Churches recognition for traditional marriage to be stressed February 22
By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
RALEIGH – Congregants in hundreds of churches across North Carolina will hear the good Word about marriage on Feb. 22 as pastors rise to the challenge issued by NC4Marriage, a statewide coalition working to get a Marriage Protection Amendment bill passed by the General Assembly.
“We are asking pastors to preach about marriage, to give the Biblical admonitions against homosexuality and then to mention to their congregations the marriage campaign and how they can get involved in it,” explained Tami Fitzgerald, executive director for NC4Marriage.
As the only state in the Southeast without a constitutional amendment affirming marriage as between a man and a woman, North Carolina is vulnerable to legal attacks from homosexual couples who could file suit at any point to overturn marriage laws as unconstitutional because they do not allow for same-sex legal unions. Polls show 71 percent of North Carolinians support a constitutional Marriage Amendment, but Tar Heel residents will not have a chance to cast a ballot on the matter unless the leaders of the Legislature allow their fellow lawmakers to vote on the bill.
Bills calling for a Marriage Amendment on the ballot have been introduced in the General Assembly for the past five years, and even though a majority of House members and a third of all Senators sponsored the bills, they were not allowed to the floor for a vote. That’s one reason NC4Marriage and supporters across North Carolina are pressing the issue through a grassroots campaign which will initially rely heavily on churches and pastors speaking out on the issue.
Among those are the Dr. Michael Cloer, senior pastor of Englewood Baptist Church in Rocky Mount where nearly 200 couples were expected to renew their wedding vows Feb. 15 at a celebration to recognize their combined 4,400-plus years of marriage.
“We want to stand up and speak up for marriage in North Carolina as it has been defined since the beginning of our nation, and of civilization,” Cloer told NC4Marriage. “We are praying that our state General Assembly will have the courage to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot and allow the citizens of North Carolina to pass a Marriage Amendment. Our people will celebrate, educate, and then communicate with our elected officials that we believe in marriage between one man and one woman.”
Fitzgerald said that while Feb. 22 has been proclaimed as Marriage Sunday, many churches are planning events early for this weekend in conjunction with Valentine’s Day or are preaching a series of marriage-themed sermons throughout the month. She said new resources for pastors, including bulletin inserts and videos are being added to the coalition’s Web site, www.nc4marriage.org, where already fliers, petitions and radio spots can be downloaded.
Many churches are using Marriage Sunday as a kickoff to ready for the March 3 Marriage Rally when thousands of people are expected to converge on the Capitol’s Halifax Mall.
Dr. Ron Baity, President of Return America, which is sponsoring the rally, stressed the importance of pastor’s speaking out.
“In a society that is trying to redefine marriage, it is time for us to get back to the basics and explain the theology of what marriage is all about. The Bible defines marriage as one man and one woman and says that anything other than that is an abomination or ‘going after strange flesh,'” the Rev. Baity said. “There was a time in this country when the pulpit spoke loudly on the issues and there was a line of demarcation. Unfortunately when we look at our government and business world and we see the corruption, what we’re seeing is the result of fallen pulpits.”
Both Fitzgerald and Baity encouraged pastors to help congregants understand that the battle for a Marriage Amendment will not be a quick one, and in fact, upcoming events will serve as starting points for the campaign that will require consistent lobbying of lawmakers once the bill is filed later this month.
“We are encouraging everybody who is coming to the rally to contact their legislators and invite them to the rally; then after the rally, to go to their offices and ask them to support the Marriage Amendment,” Baity said of the event which starts at 11 a.m. on March 3. “We’ll have sign-up sheets for churches to sign up for days when their people will call Rep. Joe Hackney (Speaker of the House) and Sen. Marc Basnight (President Pro Tempore of the Senate) and ask them to allow the bill to be voted on. Our goal is to have dozens of people to e-mail them or send them letters every day for the next 40 weeks of this year.”
Baity said in addition to speakers David Gibbs III from the Christian Law Association and David Barton of WallBuilders, the Marriage Rally will include gospel music from the Reggie Saddler Family.
He said if the anticipated rally crowd, the letters and phone calls don’t get the attention of lawmakers, his intent is to take the battle to their districts.
“They think we will just have a crowd show up and then rest on our laurels, but the truth is if they don’t pay attention to this large crowd, our goal at Return America is that we are going into the districts of these people who are opposed to Biblical marriage and we’re going to raise up a group of people to run against them,” Baity said. “We’ll send them home to get an honest job if they refuse to represent their constituents.”
Fitzgerald said many legislators have told NC4Marriage that they support a Marriage Amendment and will vote for the bill but don’t want to be a primary sponsor for fear that doing so will put them out of favor with House and Senate leadership and prevent their other bills from being heard.
“These comments are from people who say that they don’t want same-sex marriage to be made legal, but the question is how far out on the limb are they willing to go to make sure that it doesn’t happen,” Fitzgerald said. “Do they have the courage needed to take a stand?”
To find out more about Marriage Sunday and the Marriage Campaign, log on to www.nc4marriage.org. The Return America Web site is at www.returnamerica.org.