Trditional Marriage News

Monday, May 5, 2014
May 5, 2014

Bishop Gene Robinson from the U.S. the only openly gay bishop in the Anglican church speaks on his phone as he tours the "market place" a collection of stalls run by Christian organizations on the fringes of the Lambeth Conference in Cantebury, southern England July 21, 2008. Robinson has been barred from attending the Lambeth conference, a meeting of bishops of the Anglican faith held once every 10 years, but is taking part in activities on the sidelines of the meeting.

Gene Robinson, retired Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire and the first openly gay priest elected as a bishop in a major Christian organization, announced this past weekend that he is divorcing Mark, his partner of 25 years.

Robinson first revealed his decision in an email to the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire on Saturday.

"It is time to share with you, our diocesan family, that my partner and husband of 25+ years, Mark, and I have decided to be divorced. As you can imagine, this is a difficult time for us – not a decision entered into lightly or without much counseling. I'm sure that you will understand the private nature of this change in our lives and our commitment to keeping those details appropriately private," said Robinson in the note.

"Our life and ministry among you continues to be something that both of us count as an honor and blessing.
We ask for your prayers, that the love and care for each other that has characterized our relationship for a quarter century will continue in the difficult days ahead," he explained.

The retired bishop, who is now a senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., elaborated on his decision in the Daily Beast on Sunday, explaining he does not know if the path he is taking is right or wrong. He said, however, that he had faith that if God could bring salvation from the crucifixion of Christ, something good will come from his divorce from Mark.

"While I would never remotely compare myself to Jesus, I do know that I too have to move forward without knowing whether the steps I am taking are in the right or wrong direction. I too need to take care of relationships, in the midst of my own pain. (No, it's not all about me.) And I need to be an active participant in my own destiny," he said.

"Most importantly, I need to hold on to the belief that God will have the last word, and that word is hope. If God can bring an Easter out of that awful, long-ago Good Friday, then God can bring new life to me and Mark out of the pain of our parting company," he noted. "That is my faith, even if the pain of the present moment is too excruciating to envision what it might be. Mark and I will need, and welcome, the prayers of our friends and the support of our community."

Friday, May 2, 2014
May 1, 2014|2:12 pm

The conservative Roman Catholic organization TFP Student Action holding a pro-traditional marriage table at the campus of the University of Notre Dame in April 2014.

A conservative Roman Catholic group has accused the University of Notre Dame of repression after police reportedly shut down a pro-traditional marriage table they held on campus.

TFP Student Action twice had their display on the Catholic academic institute's campus removed at the behest of police last week.

John Ritchie, spokesman for TFP Student Action, told The Christian Post the display was part of "a seven-day tour for marriage in three states: Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania."

"Working with the Orestes Brownson Council, a Catholic student club on campus, a table was reserved outside DeBartolo Hall on April 24," said Ritchie.

"That morning, while the pro-marriage table was being very well received by the majority of Notre Dame students, two police officers suddenly arrived and told us we had to pack up and leave. They stated that our permission to be on campus was not official enough."

According to Ritchie, Notre Dame's Student Activities Office said it was a "misunderstanding" and gave them the go-ahead to have the display put up again the following day.

"This time, a round of emails had been sent around, advising Notre Dame police officials that we would be returning in the morning. Everything seemed OK. I even called the campus police department before setting up and was assured that it would be 'absolutely' fine," said Ritchie.

"But apparently it wasn't fine. Because the table was shut down again. This time, the police said the table had approval, but not the people with the table."

The conservative Roman Catholic organization TFP Student Action holding a pro-traditional marriage table at the campus of the University of Notre Dame in April 2014.

When asked by CP if he planned to protest this treatment before Notre Dame officials, Ritchie of TFP responded that it would be "pointless to complain."

"Political correctness seems to trump the truth at most universities today, sadly even at Notre Dame," said Ritchie.

Dennis Brown, spokesman for Notre Dame, told CP that the issue regarding the TFP Student Action display had nothing to do with their ideological bent, but rather the fact that they are not a recognized campus student organization.

"Our request to have TPF leave had nothing to do with the topic and everything to do with simply adhering to our policies," said Brown.

"We've done exactly the same thing, including arrests, with outside groups that have attempted to come on campus to make statements that run the gamut of the ideological and political spectrum. We welcome the free expression of ideas on our campus, but it needs to be done in accord with our policies."

Brown explained that the student group Orestes Brownson Council is recognized and had gotten permission to have a pro-traditional marriage display.

