Preserve Freedom, Reject Coercion

More than 75 prominent religious and thought leaders have come together as charter signatories of “Preserve Freedom, Reject Coercion,” a statement that affirms every American’s freedom to peacefully live their lives according to their beliefs and opposes government coercion or censorship of fellow citizens who have different views. These leaders are united by the idea that all laws must respect freedom and promote justice for every citizen, no matter who they are.

You can stand with these leaders by adding your signature to “Preserve Freedom, Reject Coercion.” To do so, read the document (below) and fill out the form here:

By filling out this form, you are standing with every American who knows that when religious freedom is compromised for any of us, it is compromised for all of us. Thanks for standing with us, and please know that we will not rent or sell your email address. We ask for it purely to keep you up to date on the progress of this project and related efforts to protect and expand religious liberty.

PRESERVE FREEDOM, REJECT COERCION

As Americans, we cherish the freedom to peacefully express and live by our religious, philosophical, and political beliefs—not merely to hold them privately. We write on behalf of millions of Americans who are concerned about laws that undermine the public good and diminish this freedom for individuals and organizations alike.

We affirm that every individual is created in the image of God and as such should be treated with love, compassion, and respect. We also affirm that people are created male and female, that this complementarity is the basis for the family centered on the marital union of a man and a woman, and that the family is the wellspring of human flourishing. We believe that it is imperative that our nation preserve the freedoms to speak, teach, and live out these truths in public life without fear of lawsuits or government censorship.

In recent years, there have been efforts to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classifications in the law—either legislatively or through executive action. These unnecessary proposals, often referred to as SOGI policies, threaten basic freedoms of religion, conscience, speech, and association; violate privacy rights; and expose citizens to significant legal and financial liability for practicing their beliefs in the public square. In recent years, we have seen in particular how these laws are used by the government in an attempt to compel citizens to sacrifice their deepest convictions on marriage and what it means to be male and female—people who serve everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, but who cannot promote messages, engage in expression, or participate in events that contradict their beliefs or their organization’s guiding values.

Creative professionals, wedding chapels, non-profit organizations, ministries serving the needy, adoption agencies, businesses, schools, religious colleges, and even churches have faced threats and legal action under such laws for declining to participate in a same-sex wedding ceremony; for maintaining policies consistent with their guiding principles; and for seeking to protect privacy by ensuring persons of the opposite sex do not share showers, locker rooms, restrooms, and other intimate facilities. Under SOGI laws, people of good will can face personal and professional ruin, fines, and even jail time, and organizations face the loss of accreditation, licensing, grants, contracts, and tax-exemption.

SOGI laws empower the government to use the force of law to silence or punish Americans who seek to exercise their God-given liberty to peacefully live and work consistent with their convictions. They also create special preference in law for categories based on morally significant choices that profoundly affect human relations and treat reasonable religious and philosophical beliefs as discriminatory. We therefore believe that proposed SOGI laws, including those narrowly crafted, threaten fundamental freedoms, and any ostensible protections for religious liberty appended to such laws are inherently inadequate and unstable.

SOGI laws in all these forms, at the federal, state, and local levels, should be rejected. We join together in signing this letter because of the serious threat that SOGI laws pose to fundamental freedoms guaranteed to every person.

America has stood as a beacon of liberty to the world because our Constitution protects people’s freedom to peacefully—and publicly—work and live according to their convictions. We represent diverse efforts to contribute to the flourishing of our neighbors, communities, nation, and world. We remain committed to preserving in law and stewarding in action the foundational freedoms that make possible service of the common good, social harmony, and the flourishing of all.

Daniel L. Akin

President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Anthony Allen

President, Hannibal-LaGrange University

Jason K. Allen

President, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Ryan T. Anderson

William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow in American Principles and Public Policy, The Heritage Foundation

Bruce Riley Ashford

Provost, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Mark L. Bailey

President, Dallas Theological Seminary

Robert Benne

Institute of Lutheran Theology

Gerard V. Bradley

Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame

Rick Brewer

President, Louisiana College

Michael Bryant

Executive Vice President, Charleston Southern University

Thomas Buchanan

Senior Editor, Touchstone Magazine

Rosaria Champagne Butterfield

Author and speaker

Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput

Archbishop of Philadelphia, Chairman, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth

D. A. Carson

President, The Gospel Coalition

Joshua D. Chatraw

Executive Director, Center for Apologetics and Cultural Engagement, Liberty University

Derry Connolly

President, John Paul the Great Catholic University

Barry K. Creamer

President, Criswell College

Jim Daly

President, Focus on the Family

Most Rev. Frank J. Dewane

Bishop of Venice, Chairman, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development

Kevin DeYoung

Senior Pastor, University Reformed Church (East Lansing, Mich.)

David S. Dockery

President, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Daniel J. Egeler, EdD

President, Association of Christian Schools International

Rev. Wilbur David Ellsworth

Pastor, Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Christian Church (Warrenville, Ill.)

