A number of prominent pastors and lay leaders have signed a petition pledging civil disobedience if a U.S. Supreme Court decision redefining marriage to include same-sex couples infringes upon their religious freedom.
"Experience and history have shown us that if the government redefines marriage to grant a legal equivalency to same-sex couples, that same government will then enforce such an action with the police power of the State. This will bring about an inevitable collision with religious freedom and conscience rights. The precedent established will leave no room for any limitation on what can constitute such a redefined notion of marriage or human sexuality. We cannot and will not allow this to occur on our watch. Religious freedom is the first freedom in the American experiment for good reason," the pledge states, in part.
At press time, over 42,000 had signed the "Pledge in Solidarity to Defend Marriage."
Prominent signers include, Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; Dr. James Dobson, founder of Family Talk Radio; Bishop Harry Jackson, founder of High Impact Leadership Coalition; Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America; Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary and executive editor of The Christian Post; Jerry Johnson, president and CEO of National Religious Broadcasters; and Rev. Rick Scarborough, president of Vision America Action.
The pledge was drafted by Mathew Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel Action, and Deacon Keith Fournier, editor in chief at Catholic Online.
According to a press release, "Those who signed the petition will resist all government efforts to require them to accept gay marriage. They will accept any fine or punishment — including jail time — to protect their religious freedom and the freedom of others."
"I am speaking as a minister to the moral and biblical ramifications of this expected ruling," Scarborough said on the call. "This would be a decision as incorrect and as tragic as Dred Scott [a Supreme Court decision upholding slavery]. Because of the trends and cultural shifts that we have witnessed in culture over the past 40 years, we have all known that this day would likely come and Christians would be put at odds with the culture and the courts.
"I believe we are there. We are approaching a Bonhoeffer moment in America."
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German pastor who spoke out against the Nazis during World War II and ultimately gave his life for the cause.
Later in the call, Staver agreed with the Bonhoeffer analogy.
Referring to wedding vendors who have been punished for living according to their beliefs, he said, "We either all stand together, or we hang separately. This is indeed a Bonhoeffer moment. They might be able to pick us off individually, but collectively they can't. Whenever someone gets targeted, we must gather around them and say no."
In addition to Bonhoeffer, the pledge cites the example of civil rights movement leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a precedent for civil disobedience.
In "Letter From a Birmingham Jail," King advocated disobedience to unjust laws.
"Though affirmed, fulfilled, and elevated by faith, the truth that marriage can exist only between one man and one woman is not based on religion or revelation alone, but on the Natural Law, written on the human heart and discernible through the exercise of reason. It is part of the natural created order. The Natural Law is what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., referred to as a higher law or a just law in his famous 'Letter from Birmingham Jail,'" the pledge states.
This idea is reiterated in the second to last paragraph, which states, "Our highest respect for the rule of law requires that we not respect an unjust law that directly conflicts with higher law. A decision purporting to redefine marriage flies in the face of the Constitution and is contrary to the natural created order. As people of faith we pledge obedience to our Creator when the State directly conflicts with higher law. We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross this line."
The Supreme Court will announce its decision sometime this month on whether the Constitution requires all states to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples.