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Religious Liberty and Marriage

August 17, 2016: HILLIARD, OHIO — As promised in the wake of the June 2015 Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, the North American Lutheran Church is providing additional resources to assist its congregations. The resources are included in a single document, “Marriage Law and the Protection of Religious Liberty: Implications for Congregational Policies and Practices.” There are four parts to the document:

  • Doctrine on Marriage and Sexuality
  • employment practices
  • facilities use policies
  • policies related to parish schools

We urge all congregations to review the document and take appropriate steps to protect their religious liberties. Here are links to the document:


Word doc

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LCC–LCMS–NALC Statement on Scripture

July 28, 2016: HILLIARD, OHIO — As an important step forward in the ongoing consultation between representatives of the Lutheran Church–Canada, The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and the North American Lutheran Church, the participants who represented the three church bodies are releasing their joint statement on Holy Scripture, “God’s Word forever shall abide; A Guiding Statement on the Character and Proper Use of the Sacred Scriptures.”

Representatives of the three Lutheran church bodies have been meeting twice a year since late 2011, with conversations focused on similarities and differences, as well as topics of common concern. (read more…)

Download “God’s Word forever shall abide; A Guiding Statement on the Character and Proper Use of the Sacred Scriptures”

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Salzburg Declaration

May 2016: In September 2015, the International Christian Network (ICN) adopted the Salzburg Declaration at its annual theological conference. The ICN is a worldwide coalition of conservative communities and churches. Although inter-confessional, the ICN also reflects a strong Lutheran presence.

The Salzburg Declaration is a reaffirmation of the nature of human life from a traditional Christian perspective. (read more…)

Download Salzburg Declaration

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Against Physician-Assisted Suicide

May 2016: The NALC’s Commission on Theology and Doctrine has released an essay written by Dr. Robert Benne arguing against Physician-Assisted Suicide. This document is intended as a study resource for NALC members and congregations.

Download Dr. Benne’s essay speaking against Physician-Assisted Suicide.

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Letter of Counsel regarding Marriage and Religious Freedom

December 2015: The NALC’s Commission on Theology and Doctrine has approved a Letter of Counsel, written by Dr. Robert Benne, relating to marriage and religious freedom in light of the U.S. Supreme Court decision of June 26, 2015, in which in a 5-4 decision it held that: The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State. Regardless of whether we agree with the decision that finds a right to same-sex marriage in the Constitution, the fact is that now it is the law of the land. (…read more)

DOWNLOAD the Letter of Counsel

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Marriage Law and The Protection of Congregations’ Religious Liberty

June 26, 2015: The North American Lutheran Church today issued guidance to pastors and congregations in light of the recent decision by the US Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges. NALC pastors and congregations may be concerned about potential implications for their ministries. While that concern is very understandable, we urge NALC members not to panic. From a legal point of view, it is unlikely that church bodies, congregations, or pastors will be compelled to violate their religious beliefs by participation in the formalizing of same-sex unions. (…read more)

DOWNLOAD “Marriage Law and the Protection of Congregations’ Religious Liberty”

DOWNLOAD cover letter from Bishop John Bradosky and General Secretary Mark Chavez

DOWNLOAD a bulletin insert of the cover letter

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The Defense of Marriage and the Right of Religious Freedom: Reaffirming a Shared Witness

April 23, 2015: WASHINGTON—A few days before the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments on the rights of states to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, more than 30 religious leaders representing diverse faith communities throughout the United States have reaffirmed their shared commitment to marriage and religious freedom. An open letter entitled “The Defense of Marriage and the Right of Religious Freedom: Reaffirming a Shared Witness” was issued to all in positions of public service on April 23. (…read more)

DOWNLOAD the Open Letter

DOWNLOAD Background on Open Letter

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The Common Ground Christian Network calls American Christians to stand together

April 6, 2015: The Common Ground Christian Network calls American Christians to stand together as their religious liberties are threatened and as others face persecution across the globe. “The backlash to proposed religious freedom laws in Indiana, Arkansas and Georgia comes from a culture that is increasingly uncomfortable with Christians living out their faith in public. Bible-believing Christians must practically and prayerfully support each other,” Carmen Fowler LaBerge, President of the CGCN, said. “We must also stand together to support our Christian brothers and sisters in Kenya, Syria, Iraq, Nigeria and those places where the church faces physical threats and extermination.” (…read more)

DOWNLOAD the CGCN press release and statement

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Pastoral Letter from Bishop Bradosky on necessity of Baptism before Communion

October 2014: Bishop John Bradosky sent a letter to all pastors and congregations of the North American Lutheran Church summarizing the denomination’s stand on the necessity of being baptized before receiving Holy Communion.

