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Faith Leaders Denounce Mississippi’s Proposed “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” as Echo of “Jim Crow” South

March 12, 2014, 12:29 pm | Posted by Casey Schoeneberger

African-American Clergy, Evangelical Leaders, and Christian Scholars Denounce Mississippi’s Proposed “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” as Echo of “Jim Crow” South

With the Mississippi House of Representatives on the verge of passing a bill that would legalize discrimination by commercial businesses throughout the state, more than 350 clergy leaders from across the country released a statement denouncing the bill and challenging their fellow Christians who support it to examine their conscience.

The “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” which would allow businesses to discriminate based on sexual orientation, is closely modeled on the Arizona bill that made national news last month when it was vetoed by Republican Governor Jan Brewer under a storm of controversy.

The signers represent hundreds of congregations and include Mississippi clergy leaders along with some of the most high-profile national evangelical and mainline protestant leaders in the country, including:

Bruce Case, Senior Pastor of Parkway Hills United Methodist Church in Madison, MS; Rev. Austin Hoyle, Youth Minister and Associate Pastor of Parkway Hills United Methodist Church in Madison MS; Rev. Michael McLaughlin, Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Cleveland, MS; Rev. Richard Cizik, President of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good; Rev. Dr. James C. Perkins, President-elect of the Progressive National Baptist Convention; Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, IL; Noel Castellanos, CEO Christian Community Development Association; Mr. James Winkler, President of the National Council of Churches; Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, Director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and more.

The statement read, in part:

“These misguided efforts eerily echo Jim Crow laws that robbed African Americans of their basic human dignity. Businesses once barred not only blacks, but Jews and Asians from buying homes in certain neighborhoods or eating in restaurants even after Supreme Court rulings overturned segregation laws.”

Signers of the statement applauded those lawmakers who are rejecting the discriminatory legislation that would return to Mississippi to an era when religious claims and government policy were used to further Jim Crow laws.

Religious leaders’ stances on this issue will also shape the future of the church. A poll released by the Public Religion Research Institute showed that 55 percent of white evangelical Protestant Milliennials believe religious groups are alienating young adults by being too judgmental about gay and lesbian issues.

The full list of signers and the full text of the statement are below and can be found here. Signers’ affiliations are listed for identification purposes only.

As evangelicals, mainline Protestants and Catholics we are alarmed by the pending Mississippi bill that would allow virtually anyone, including businesses, to discriminate against customers in the name of religious liberty. We call on Mississippi and all states to abandon legislation that threatens democracy, civil rights and religious freedom itself.

These misguided efforts eerily echo Jim Crow laws that robbed African Americans of their basic human dignity. Businesses once barred not only blacks, but also Jews and Asians from buying homes in certain neighborhoods or eating in restaurants even after Supreme Court rulings overturned segregation laws.

We must not allow faith to be used in the service of discrimination.

When we seek to codify legislation that discriminates against any class of people—no matter our diverse theological beliefs about marriage—we tarnish the treasure of religious freedom and the highest ideals of our democracy. Most of all, we are complicit in violating the Golden Rule that unites us as Christians—to love God and our neighbor as we love ourselves.


Pastor Bruce Case
Parkway Hills UMC
Senior Pastor
Madison, Mississippi

Rev. Austin Hoyle
Parkway Hills UMC
Youth Minister and Associate Pastor
Madison, Mississippi

Rev. Michael McLaughlin
First Presbyterian Church
Cleveland, Mississippi

Rev. James C. Perkins
Progressive National Baptist Convention
President elect
Detroit, Michigan

Rev. J. Herbert Nelson
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness
Washington, D.C

Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III
Trinity United Church of Christ
Chicago, Illinois

Mr. James Winkler
National Council of Churches
Washington, D.C.

Sr. Ann Scholz
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Associate Director for Social Mission
Silver Spring, Maryland

Rev. Richard Cizik
New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good
Oak Ridge, Tennesse

Rev. Dr. Amy Butler
Calvary Baptist Church
Senior Pastor
Washington, D.C

Francis X. Doyle
Associate General Secretary (retired)
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Rev. Noel Castellanos
Christian Community Development Association
Chicago, Illinois

John Sniegocki
Associate Professor of Christian Ethics
Xavier University
Cincinnati, Ohio

Christopher Pramuk
Associate Professor of Theology
Xavier University
Cincinnati, Ohio

Rev. Drew Christiansen, S. J.
Distinguished Professor of Ethics
and Global Human Development
Georgetown University
Washington, D.C.

