The Common Ground Christian Network calls American Christians to Stand Together

For Immediate Release

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.”

 

Meeting in Washington D.C. in March, the CGCN’s recent meeting focused on issues of religious liberties in North America and globally. Retired VA Representative Frank Wolf addressed the group and told of his new 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative that advocates religious freedoms.

 

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Retired Congressman Frank Wolf (Center) with members of the Common Ground Christian Network.

 

The meeting included representatives of denominations and individual congregations including Anglicans (ACNA), Presbyterians (PCA, PCUSA, EPC, ECO) Methodists (UMC), and Lutherans (NALC) as well as para-church ministries. Speakers from the Family Research Council, The Institute for Global Engagement, the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the Institutional religious Freedom Alliance and others conveyed the various kinds of threats Christians face. From physical persecution in Africa and the Middle East, to legal intimidation in Europe and North America, the group discussed the many ways religious liberties are restricted.

 

“As hostility toward Christians increases overseas and at home, Religious Freedom Restoration Acts and even the First Amendment won’t be able to protect us. Working together across denominational lines should be a top priority and will strengthen our message of the good news of Jesus Christ,” LaBerge said.

 

The 2-day meeting concluded with the CGCN unanimously adopting the following statement of solidarity with persecuted Christians around the world.

 

Statement of Solidarity with Persecuted Christians around the World
Common Ground Christian Network
Approved, March 10, 2015

 

As members of the one Body of Christ, and knowing that we are exhorted by Holy Scriptures to do good to all, especially to those of the household of faith, (Galatians 6: 10) the Common Ground Christian Network, a coalition of Christians standing together for the cause of Christ, declares its solidarity with Christians around the world, persecuted for the sake of the Gospel.

 

When one part of the Body suffers, every part suffers with it (1 Corinthians 12: 26). We grieve for the persecution of Christians everywhere, and especially of fellow believers who are threatened with cultural cleansing and genocide at this very moment:

 

  • Middle Eastern Christians – forced to flee their ancestral homes and watch the eradication of their very identity – men, women, and children who are being tortured, enslaved, and slaughtered by ISIS as it works for the expansion of an Islamic Caliphate;
  • Northern Nigerian Christians – under constant threat by Boko Haram – whose villages are attacked and burned, displacing hundreds of thousands, and whose churches are bombed, men slaughtered, and girls taken as slaves;

and

  • Christians in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile State – targeted for destruction by their own government – forced by the Islamic Republic of Sudan’s constant aerial bombardment and attacks by militias to flee as refugees, or to hide in caves or bush, facing government-orchestrated starvation.

 

We denounce the evil that destroys life and wages war against Christ and His Church, and we denounce the apathy and passivity that allow it to perpetuate. We commit to intentional, sustained prayer, waging spiritual warfare against this evil. We will speak out on behalf of those whose voices have been silenced or sidetracked. And we will take action on their behalf through organizations providing direct aid, and in our churches, communities, and government.

 

Background

The Common Ground Christian Network is a group of denominations, organizations, congregations, and individuals who believe that 21st century Christians need to stand together for the cause of Christ.  We come from different denominational and theological traditions, but these distinctives are respected and appreciated, not a cause for division among us.  The common ground upon which we stand is the affirmation of classical orthodox Christianity. Learn more at www.CommonGroundChristian.com

 

Media contact:
Jessica Lalley
jlalley@layman.org
404-273-4968

Defending Religious Charities from President Obama’s Order

 

We the Common Ground Christian Network affirm the dignity and value of every human being and we oppose President Obama’s July 21, 2014 executive order which seeks to limit the free exercise of religion by organizations doing business with the federal government. The order compels all federal contractors, including religious organizations, to practice “nondiscrimination” based on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”  While designed to proscribe discrimination, the order actually sanctions it by punishing those whose faith-driven convictions the government does not approve.