"Our policies explicitly state that only members of the university community may organize or lead such events on campus," said Brown.

"When university officials learned that, contrary to our policies, the student group made this request on behalf of an outside organization, TFP Student Action, we asked that its members leave."

Brown added that "TFP Student Action also was in violation of the University's video and photography policy."

"It failed to get permission to shoot on campus, and it recorded videos and took photos of people without their permission," said Brown.


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A coalition of clergy members filed a novel federal lawsuit Monday against North Carolina's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, saying it violates their religious freedom.

The clergy members said that they'd like to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies in their congregations, but that they can't because of the "unjust law." Their attorney, Jake Sussman, says it's the only case to bring the First Amendment religious freedom claims among the more than 60 marriage equality cases pending in the nation's state and federal courts.

"North Carolina's marriage laws are a direct affront to freedom of religion," said the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, executive minister with the Cleveland-based United Church of Christ, which is a plaintiff in the lawsuit. "We feel that it is important that any person that comes into community life of a United Church of Christ congregation be afforded equal pastoral care and equal opportunity to religious services that clergy provide."

But in North Carolina, clergy are often faced with a troubling decision: "whether to provide those services or break the law," he said. "That's something no clergy member should be faced with."

Along with United Church of Christ, which has more than 1 million parishioners, a dozen clergy members and same sex-couples who want to marry were listed as plaintiffs. The defendants included North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper and several county district attorneys as well as five registers of deeds.

Noelle Talley, a spokeswoman with the attorney general's office, said officials there hadn't seen the lawsuit yet.

Wake County Register of Deeds Laura Riddick said she was shocked to be named as a defendant. Her office handles marriage licenses.

"It's ridiculous for any registry to be sued over same-gender marriage, which is a matter of state law, not county policy. Only the legislature or the courts can change the law. Our job as county administrators is to apply the law as it is, just as we will apply the law if it changes. Suing us misleads the public, wastes county taxpayer dollars and creates unnecessary conflict," she said.

This isn't the first legal challenge to North Carolina's law banning same-sex marriage, which was approved by voters in 2012.

The American Civil Liberties Union earlier this month launched a new legal assault on the state's ban on recognizing same-sex marriage, urging a federal judge to quickly negate it to help children and gay couples suffering from urgent health problems. The civil rights group said it was seeking to speed up a decision in a lawsuit filed in 2012 by citing the urgent health needs of a child who suffers from cerebral palsy who was adopted by one of the lesbian couples involved in the case.

The ACLU also filed a new lawsuit on behalf of three other lesbian couples struggling with health conditions made more difficult because they lack legal recognition of their marriages performed in other states, said ACLU staff attorney Elizabeth Gill.

The ACLU and the same-sex couples they represent argue a judge should act quickly to suspend North Carolina's marriage ban because they are suffering immediate and irreparable harm.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that the federal government must recognize marriages of same-sex couples.

Seventeen states allow gay marriage, and federal judges have struck down bans in Michigan, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia.

"This lawsuit introduces a First Amendment claim that the marriage ban in North Carolina violates the right to the free exercise of religious beliefs by denominations, clergy and congregants who believe that same sex marriages are theologically valid and want to perform marriage ceremonies," Sussman said.

But NC Values Coalition executive director Tami Fitzgerald, who helped lead a coalition of Christian and conservative groups supporting the state's 2012 constitutional amendment, said the lawsuit is an attempt to void the will of voters who backed traditional marriage. Six in 10 voters backed changing North Carolina's constitution.

"This is sadly, and predictably, the 'lawsuit of the week' filed by those who want to impose same-sex marriage on North Carolina," Fitzgerald said. "Moreover, it's both ironic and sad that an entire religious denomination and its clergy who purport holding to Christian teachings on marriage would look to the courts to justify their errant beliefs."

poll released last week shows most Republican voters remain firmly rooted in opposition to same-sex marriage. American Values President Gary Bauer told CBS News that there's "definitely movement" toward broader support for redefining marriage but he pointed to the 2012 vote banning same-sex marriage in North Carolina, adding, "I do not agree that it's as pronounced as some of the polling data seems to suggest."

"The day before the vote, the side in favor of allowing same-sex marriage in North Carolina had a double-digit lead; it didn't even look like it would be close," he said. "When people voted the next day, in fact my side won by double digits.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014
April 28, 2014|5:05 pm

Dan Haseltine, frontman for Christian rock band Jars of Clay, explained that he was not dismissing Scripture after conservatives accused him of supporting same-sex marriage in a Twitter conversation. He admitted he chose his words "poorly" but said he wanted to open up dialogue on a topic that he just began to ponder.

