to individuals and faith-based organizations who disagree with same-sex marriage.

In a joint statement released Tuesday, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore voiced support for the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA).

The legislation “is a modest but important step in ensuring conscience protection to faith-based organizations and people of all faiths and of no faith who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman,” they said.

Archbishop Cordileone chairs the U.S. bishops’ committee on the promotion and defense of marriage, while Archbishop Lori heads the committee on religious liberty.

The First Amendment Defense Act was introduced by Representative Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) and Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) in response to the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges ruling last year. The proposed law would protect individuals and organizations from being penalized for their views on marriage.

The Obergefell v. Hodges ruling last June federally validated marriage licenses between same-sex couples and has since been a source of concern for individuals, small businesses and faith-based organizations who could lose their tax-exempt status or licenses for upholding their beliefs on traditional marriage.

Over the past year, various small business owners have worried about losing their businesses, and other faith-based organizations are wondering if their tax-exempt statuses are in jeopardy.

“The increasing intolerance toward religious belief and belief in the conjugal meaning of marriage makes these protections essential for continuing faith-based charitable work, which supports the common good of our society,” the bishops’ statement said.

“Faith-based agencies and schools should not lose their licenses or accreditation simply because they hold reasonable views on marriage that differ from the federal government's view.”

Although controversy has swirled around the First Amendment Defense Act as an anti-LGBT provision, both Archbishop Cordileone and Archbishop Lori stated that the definition of marriage “has nothing to do with disrespect for others, nor does it depend on religious belief.”

“Rather, it is based on truths about the human person that are understandable by reason,” the archbishops wrote, stating that marriage between one man and one woman is “foundational to the common good.”

Archbishop Cordileone and Archbishop Lori said that the Catholic Church will continue to be a beacon of moral conviction and stand behind the right to exercise religious beliefs without fear.

“We are pleased to support the First Amendment Defense Act, and we urge Congress to pass this important legislation.”



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