 

The First Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees the free exercise of religion, includes religion-based ethics in the workplace. The President’s executive order would force Christian charities and other religious groups, whose services are always extended without discrimination, to hire people whose lifestyles do not conform to the religious beliefs of the organization. This includes the historic biblical Christian teaching that sex is for marriage between husband and wife.  It also violates the First Amendment’s disestablishment clause by endorsing “transgender” ideology, the assertion that individuals can reinvent their own self-perceived “gender identity,” irrespective of physical reality.  Christians whose faith aligns with historic, biblical Christianity consider this ideology to be Gnostic in its elevation of mind and feelings over biology.

 

By excluding many religious charitable and educational organizations from government contracts, this executive order will harm the poor and needy who often benefit from the unique expertise and compassion that religious groups offer.  More broadly, this executive order represents a growing intolerance for expressions of historic biblical religious faith in public life.  Ultimately the order undermines freedom of speech, conscience and religion for all Americans by coercively imposing through a discriminatory government policy a secular ideology that displaces traditional religious faith and family life.

 

As Christians and leaders of religious institutions affirming liberty for all persons, religious or not, we pray and hope for judicial and legislative corrections to this misguided executive order.  We declare our own commitment to the teachings of historic orthodox Christianity about marriage, sex, gender and the human body.  And we decry any government discrimination waged against religious groups under the purported banner of “nondiscrimination.”

The Common Ground Christian Network (CGCN)

  • The Very Rev. B. Keith Allen, Mid-South Anglican Convocation (ADOTS)
  • Sara L. Anderson, Bristol House, Ltd.
  • The Rev. Canon J. Philip Ashey, Chief Executive Officer,  American Anglican Council
  • Rev. Dr. Mark D. Atkinson, Pastor
  • Dr. Robert Benne, Roanoke College
  • The Rev. James D. Berkley, Pastor
  • Marie Bowen, Presbyterians Pro-Life
  • Bishop John F. Bradosky, North American Lutheran Church
  • The Rev. Mark Chavez, North American Lutheran Church
  • Father Chris Colby
  • The Rev. Sue Cyre, Presbyterians for Faith, Family and Ministry; Theology Matters
  • The Rev. James V. Heidinger II, President and Publisher, emeritus, the Good News Movement
  • The Rev. Chuck Huckaby, Pastor
  • The Rev. Dr. Jerry Kirk, The Prayer Covenant
  • The Rev. Robert Kopp, Remnant movement, PCUSA
  • Carmen Fowler LaBerge, Presbyterian Lay Committee; Chairman of CGCN
  • The Rev. W. Scott Lamb, pastor and literary agent
  • The Rev. Tom Lambrecht, Good News Movement
  • Viola Larson, Christian worldview blogger
  • Martha Leatherman, Presbyterians Pro-Life
  • Mary Van Driest, Vice President of the Board, Presbyterians ProLife
  • The Rev. Alex McFarland, The Center for Apologetics & Christian Worldview, North Greenville University
  • The Rev. Dr. Ron Rand, UpBuilding Ministries
  • The Rev. Kevin C. Rudolph, Windwood Presbyterian Church
  • Jack Sharpe, Esq., Presbyterians Pro-Life
  • The Rev. Terry P. Simm, Pastor
  • The Rev. Paul T. Stallsworth, Lifewatch
  • David M. Stanley, The Institute on Religion and Democracy; United Methodist Action
  • Jean Leu Stanley, United Methodist Action
  • The Rev. W. Stevens Shipman, Director, Lutheran Coalition for Renewal
  • The Rev. Roy Taylor, Presbyterian Church in America
  • Dr. Ken Thomas, EPC Pastor & Board Member of OneByOne
  • Mark Tooley, The Institute for Religion and Democracy
  • The Rev. Jeffrey Winter, Pastor
  • The Rev. Dr. Randy Working, Pastor

(organizations are listed for identification purposes only)

 

Additional resources:

Reactions from other faith leaders

 

June 25 letter from the National Association of Evangelicals urging President to include exemption for religious organizations

July 2 letter by other faith leaders urging President to include exemption for religious organizations