"In the heat of discussion, I communicated poorly and thus unintentionally wrote that I did not care about what scripture said," Haseltine wrote Friday on his blog. "Thus, the tsunami hit. It was picked up by bloggers and written into editorials before I could blink. And rightly so, people were shocked and offended by my statement dismissing the value of scripture. I got it. And possibly, I got what that combination of statements warranted for response. I should've chosen my words more wisely.

"I care about what scripture says. It matters."

Haseltine explained that he began thinking about gay marriage after he was invited to sit in a panel discussion on moral behavior and the church earlier this month as part of a music festival in Australia. The discussion turned to gay marriage, which he said he had "not given much attention to" previously.

"I knew it was a focal topic for many people in the church, and that it was a major issue in the growing partisanship of American politics, I just had not had the opportunity to think about it much," he wrote.

After a few days of pondering the issue and asking questions he didn't have the answer to, particularly after watching the film "12 Years a Slave," he went to Twitter.

"I don't particularly care about Scriptures stance on what is 'wrong.' I care more about how it says we should treat people," and "Just curious what 'condoning a persons homosexuality' does. Does it change you? Does it hurt someone? What is behind the conviction?" were some of the posts he wrote.

The posts attracted a lot of controversy on social media, and conservatives such as author and syndicated radio talk show host Michael Brown wrote in a Christian Post op-ed that "the only reason we're talking about redefining marriage today is because we are well down that slope already."

"My brother, as an influential Christian leader, you have a tremendous responsibility before the Lord to those who follow you, especially to impressionable, young believers, and you have not acted wisely by opening up a volatile discussion like this on Twitter," Brown said, addressing the vocalist.

"Were there no godly leaders you could counsel with privately? Was it good stewardship of your popularity and influence to announce your views on Twitter and then expect a substantive dialogue delimited by 140 character tweets? Are subjects like the meaning of marriage and the authority of God's Word in the life of a Christian now decided by who can come up with the catchier sound bite?"

Haseltine apologized for creating a "negative stir" and said it also affected the rest of his band. "[T]hough they were my questions and it was a dialogue provoked by me, it bled into the Jars of Clay world, and my other band mates felt people's dismay, frustration and the projection of my views and ideas back on to them. It is not theirs to shoulder," he wrote.

The music artist said he realized that "the issue I had chosen to discuss was far too personal, nuanced, and deeply connected to faith and our human condition to honor the amount of wrestling that others have done on this topic."

He also realized Twitter was a "poor venue" for such a debate.

Explaining some of the questions he was pondering before he tweeted, he wrote, "Having grown up in the Christian church, I have observed and perpetrated many acts that originated out of fear. In my career as an artist, musician, and storyteller, I have attempted to illuminate fear-based behavior in the church.

"I have attempted to provide questions that could lead to a more love based approach. This has meant taking a careful and often critical view of contemporary church behavior and culture. At times this has led me to unproductive and unfair assessments of the church culture. Other times, it has helped me navigate around unhealthy environments and practices that could have caused me to hurt people."

He wrote that he wanted to figure out if he had a "blind spot" and if he was buying into a form of oppression.

"Or does the legalization of gay marriage actually undermine traditional marriage and the biblical view of how we are called to live our lives?" he asked.

"So… yes, the implications and applications of answers to these hard questions are staggeringly important. And my engagement of the issue of just under 3 days left me very under equipped to answer my own questions."

He explained his thinking behind some of his tweets, including the "right and wrong" comment: "In my latest conversation on Twitter, I knew that the immediate response to questions about the gay community would be about whether gay sex was wrong or right. I do think this is a part of the issue, but I wanted to talk about other areas, and having just been on a panel discussing the ways the church's focus on moral behavior undermines its ability to love, I didn't want to get stuck on the 'moral right or wrong' part and stall any ability to talk about other aspects of the issue."

Jars of Clay acknowledged the controversy on their Facebook page, calling it a "heated week," but said that they would keep the comments section open on the page.

"Our passion has been and is- to help set a table that invites ALL to come, engage, respond- and deleting comments would inhibit that. However, we ask you to be civil, and respect the human dignity in each other regardless of whether you agree with them or not," the band wrote.

The Christian band, founded in 1993, has released 11 studio albums and has won both Grammy Awards and GMA Dove Awards.

Monday, April 28, 2014
April 24, 2014|2:30 pm

A group of 58 same-sex marriage supporters signed a public statement condemning the gay marriage activists who have sought to punish, rather than persuade, those who disagree with them.

"The test of our commitment to liberal principles is not our eagerness to hear ideas we share, but our willingness to consider seriously those we oppose," reads the statement, published Tuesday at RealClearPolitics.

The statement specifically mentions the recent forced resignation of Brendan Eich as CEO of Mozilla. Some same-sex marriage supporters successfully led a campaign to have him removed from that position because he donated $1,000 to the 2008 California campaign to define marriage as between one man and one woman. (That campaign was successful but later struck down by the courts.)

According to the statement, the signers support same-sex marriage, and many of them "have worked for it, in some cases for a large portion of our professional and personal lives." But, they "also affirm our unwavering commitment to the values of the open society and to vigorous public debate ...."

The statement notes that there is no evidence that Eich discriminated against LGBT employees at Mozilla. Rather, he was punished for his involvement in the political process, a process that, the signers say, should be cherished.

"We cannot wish away the objections of Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith traditions, or browbeat them into submission. Even in our constitutional system, persuasion is a minority's first and best strategy. It has served us well and we should not be done with it," they wrote.

Everyone should have the freedom to express their views, even when they are unpopular, the statement says while noting that support for same-sex marriage was once the unpopular view: "The freedom -- not just legal but social -- to express even very unpopular views is the engine that propelled the gay-rights movement from its birth against almost hopeless odds two generations ago. A culture of free speech created the social space for us to criticize and demolish the arguments against gay marriage and LGBT equality. For us and our advocates to turn against that culture now would be a betrayal of the movement's deepest and most humane values."

Support for traditional marriage is not hate speech, the statement continues.

"It can be expressed hatefully, but it can also be expressed respectfully. We strongly believe that opposition to same-sex marriage is wrong, but the consequence of holding a wrong opinion should not be the loss of a job. Inflicting such consequences on others is sadly ironic in light of our movement's hard-won victory over a social order in which LGBT people were fired, harassed and socially marginalized for holding unorthodox opinions."

The statement was signed by Republicans, Democrats and independents who come from a wide range of ideological viewpoints, some of whom have already publicly condemned the actions that led to Eich's resignation.

They include: William Galston and Jonathan Rauch of The Brookings Institution; former Arizona congressman Jim Kolbe, the second openly gay Republican to serve in Congress; Ken Mehlman, the former chair of the Republican National Committee who later announced he was gay and who was instrumental in convincing President Barack Obama to publicly acknowledge his change in position on gay marriage; Charles Murray, Norm Ornstein and Christina Hoff Sommers of the American Enterprise Institute; Will Saletan, a writer for Slate; and Andrew Sullivan, a long time advocate of same-sex marriage.

Thursday, April 24, 2014
April 24, 2014|7:33 am

W. Bradford Wilcox, AEI visiting scholar and associate professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, where he directs the National Marriage Project.

WASHINGTON—College students with fathers who were involved in their lives were 98 percent more likely to graduate than students with uninvolved fathers. This was one of the findings presented Wednesday by W. Bradford Wilcox at an American Enterprise Institute presentation, "Graduation day: How dads' involvement impacts higher education success."

Wilcox is an AEI visiting scholar and associate professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, where he directs the National Marriage Project. His data came from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which first interviewed a nationally representative sample of adolescents in 1994-'95, and has interviewed the same group three additional times, most recently in 2008.

The study had several questions that Wilcox used to measure paternal involvement. Respondents were asked how involved their fathers were in their sports activities, helping with homework and talking about personal problems, for instance.

Eighteen percent of the sample reported no involvement from their fathers. The remaining 82 percent were divided into three equal size groups: less involved, involved and highly involved. Those with involved fathers were 98 percent more likely than the uninvolved fathers group to graduate college, and those with highly involved fathers were 105 percent more likely to graduate college than the group with uninvolved fathers. Biological, adoptive and step fathers were all included in the same category for those results.

Marriage made a difference, though. Students whose biological father was married, and stayed married, to their birth mother were more likely to report their father was involved or highly involved in their lives, Wilcox found.

Wilcox also found some class differences in the data. Using the mother's education as a proxy for socioeconomic status, those with a mother who was a college graduate were more likely to have biological, married parents who stayed together and to have a father who was highly involved. Those whose mother was a high school dropout were less likely to have involved fathers and less likely to be raised by their married birth parents.

Wilcox suggested four possible reasons that fathers make a big difference in college graduation:

1) Dads can provide educational stimulus. This can be through helping with homework or simply through their everyday interactions with their children.

