Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) President Rev. Dr. Matthew Myer Boulton, speaking on behalf of the seminary’s Board of Trustees and Faculty, has formally announced the seminary’s opposition to Indiana’s House Joint Resolution 3 (HJR-3 formerly HJR-6), the proposed “marriage amendment” to the Indiana constitution. Boulton signed the Interfaith Coalition on Non-Discrimination (ICON) legislative letter opposing the amendment, and spoke during a Freedom Indiana press event held on Monday at the Indiana Statehouse Rotunda.
The announcement comes just as the Indiana legislature reconvenes for the session during which they will determine whether HJR-3 will be taken to voters for a referendum in 2014. HJR-3 would permanently alter the Indiana Constitution to define marriage, and at the same time would remove existing protections under law for same-sex and unmarried couples and families residing in Indiana. While concurring with the reasons cited by many Indiana businesses and higher education institutions for opposing HJR-3, including the chilling effect it would have on recruiting and retaining talented students and professionals in Indiana, Dr. Boulton emphasized that the school’s historic mission and core theological values compelled its leadership to speak out.
“The proposed amendment would certainly hinder efforts, by CTS and many others, to recruit and retain the best and brightest students, faculty, and staff to learn and eventually make their lives in Indiana,” Boulton said. “But the CTS Board of Trustees and Faculty have decided to oppose HJR-3 primarily for reasons related to our historic mission and core Christian values. For decades, CTS has stood for the inclusivity, hospitality, and justice for all so central to the ministry of Jesus Christ. Since our founding more than 150 years ago, we have endeavored to live out these values in response to the evolving issues of the day. With this announcement of the seminary’s opposition to HJR-3, the CTS Board of Trustees and Faculty carry on this venerable tradition.”
In 1855, CTS was originally founded – as North Western Christian University – by the abolitionist wing of the movement that would later become known as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). In the decades since, the school has continued to live out a commitment to justice and inclusion it traces back to Christian scripture.
“Jesus constantly sought out the marginalized,” said Rev. Dr. Edwin Aponte, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty. “One of the defining characteristics of his ministry was that he welcomed those whom others excluded. Asked to sum up the path his disciples should take, he said this: ‘Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself.’ In our view, including discrimination in our state constitution fundamentally contradicts the love of neighbor.”
“HJR-3 is not just bad public policy,” Dr. Boulton added. “It sends a message that stands at odds with values we at Christian Theological Seminary have cherished for decades. For us, this is therefore both an ethical and a spiritual issue, and the question is whether we will stand up for the inclusivity, hospitality, and justice at the heart of the Christian Gospel. Accordingly, the CTS Board of Trustees, Faculty, and Administration stand united in opposition to HJR-3.”
In signing the Interfaith Coalition on Non-Discrimination letter to Indiana’s legislature, CTS joins the voices of more than 300 leaders representing the Indiana faith community. The letter was delivered to the Indiana legislature by Freedom Indiana, a statewide, bi-partisan coalition of businesses, faith leaders, civil rights advocates, community organizations and individuals united to defeat HJR-3.
A collection of our photos from the event can be seen here