Dr. Brian McLaren
Marco Island, Florida

Dennis M. Doyle
Professor of Religious Studies
University of Dayton
Dayton, Ohio

Anthony B. Smith
Associate Professor
Department of Religious Studies
University of Dayton
Dayton, Ohio

Una M. Cadegan
Department of History
University of Dayton
Dayton, Ohio

Sr. Christine Dobrowolski
Louisville, Kentuck

Rev. Jack Haberer
The Presbyterian Outlook
Richmond, VA

Rev. Chuck Currie
Sunnyside and University Park Churches
Portland, Oregon

Rev. Kendrick Curry
The Pennsylvania Ave Baptist Church
Senior Pastor
Washington, DC

Dr. David P. Gushee
Mercer University
Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life
Atlanta, Georgia

Rev. Egon Cohen
Temple University Department of Religion
University Fellow
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Rev. Kay Huggins
Saint Mark Presbyterian, North Bethesda
Parrish Associate
North Bethesda, Maryland

Rev. Michael Livingston
National Public Policy Director, IWJ
Trenton, New Jersey

Rev. Steven Martin
New Evangelical Partnership For The Common Good
Executive Director
Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Rev. Chuck Currie
Sunnyside and University Park Churches
Senior Minister
Portland, Oregon

Rev. Jacob Simpson
Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church
Baltimore, Maryland

Rev. Sung Moy
Pawling UMC
Pawling, New York

Rev. Dawn Rosignol
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Burnet, Texas

Rev. Doug Hagler
Interim Pastor
Jenkintown, Pennsylvania

Rev. Deborah Vaughn
Hospital Chaplain
Washington, D.C.

Rev. Paul Frazier
Paul D. Frazier
First Presbyterian Church
Hardin, Illinois

Rev. Ray McKinnon
University City United Methodist Church
Missions Director
Charlotte, North Carolina

Rev. Jennifer Krushas
High Point, North Carolina

Rev. Wayne A. Laws
Mountain View United Church
Minister of Social Justice
Aurora, Colorado

Rev. Richard Kidd
Boardman, Ohio

Rev. William Moore
Bedford Christian Church
Bedford, Virginia

Rev. Robert Norman
Leland, North Carolina

Rev. Matt Gough
First Presbyterian Corvallis
Corvallis, Oregon

Rev. Molly Casteel
Assistant Stated Clerk
Louisville, Kentucky

Rev. Tricia Tedrow
First Presbyterian Church
Port LaVirginiaca, Texas

Rev. Mark Koenig
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations
New York, New York

Rev. Ann Tiemeyer
National Council of Churches, USA
Assoicate General Secretary for Joint Action and Advocacy
New York, New York

Rev. Lynette Sparks
Third Presbyterian Church
Associate Pastor
Rochester, New York

Rev. Margaret E Howland
South Presbyterian Church of Yonkers, NY
Pastor Emeritus
Orlando, Florida

Rev. Cynthia Ruiz
San Francisco de Assisi
Austin, Texas

Rev. Sharon Baker
Gary, Indiana

Rev. Nevin Werron
Pennsauken, New Jersey

Rev. Richard Mosley, Jr.
Hemenway U.M.C.
Evanston, Illinois

Rev. Lyn Barrett
First Congregational United Church of Christ
Woodbury, Connecticut

Rev. Douglas Holmes
First Presbyterian
Albion, New York

Rev. Catherine George
Minister at Large
Charlotte, North Carolina

Rev. Richard Huggins
McLeod Memorial PC
Lakeland, Florida

Rev. Christen Miller
Peace United Church of Christ
Fort Wayne, Indiana

Rev. Susan Thistlethwaite
Chicago Theological Seminary
Professor of Theology
Chicago, Illinois

Rev. Gary Nims
Des Moines, Iowa

Rev. Susan Ezell
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Honorably Retired, Pastor Emerita
Annandale, Virginia

Rev. Mary Love
Mid-Kentucky Presbytery
Crescent Hills Presbyterian Church
Parish Associate
Louisville, Kentucky

Rev. Ana Wilson
Senior Minister
Jacksboro, Texas

Rev. Susan Trigger
First Presbyterian Church
Rockaway, New Jersey

Rev. Paul Turner
Gentle Spirit Christian Church
Senior Pastor
Decatur, Georgia

Rev. Tricia Dykers Koenig
Covenant Network of Presbyterians
Forest Hill Church
National Organizer
Cleveland Heights, Ohio

Rev. Edward Gehres
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Executive Presbyter-Retired
Media, Pennsylvania

Rev. John Ericson
Living Water Lutheran Church
Hampton, Virginia

Rev. Holly Hallman
Holly Hallman
Issaquah, Washington

Rev. Robert Carter
East Brunswick, New Jersey

Rev. Lorelei Kay
Westminster Presbyterian Church
Designated Pastor
Gallup, New Mexico

Rev. Brett Kelly
United Methodist
Findlay, Ohio

Rev. Jill Mills
Sterling Heights, Michigan

Rev. Robert Williams
Roswell, New Mexico

Rev. Patricia Lavery
Church of Epiphany
Grove City, Pennsylvania

Rev. Janet Rhind
St. Paul’s UMC
Prairie Village, Kansas

Rev. Nancy Neal
Church of the Pilgrims
Parish Associate
Washington, D.C.