Anthony Esolen

Professor of English, Providence College

William Fahey

President, Thomas More College of Liberal Arts

Gene C. Fant, Jr.

Provost, Palm Beach Atlantic University

Thomas Farr

Professor of the Practice of Religion and International Affairs, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

Robert A. J. Gagnon

Associate Professor of New Testament, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Sister Mary Sarah Galbraith

President, Aquinas College

Robert P. George

McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University and Former Chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

Timothy George

Founding Dean, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

David Goodwin

President, Association of Classical Christian Schools

Franklin Graham

President/CEO, Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

Loren Gresham

President, Southern Nazarene University

Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison

President, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod

Anne Hendershott

Professor of Sociology and Director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life, Franciscan University of Steubenville

James Hitchcock

Professor of History, St. Louis University

Edith M. Humphrey

William F. Orr Professor of New Testament, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

John Jackson

President, William Jessup University

David Lyle Jeffry

Distinguished Professor of Literature and Humanities, Honors Program, Baylor University

Philip W. Kell

President, California Baptist Foundation

Jerry A. Johnson

President and CEO, National Religious Broadcasters

Daniel R. Kempton, Ph.D.

Vice President, Academic Affairs, Franciscan University of Steubenville

James M. Kushiner

Executive Director, Fellowship of St. James/Executive Editor, Touchstone Magazine

Peter J. Leithart

President, Theopolis Institute

Stephen D. Livesay

President, Bryan College

Most Rev. William E. Lori

Archbishop of Baltimore, Chairman, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty

Fred Luter

Pastor, Franklin Avenue Baptist Church (New Orleans, LA) and Former President, Southern Baptist Convention

John MacArthur

President, The Master’s University & Seminary

Barbara C. McMillin

President, Blue Mountain College

Benjamin R. Merkle

President, New Saint Andrews University

Eric Metaxas

Author and Nationally Syndicated Radio Host

C. Ben Mitchell

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Union University

Albert Mohler

President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Russell Moore

President, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention

Jeff Myers

President, Summit Ministries

Most Rev. George V. Murry, S.J.

Bishop of Youngstown, Chairman, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Catholic Education

Bradley Nassiff

Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies, Northpark University

Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver

President, Union University

Paige Patterson

President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Everett Piper

President, Oklahoma Wesleyan University

Leon J. Podles

President, Crossland Foundation

Mary Podles

Author and Art Historian

Patrick Henry Reardon

Pastor, All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church (Chicago)

Patrick J. Reilly

President, The Cardinal Newman Society

R. R. Reno

Editor, First Things

John Mark Reynolds

President, Saint Constantine School (Houston)

Jay Richards

Assistant Research Professor, The Busch School of Business and Economics, The Catholic University of America

Samuel Rodriguez

President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Hispanic Evangelical Association

Mike Rouse

President, American Association of Christian Schools

William Saxby

Dean, School of Humanities, Colorado Christian University

Alan Sears

President, CEO, and General Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom

Rev. Sean O. Sheridan, TOR

President, Franciscan University of Steubenville

Robert B. Sloan

President, Houston Baptist University

Kevin L. Smith

Executive Director, Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware

Robert Smith, Jr.

Charles T. Carter Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

Timothy L. Smith

President, University of Mobile

John Stonestreet

President, Colson Center for Christian Worldview

Carol M. Swain

Professor of Law and Political Science, Vanderbilt University

Justin Taylor

Author, editor, blogger, The Gospel Coalition

Peter W. Teague

President, Lancaster Bible College/Capital Seminary and Graduate School

H. James Towey

President, Ave Maria University

Todd Wagner

Pastor of Watermark Church

Roland C. Warren

President & CEO, Care Net

George Weigel

Distinguished Senior Fellow and William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies, Ethics and Public Policy Center

James Emery White

Pastor, Mecklenburg Community Church (Charlotte, N.C.)

David W. Whitlock

President, Oklahoma Baptist University

Thomas White

President, Cedarville University

Carl E. Zylstra

Executive Director, Association of Reformed Colleges and Universities

Organizations and Institutions are listed only for the purpose of identification and do not necessarily reflect an official position of the organization or institution.

Resources

REAL-LIFE STORIES

Carl and Angel Larsen

Telescope Media Group v. Lindsey (with video)

Further Reading

Sometimes a Question is Better than an Answer
  • John Stonestreet
  • The Daily Signal
  • August 22, 2016
Turning American Law Upside Down for the Transgendered
  • David French
  • National Review
  • April 19, 2016
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Laws Threaten Freedom
  • Ryan T. Anderson
  • Heritage Foundation Backgrounder
Liberty and SOGI Laws: An Impossible and Unsustainable “Compromise”
  • Ryan T. Anderson and Robert P. George
  • Public Discourse