Dear partners in ministry;

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

There is confusion and misunderstanding within the Body of Christ today, and especially within Lutheran churches, regarding the relationship between Holy Baptism and admission to the Lord’s Supper. This confusion weakens the public witness of the Church with regard to our Biblical and confessional understanding of the Holy Sacraments entrusted to the Church of Jesus Christ. For this reason, it is my desire to provide clear, concise, easily understood pastoral guidance to our congregations. I have consulted with members of our Joint Commission on Theology and Doctrine for this purpose. (…read more)

Download Bishop Bradosky’s letter about the necessity of Baptism before receiving Communion

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Christian Care for the Poor

October 2014: The constitution of the North American Lutheran Church authorizes the Joint Commission on Theology and Doctrine (JCTD) to “consider topics of a theological nature” and to “draft statements of a theological nature.”

In July 2014, the JCTD presented its document, a reflection piece on “Christian Care for the Poor” to the NALC Executive Council. For its part, the Executive Council reviewed the document and directed that it be distributed to the congregations of the NALC for study and reflection.

The Joint Commission on Theology and Doctrine hopes that both individuals and groups within NALC congregations will review the document and reflect prayerfully on the church’s concern for the poor among us. (…read more)

Read/download the “Christian Care for the Poor” document.

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Defending Religious Charities from President Obama’s Order

July 23, 2014: NALC Bishop John Bradosky and General Secretary Rev. Mark Chavez joined with other Christian leaders in signing a statement from the Common Ground Christian Network (CGCN) opposing President Obama’s July 21, 2014 executive order requiring all federal contractors to practice “nondiscrimination” based on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” The North American Lutheran Church is a member of the CGCN.

Read the CGCN letter here.

Additional resources: Statement by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

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Standing Together for Religious Freedom

July 2013: NALC Bishop John Bradosky has joined more than 100 prominent national religious leaders and scholars in signing an open letter to all Americans.

The letter, which was released on July 2, calls on the Administration and Congress to respect conscience rights and religious freedom. Signers represent a wide range of religious traditions. Christian signers ranged from Roman Catholics, Orthodox, and Lutherans to Baptists, Evangelicals, and Pentecostals.

Download a copy of the letter (including the list of signers and the text in Spanish).

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Bishop’s Response to U.S. Supreme Court Decisions Regarding Marriage

June 2013: While the decision of the court is not a complete surprise we were hoping for more than a ruling aligned with the popular opinion of our culture. Many of the basic tenets of our legal system are rooted in biblical principles. The laws of our nation were once established on transcendent truth and not simply what citizens were willing to tolerate. Contemporary decisions seem to be based on only the most recent cases, philosophies and political will. The historical foundation and connection to biblical principles is seldom raised or followed. The prevailing attitude is that the wisdom of man in contemporary culture is far superior to the wisdom of God. (read more)

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Affirmation of Marriage

May 2013: Seeking to provide clarity and express mutual agreement on what Scripture teaches about marriage and sexuality, the North American Lutheran Church has joined the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) and the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod in releasing “An Affirmation of Marriage.”

The statement is intended to provide clear, concise instruction to clergy and members of the participating denominations, but also to be an unequivocal affirmation of Biblical teaching with regard to marriage between male and female as an essential human foundation for home, family and society under the Church’s One foundation, which is Jesus Christ.

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Word of Counsel to the Church on the Sanctity of Nascent Life

December 2012: “The Lord Is with You” – A Word of Counsel to the Church on The Sanctity of Nascent Life is a new resource from The Joint Commission on Theology and Doctrine. Congregations and pastors of the NALC are invited to use this document as a resource for study and reflection on this important issue before the church and in our society.

Read also the cover letter about the Word of Counsel.

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Marriage and Religious Freedom: Fundamental Goods That Stand or Fall Together

January 2012: Religious Leaders Join Together in Support of Marriage, Religious Liberty — Leaders of some of the largest religious communities in the United States have joined together in an open letter to all Americans to voice their shared concern for marriage and religious freedom….Signatories include leaders from Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, Evangelical, Jewish, Lutheran, Mormon, and Pentecostal communities in the United States. Read more in the full news release.

FAQs | Letter in PDF format | Executive Summary

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