Rev. John Long
Presbytery of Western New York
First Presbyterian Church
Ecumenical Liaison
Buffalo, New York

Rev. Rebecca Tollefson
Executive Director
Columbus, Ohio

Rev. Taryn Mattice
Protestant Cooperative Ministry at Cornell
Ithaca, New York

Rev. Nathan Mahand
Calvary Baptist Church
College Minister
Waco, Texas

Rev. Terrence Tilley, SJ
Fordham University
Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., Professor of Catholic Theology
New York, New York

Rev. Barbara Peter
Presbyterian Church (USA)
1st Presby, Libertyville, IL
Honorably Retired
Lake Forest, Illinois

Rev. David Pickett
First Presbyterian Church
Associate Pastor
West Chester, Pennsylvania

Rev. Mark Fischer
Twelve Apostles Church
Saegertown, Pennsylvania

Rev. Mary Beth Konen
Ironwood, Michigan

Rev. Hannah Flynn
Anglican Church of North America
Resurrection Anglican Church
Shalimar, Florida

Rev. Brian Wharton
Faith UMC
Associate Pastor
Spring, Texas

Rev. Harry Knox
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
President and CEO
Washington, D.C.

Rev. John A. Coleman, SJ
Saint Ignatius Parish
Parochial Vicar
San Francisco, California

Rev. David Harris
Palmyra, Pennsylvania

Rev. Scott Marrese-Wheeler
Presbyterian Church (USA)
McFarland, Wisconsin

Rev. Douglas Mitchell
Westminster Presbyterian Church
Associate Pastor for Faith in Action
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Rev. Jerrod Lowry
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Community of Grace Presbyterian Church (USA)
Sandy, Utah

Rev. Barbara Robberson
United Methodist Church
Missouri City, Texas

Rev. Charlotte Coyle
Paris, Texas

Rev. Mark Wendorf
Sanford, Maine

Rev. Bobbi Neason
First Presbyterian Church
Bandon, Oregon

Rev. Rosa Lee Harden
Cathedral of All Souls
Canon for Money and Meaning
Asheville, North Carolina

Rev. Martha Sexton
La Jolla, California

Rev. Heather Bartlow
John Calvin Presbyterian Church
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Rev. Ellen Acton
Seattle, Washington

Rev. Dwyn Mounger
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Eusebia Presbyterian
Knoxville, Tennessee

Rev. Daryn Holdsworth
Central States Synod – ELCA
Florissant, Missouri

Rev. Craig Swan
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
Camillus, New York

Rev. Katherine Michael
Westminster Presbyterian
Associate Pastor
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Rev. Loren Mote
Legacy Church

Rev. Loren Mote
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Rev. Duane Clinker
United Methodist
Pastor (retired)
Cranston, Rhode Island

Rev. Anne Clement
United Methodist
Sapulpa, Oklahoma

Rev. Eric Gates
Hyde Park Christian Church
Austin, Texas

Rev. Emily Proctor
Riverside Presbyterian Church
Director of Young Adult and Global Outreach
Jacksonville, Florida

Rev. Brenton Thompson
Crossroads Presbyterian Church
Limerick, PA

Rev. Lois Ann Wolff
Albany Presbytery
Honorably Retired
Lake Luzerne, NY

Rev. John Frey
Cypress Creek Christian Church
Teaching Pastor
Spring, Texas

Rev. Mark Meeks
Capitol Heights Presbyterian Church
Denver, CO

Rev. Sue Lowcock Harris
First Presbyterian Church of Howard County, MD
Columbia, Maryland

Rev. Kendrick Curry
The Pennsylvania Ave Baptist Church
Senior Pastor
Washington, DC

Rev. J.F. Wickey
Alva, OK

Rev. Pam Watkins
Durham, North Carolina

Rev. Dale Nixon
Southern Baptist Convention
Terry Parker Baptist Church
Jacksonville, Florida

Rev. Dan Vaughn
St. John’s Church
Mount Aetna, PA

Rev. B. Gordon Edwards
Presbyterian Church USA
Honorably Retired
Stillwater, OK

Rev. Kimberly Chastain
United Presbyterian Church of Binghamton, NY
Executive Pastor
Binghamton, NY

Rev. Phyllis Zoon
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Plumsted Presbyterian, New Egypt, NJ
Interim Pastor
New Egypt, NJ
Rev. Susan Joseph Rack
Martinsville, NJ

