Conservative and religious leaders in the United States have responded to the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling that the Fourteenth Amendment requires all 50 states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, warning that the decision that will hurt religious liberty in America and lead to the persecution of Christians nationwide.
Speaking to conservative columnist Todd Starnes, Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said that in ruling in support of gay marriage, the Supreme Court knowingly chose to reject Biblical truths and endorse sin.
"I'm disappointed because the government is recognizing sin," he said. "This court is endorsing sin. That's what homosexuality is - a sin against God...I believe God could bring judgment upon America."
Graham added that Christians should be prepared for persecution in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's ruling.
"You better be ready and you better be prepared because it's coming. There will be persecution of Christians for our stand," he said.
Graham, who is also the president of Samaritan's Purse, said that regardless of the ruling, he will refuse to marry any same-sex couple.
"I will never recognize it in my heart because God gave marriage between a man and a woman and that's what marriage is," he said. "And I don't think the court - since it never defined marriage - doesn't have the right to redefine it. God gave us marriage. Period. And God doesn't change his mind."
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, also weighed in on the ruling, explaining that it was "improper" for the court to redefine an institution that has existed long before the creation of the government. Because of the court's ruling, Moore argues that there will be "wide-ranging consequences" for America's families and religious freedom.
"I believe this action of finding some illusory Fourteenth Amendment right to same-sex marriage will have wide-ranging and perilous consequences for the stability of families and for freedom of religion," Moore wrote. " In the wake of this decision, we must ensure that the American principles of pluralism and religious liberty are maintained, as the religious convictions of millions of Americans necessarily cause us to hold a different, more ancient, view of marriage than the one the Court has imposed. Additionally, today's decision reminds us of the importance of electing a president who knows how to appoint jurists rather than would-be legislators to the bench."
Like Graham, Moore added that Christians must not relent in their pressure to restore the traditional definition of marriage.
"Despite this ruling, the church of Jesus Christ will stand fast. We will not capitulate on this issue because we cannot. To minimize or ignore a Christian sexual ethic is to abandon the message Jesus handed down to us, and we have no authority to do this," Moore stated. "At the same time, now is not the time for outrage or panic. Marriage is resilient. God created it to be so. Marriage in the minds of the public may change, but marriage as a reality created by God won't change at all. The church must now articulate and embody a Christian vision of marriage and work to rebuild a culture of marriage."
In a statement released to the Gospel Herald, Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Jim Campbell said the court's ruling was a blatant abuse of judicial power.
"The Supreme Court has stripped all Americans of our freedom to debate and decide marriage policy through the democratic process. The freedom to democratically address the most pressing social issues of the day is the heart of liberty. The court took that freedom from the people and overrode the considered judgment of tens of millions of Americans who recently reaffirmed marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The court cast aside the understanding of marriage's nature and purpose that diverse cultures and faiths across the globe have embraced for millennia."
Brian S. Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), denounced the decision as "illegitimate" and "lawless" and vowed to "work at every turn" to reverse it.
"While today's decision of the Supreme Court is certainly disappointing, it is not demoralizing to those of us who fervently believe in the truth of marriage and its importance to societal flourishing. Indeed, the decision will be energizing. Just as the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v Wade infused the pro-life movement with new energy and commitment, so too will the decision today reawaken the American people to join the marriage movement," Brown wrote.
"Our prayer for America is that today's injustice can be corrected quickly, sparing the nation decades of anguish of the kind that has followed the Court's decision in Roe."
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins wrote in a statement that the court's ruling violates the Constitution's call for states to define their own marriage laws and in doing so caused "serious damage to its own legitimacy."
"No court can overturn natural law," Perkins wrote. "Nature and Nature's God, hailed by the signers of our Declaration of Independence as the very source of law, cannot be usurped by the edict of a court, even the United States Supreme Court."
"Americans will not stop standing for transcendent truth, nor accept the legitimacy of this decision," Perkins continued. "We will not lapse into silence but will continue to speak uncompromisingly for the truth about what marriage is, always has been, and always will be: the union of one man and one woman."
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said in a statement that the court's decision will serve as a "defacto and legal catalyst for the marginalization of Americans who embrace a biblical worldview."
"Accordingly, we must all work arduously to recognize the image of God in every individual, without exception, while simultaneously building a firewall against intolerance and bigotry toward followers of Christ who preach truth with love," Rodriguez stated. "For at the end of the day, I know for certain, that the moment biblical truth stands defined as hate speech in our nation, America, as we know her, will cease to exist."
In a statement released by Focus on the Family, president Jim Daly emphasized that no court can change the eternal truth that marriage is, and always has been, between a man and a woman.
"Regardless of today's decision, Focus on the Family will continue to address the importance of one man, one woman marriage to families, society and especially for children who have a right to both a mother and a father. We praise God for the opportunity to shine a light on His divine plan for the family during the years ahead," he wrote.
"In the days to come, we must remember to season our words with salt. It's time to be a light in these dark times. It is not time to be combative and caustic. Now, more than ever, we must emulate Jesus Christ. We must continue to show that loving kindness as we talk with our neighbors and friends who see this issue differently."