The letter isn't addressed to anyone. It is addressed to everyone.
Defending the notion that the civil rights associated with marriage should be preserved according to religious doctrine, 30 religious organizations representing various Roman Catholic, Latter Day Saints (LDS or Mormon), Lutheran, Wesleyan, Evangelical and Pentecostal, Baptist and Southern Baptist churches and organizations have signed the statement.
The purpose of the letter? Read into this what you will:
"Marriage and religious liberty are at a crisis point in the United States," he said. "This letter is a sign of hope. Not only are tens of millions of believing citizens represented in the letter's signatories, but the letter itself testifies to the growing and shared awareness of just how important marriage and religious freedom are to the well being of our country." --source
I read this as saying they believe their religious freedom entitles them to discriminate against the civil rights of those they disagree with. An old story, right?
Several of the letter's signee organizations claim millions to tens of millions of members in the United States [note: the direct signees on this letter are bolded, however many of the signees are member groups of another or a part of a larger church organization, for instance the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)]. PLEASE NOTE THAT IS IS NOT A LIST OF THOSE SIGNING THE LETTER. IF YOU CLICK ON THE FIRST LINK IN THE DIARY, THOSE SIGNEES ARE THERE. THIS IS A LIST OF THE TOP MEMBERSHIP CHURCHES IN THE NATION. ONLY THE BOLDED CHURCHES ARE INVOLVED, OR CHURCHES THAT FALL UNDER A GENERAL CATEGORY SUCH AS "EVANGELICAL". THIS LIST OF THE TOP 25 CHURCHES IS TO SHOW THE RELATIVE STRENGTH OF MEMBERSHIP IN THE SIGNEE CHURCHES, NOTHING MORE.
1. The Catholic Church, 68,115,001 members, up 1.49 percent.
2. Southern Baptist Convention,16,228,438 members, down 0.24percent.
3. The United Methodist Church, 7,853,987 members, down 0.98 percent.
4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 5,974,041 members, up 1.71 percent.
5. The Church of God in Christ, 5,499,875 members, no membership updates reported.
6. National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc, 5,000,000 members, no membership updates reported.
7. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 4,633,887 members, down1.62 percent.
8. National Baptist Convention of America, Inc., 3,500,000 members, no membership updates reported.
9. Assemblies of God (ranked 10 last year), 2,899,702 members, up 1.27 percent.
10. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) 1(ranked 9 last year), 2,844,952 members, down 3.28 percent.
11. National Missionary Baptist Convention of America, 2,500,000 members, no membership updates reported.
11. Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc. 2,500,000 members, no membership updates reported.
14. The Lutheran Church-- Missouri Synod (LCMS), 2,337,349 members, down 1.92 percent.
15. The Episcopal Church, 2,057,292 members, down 2.81 percent.
16. Churches of Christ, 1,639,495 members, no membership updates reported.
17. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, 1,500,000 members, no membership updates reported.
17. Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc., 1,500,000 members, no membership updates reported.
19. The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, 1,400,000 members, members, no membership updates reported.
20. American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A., 1,331,127 members, down 2.00 percent.
21. Baptist Bible Fellowship International (ranked 22 last year), 1,200,000 members, no membership updates reported.
22. Jehovah’s Witnesses (ranked 23 last year) 1,114,009members, up 2.00 percent.
23. United Church of Christ (ranked 22 last year), 1,111,691 members, down 2.93 percent.
24. Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee), (ranked 25 last year), 1,072,169 members, up 1.76 percent.
25. Christian Churches and Churches of Christ (ranked 24 last year), 1,071,616 members, no membership updates reported. --list from National Council of Churches, here
As states like North Carolina and Minnesota work to enshrine "one man/one woman" language into their constitutions via votes on May 8 and November 6, respectively, other states like Washington (and here), Maryland (and here and here), and New Jersey continue the arduous legislative process which, if successful, may very well bring about a California Prop 8-style reaction from not only the churches cited above, but separate organizations including National Organization for Marriage (which, I was informed yesterday here a DK, is already polling Washington state) and others.
You can BET that the cited letter, above, will become part of that process.
In Maine, marriage was granted, then taken away at the ballot box. Groups in Maine are preparing to circulate another petition to get the issue on the November ballot and an announcement is expected tomorrow. (Maine groups here, and here).
THERE ARE REASONS BEYOND THE FACE OF THIS I AM POINTING THIS OUT.
1. The churches WILL organize against any and all permissive legislation landing on the November ballot or put opposition language on the ballot themselves. They will stop at nothing. This has the effect of both increasing conservative turnout which in turn increases the likelihood of conservative votes from the president down ticket. Do not think it won't. It will.
2. (1), above, means that NO ONE can stay home. The November election is about these important equal rights issues AND about the presidency and house/senate. It means we have a lot of work to do. A. Lot.
3. The marriage issue is the premier civil rights issue of our time. Gay and straight folks alike need to work in coalition in each state to help push these issues over the line. That means monetary and time commitments. If you don't have a fight in your state, find one close by you can support.
On the involvement of the religious groups cited above, I think we all realize that not every member is reflected by the church's view. There is, however, a lot of solidarity within certain religious groups/communities/churches. These folks will donate and work against equal rights. In some cases, they will be moved forward by the hierarchy of their church especially if that particular church tends to authoritarian structure.
In the case of Mitt Romney, we know he has donated to causes to stop marriage rights of lgbt people.
We also know that the meme of religious freedom and "attacks on religious freedom" continues to come up with GOP candidates pointing the finger at the Obama administration and the left. Newt Gingrich has a long history of anti-gay rights/marriage statements/positions, including these statements made on BillO's show:
Newt has even gone so far as to propose a Presidential Commission on the issue. (See the language at his site if you want, but I just won't link to it.)
The bottom line is that this issue is being attacked from every corner. Polling is various around the country, but as we saw in California, that can (and did) turn around.
Religion and state don't mix. Where we can make a difference, we must.