Rev. Troy Braswell
Circleville Presbyterian Church
Circleville, Ohio

Professor David O’Brien
College of Holy Cross
Professor Emeritus
Worcester, Massachusetts

Professor Jeannine Hill Fletcher
Fordham University
Professor of Theology, Department of Theology and Dorothy Day Center for Service and Justice
New York, New York

Prof. Kathleen Maas Weigert
Loyola University Chicago
Carolyn Farrell, BVM, Professor of Women and Leadership
Chicago, Illinois

Prof. Alex Mikulich
Jesuit Social Research Institute, Loyola University New Orleans
Assistant Professor
New Orleans, Louisiana

Ms. Lisa Sharon Harper
Senior Director of Mobilizing
Washington, D.C.

Ms. Gail Mott
Downtown Presbyterian Church
Rochester, New York

Ms. Rita Brown
First Presbyterian Church Haddonfield, NJ
Berlin, New Jersey

Ms. Donell Seager
Spiritual Director
Pace, Florida

Ms. Angelyn Forbes-Freeze
First Presbyterian Church of Yorktown, NY
Cortland Manor, New York

Ms. Amy Wharton
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Robinson, Illinois

Ms. Nancy Horman
Woodland Park Presbyterian Church
retired elder
Seattle, Washington

Ms. Merilie Robertson
Woodland Hills Presbyterian
Canoga Park, California

Ms. Carole Eckerd
First Presbyterian
Roseburg, Oregon

Ms. Sarah Brownlee
Atlanta, Georgia

Ms. Nancy Ellingham
Newport Presbyterian Church
Bellevue, Washington

Ms. Kaila Coo
Colorado Christian university
Adjunct Professor of theology
Lakewood, Colorado

Ms. Peri Erdmann
Ruling elder
Aberdeen, South Dakota

Ms. Laura Hovland
Mt. Washington
Cincinnati, Ohio

Ms. Evelyn Stewart
Westminster Presbyterian Church
Portland, Oregon

Ms. Karen Wilson
College Avenue Presbyterian Church
Alton, IL

Ms. Sally Mackey
Lake Burien PC(USA)
Burien, WA

Ms. Nancy Lister-Settle
Presbytery of Des Moines
Dallas Center, IA

Mr. Jason Redick
Holy Covenant United Methodist
Youth Minister
Carrollton, Texas

Mr. Keith Dager
La Tijera UMC in Los Angeles
Layman in UMC Reconciling Ministry Network
Los Angeles, California

Mr. David Osio
Catholic Charities Diocese of Wichita
Director of Immigration Services
Wichita, Kansas

Mr. Billy Roberts
Forest Hills Presbyterian Church
Youth Ministry Director
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Dr. Greg Smith
LUCHA Ministries, Inc.
Administrative Coordinator
Fredericksburg, Virginia

Dr. Layne Smith
Interim Transition Specialist
Hendersonville, North Carolina

Dr. Todd Gile
United Methodist
Trinity UMC
Evansville, Indiana

Dr. Margaret Oget
Associate Professor of New Testament
Decatur, Georgia

Dr. Karyn L. Wiseman
Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia
Associate Professor of Homiletics
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Dr. Rodney Petersen
Boston Theological Institute
Executive Director
Newton, Massachusetts

Dr. M. Shawn Copeland
Boston College
Professor of Systematic Theology
Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts

Dr. Tobias Winright
Saint Louis University
Hubert Maeder Chair of Health Care Ethics
St. Louis, Missouri

Dr. Mark J. Allman
Merrimack College
Professor, Chair, Religious and Theological Studies Department
North Andover, Massachusetts

Dr. Judye Pistole
First Presbyterian Church

Dr. Connie E Cochran
Paxton Presbyterian Church
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Dr. Tom Gregory
First Presbyterian Church
Wooster, Ohio

Dr. Joseph J. Fahey
Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice

Dr. Joel wright
Chair, Education Department
Gillette, Wyoming

Dr. Carol Lapp
Covenant Presbyterian
Augusta, Georgia

Dr. James Cogswell
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Rev. James Cogswell, PhD
Black Mountain, North Carolina

Dr. Samuel Massey
First Presbyterian Church, Iowa City, IA
Iowa City, IA

Dr. Davida Foy Crabtree
Florida Conference United Church of Christ
Interim Conference Minister
Orlando, FL

Dr. Gary Sturni
Retired Episcopal Priest
Pomfret, CT

Dr. Stephen Schneck
The Catholic University of America
Director, Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies
Washington, D.C.

Steve Knight
TransFORM Network
Founder and director
Charlotte, North Carolina

Dolores Christie
John Carroll University
University Heights, Ohio


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