2) Families with fathers have more financial stability, which can help pay for private schooling or housing in better school districts. It could also be that dads who have a strong connection to their children are more likely to devote a high amount of financial resources to their college costs.

3) Research shows that dads have different parenting styles than moms. Fathers are more likely to push their children to embrace difficult challenges, for instance. This contribution may "help kids face difficult assignments, take on important opportunities" that could help them in college.

4) Dads protect their kids from situations that could hurt their chances at getting a college education. Research has shown that boys who have a good relationship with their father are less likely to engage in delinquent behavior and girls who have a good relationship with their father are less likely to get pregnant while a teenager.

The presentation included three discussants: Kay Hymowitz, the William E. Simon Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, Patrick Patterson, who manages President Barack Obama's National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, and Richard Yoder, a first-year Jefferson Scholar at the University of Virginia.

You can watch the full presentation below:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

American Values, FRC Release New Poll Showing GOP Voters Want Politicians to Support Natural Marriage

WASHINGTON, D.C. (04-22-14) – American Values and Family Research Council (FRC) released the results of a commissioned national survey conducted by Wilson Research Strategies showing that 82 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning independents believe marriage "should be defined only as a union between one man and one woman." In fact, 74 percent strongly agreed with this statement.

The same survey found that the voters want their elected leaders to promote this view in public policy: 75 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning independent voters disagree that "politicians should support the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples."  67 percent strongly disagreed with this statement. 

American Values President Gary Bauer made the following comments in response to the survey:

"Public policy makers are doing a great disservice to themselves and future generations by continuing to misread the convictions of the American people, who overwhelmingly support the institution of marriage as a unique union of one man and one woman. The misinformation campaign waged by media elites muddies the debate and attempts to isolate those who support the time-honored traditions and values shared by every major world religion throughout human history.

"Incredibly, the debate is no longer about privacy and tolerance.  Religious liberty, free speech and rights of conscience are now at stake. This survey should remind political and cultural leaders that this debate is far from over.  If anything, it is taking on a new sense of urgency for millions of men and women of faith."

FRC President Tony Perkins made the following comments:

"Republican voters continue to resist the demands of cultural elites who want to see the party abandon the very core values that gave rise to American exceptionalism.   The vast majority of the GOP base continues to believe that marriage is a non-negotiable plank of the national platform and want to see their elected officials uphold natural marriage as the national standard, a goal to stand for, encourage and promote in law. 

"The results of this survey are no surprise especially considering what has taken place in recent months. Republican voters, like everyone else, has seen that redefining marriage is really about fundamentally altering all of society. Redefining marriage undermines our fundamental freedoms of speech and religion and in the case of the Mozilla CEO, even the ability to engage in the democratic process without the fear of losing one's livelihood."

To view the results of the survey, click here

Tuesday, April 22, 2014
By MAGGIE HABERMAN | 4/22/14 6:01 AM EDT

Two conservative groups are pushing back on moves by the GOP to drop opposition to same-sex marriage from party platforms, releasing a poll of base voters taken last month that found in favor of defining marriage “only” as between a man and a woman.

The poll, commissioned by groups led by conservatives Gary Bauer and Tony Perkins, runs counter to a wide variety of opinion polls that show movement on the question of same-sex marriage, with more voters favoring it than opposing it.

Last week, the Nevada GOP removed opposition to same-sex marriage from its platform, with the state chairman saying the move was indicative of where the party is headed.

The survey by the GOP polling firm Wilson Research Strategies was of Republican and Republican-leaning independents and was taken over a month ago, sampling 801 people from March 18 through March 20, with a 3.5 percent margin of error.

The survey showed 82 percent agreeing with a statement that marriage should be between “one man and one woman.” It also found 75 percent disagreed that “politicians should support the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples.”

A number of Republican influentials and elected officials have voiced support for same-sex marriage, and public polling has show independent voters increasingly supporting it.

At the recent Conservative Political Action Committee gathering in Maryland, the topic was mentioned far less frequently than it was in the past. But same-sex marriage supporters acknowledge it remains a difficult issue with a number of the party’s base voters, although they’ve argued for focusing on inclusion to broaden the GOP’s appeal after getting battered in the 2012 elections.

Bauer, the president of American Values, faulted a “misinformation campaign waged by media elites” and insisted that “public policy-makers are doing a great disservice to themselves and future generations by continuing to misread the convictions of the American people … this survey should remind political and cultural leaders that this debate is far from over. If anything, it is taking on a new sense of urgency for millions of men and women of faith.”

Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, added that the “vast majority of the GOP base continues to believe that marriage is a non-negotiable plank of the national platform and want to see their elected officials uphold natural marriage as the national standard, a goal to stand for, encourage and promote in law.”


Monday, April 21, 2014

In a speech earlier this week, Lisa O. Monaco, President Barack Obama’s assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism, insisted that American parents must be vigilant because their “confrontational” children could be on the verge of becoming terrorists.

Monaco’s full, prepared text is available here. She presented the speech, entitled “Countering Violent Extremism and the Power of Community,” at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government on April 15.

Monaco began her remarks by eloquently describing the lives tragically lost last year during the Boston Marathon bombings. Interestingly, the Harvard grad failed to mention the religion or the motive of brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the Muslim terrorists behind the Boston bombings.

In the very next paragraph, Monaco specifically noted racist and disgustingly anti-Semitic beliefs of Frazier Glenn Miller, the 73-year-old former Ku Klux Klan leader accused of gunning down three people at a Jewish Community Center in Kansas last Sunday.

The White House bureaucrat then settled into the heart of her speech: That Obama “has been laser-focused” on preventing “violent extremism” “by homegrown violent extremists” right here “in the United States.”

The president can’t do it all, though. He needs “local communities” to assist in observing “warning signs a person” is becoming “radicalized to violence.”

This is where the American parents of American children in America’s towns, cities and countryside can provide the greatest assistance, Monaco said.

“For instance, parents might see sudden personality changes in their children at home—becoming confrontational,” she asserted.


Schoolteachers and community members can help as well.

“Teachers might hear a student expressing an interest in traveling to a conflict zone overseas,” she added—in an ambiguous allusion to various religious conflicts around the world.

“Or friends might notice a new interest in watching or sharing violent material.”

Monaco then went on to explain some of the localized initiatives that various government entities have initiated to thwart terrorist activities in the United States.


Thursday, April 17, 2014
April 16, 2014|5:04 pm

President Barack Obama met with several faith leaders at the Oval Office on Tuesday to discuss what he called a "broken" immigration system. They highlighted the pain it has caused families and called on Congress to come to a bipartisan agreement for change.

"I disagree with the President on some serious issues of human life, marriage, and religious liberty, but this is one issue where the country isn't divided up into red and blue. I don't know anyone who thinks the status quo immigration policy is working," said Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

"Our border isn't secure, we don't know who is and who isn't in the country, and we have families torn apart by an incoherent and capricious system. I encouraged the President to work with Republicans to get beyond partisan bickering and fix this broken system."

The U.S. immigration system has been a contentious issue throughout Obama's presidency. The White House, Christian groups, and bipartisan efforts have repeatedly called on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, though House Speaker John Boehner has warned that Republican distrust of Obama's administration is making it difficult to move forward with legislation.

Obama thanked the faith leaders for their leadership on the issue and expressed his commitment to seeing through immigration reform.

"The President expressed deep concern about the pain too many families feel from the separation that comes from our broken immigration system," a White House readout of the meeting said.

"He emphasized that while his Administration can take steps to better enforce and administer immigration laws, nothing can replace the certainty of legislative reform and this permanent solution can only be achieved by Congress."

The faith leaders present at Tuesday's meeting, including representatives from the Evangelical and Mormon faiths, emphasized the real human cost for families and communities waiting for reform.

Noel Castellanos, CEO of Christian Community Development Association, Chicago, said that the meeting was an opportunity to share the need to "end the suffering" of 11 million men, women and children caught in America's "broken" immigration system.

"We discussed the urgency for House members to take action before the August recess for the sake of immigrant families and our nation. Let us continue to pray and impress this need on our legislators to act now," Castellanos said.

Dr. Suzii Paynter, executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Atlanta, said the U.S. needs to meet at the "intersection of moral conscience and common sense" to pass immigration reform.

"Congress has the tools to act and, as people of conviction, people of faith are in agreement that common sense measures can be taken," Paynter said.

"There is a place to honor the God-given dignity of persons, honor the rule of law, ensure fairness to taxpayers, and seek a path towards recognition for immigrants."

Earlier in April, former Florida governor Jeb Bush suggested that illegal immigrants are not committing a felony, but are breaking the law out of love and commitment to family.

"It's an act of love. It's an act of commitment to your family," Bush said in an interview on "Fox News Sunday."

"I honestly think that that is a different kind of crime. There should be a price paid, but it shouldn't rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families," he added.