150+ Maine Churches to Launch Massive Anti-Gay Marriage Father’s Day Fundraising Campaign
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Scores of Maine churches will pass the collection plate a second time at Sunday services on Father’s Day to kick off a fundraising campaign for the lead opposition group to November’s ballot question asking voters to legalize same-sex marriages.
Between 150 and 200 churches are expected to raise money for the Protect Marriage Maine political action committee, said Carroll Conley Jr., executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine evangelical organization and a member of the PAC. Conley is also trying to drum up support for the Maine campaign from religious leaders from around the country.
It’s unusual, but not unheard of, for churches to take up collections for political causes. Maine’s Catholic diocese says it raised about $80,000 with a designated collection in 2009 in its effort to overturn Maine’s same-sex marriage law, which was passed by the Legislature that year and later rejected by voters. The Catholic Church isn’t actively campaigning this time, instead focusing on teaching parishioners about the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman.
Father’s Day, June 17, seemed an appropriate time to kick off this year’s fundraising campaign because of the day’s focus on family, Conley said. Additional collection-plate offerings at churches are expected in the months ahead.
“The messaging we’re using is that those who are seeking to redefine marriage in Maine believe there’s no difference between moms and dads,” Conley told The Associated Press. “We believe those differences are relevant. We don’t think the differences in the genders are societally imposed roles, and we believe that children benefit when they’re in that ideal environment where there’s a mom and dad.”
Protect Marriage Maine has been in contact with about 800 churches across the state and expects 150 to 200 to participate in the Father’s Day collections, Conley said. They include Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal, Nazarene, Church of God, Wesleyan, Evangelical Free, Advent Christian and other denominations.
While many churches are joining the campaign against the referendum, others of various denominations are working to support the ballot measure.
Some churches have hosted phone banks where congregation members have made calls in favor of the referendum, said the Rev. Sue Gabrielson, the minister at the Sanford Unitarian Universalist Church. Other churches have held educational forums and training sessions on door-to-door canvassing.
The referendum, she said, is about inclusion, a “loving God” and being nonjudgmental and compassionate.
“What we want is for people to know that this is a religious issue,” she said.
Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, who created an international uproar when he became the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican church in 2003, is coming to Maine in early June on behalf of the campaign in support of gay marriage. He will appear at three screenings of the film “Love Free or Die,” which depicts his life, in Portland, Lewiston and Ellsworth.
Churches in Maine and elsewhere have raised money from parishioners for political campaigns in the past on issues including gay rights, doctor-assisted suicide, abortion and gambling.
Federal law prohibits churches and other 501(c) (3) charitable organizations from supporting or opposing candidates running for office, either through financial contributions or endorsements, said Brent Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, a Washington advocacy group that supports separation of church and state.
“But they can, with near impunity, support issues and causes, including same-sex marriage referenda,” Walker said.
Supporters of Maine’s ballot question have said they expect to raise $5 million or more for their campaign. Opponents have said they expect to raise far less, but collection plate offerings will go a long way toward helping fund the campaign, Conley said.
Conley has been in Washington, D.C., this week at a pastors conference organized by the conservative Family Research Council. There, he met with other gay marriage opponents from Minnesota, Washington and Maryland, where same-sex marriage ballot initiatives are being debated.
Minnesota will decide in November whether a ban on gay marriage should be part of the state constitution. Maryland and Washington are expected to have ballot measures seeking to overturn same-sex marriage laws that were recently passed by their legislatures.
Conley’s also seeking endorsements from well-known pastors who might be willing to record video and audio clips that can be played at churches taking part in Maine’s collection-plate drive, he said. Those clips would also be sent to the state’s Christian radio stations as public service announcements.
Conley said he realized churches should play a central role in the Maine campaign after being in North Carolina earlier this month when voters approved an amendment to the state constitution affirming that marriage may only be a union of a man and a woman.
“I was impressed with the coordination I saw among the faith community in North Carolina,” he said.
Benghazi, IRS, AP...What's next? Only TheBlaze TV offers the truth from Glenn Beck, Andrew Wilkow, and Real News from TheBlaze. Get instant access and a free trial here.
- ‘The Daily Show’ Creator Makes Outrageously Offensive Anti-Conservative Joke About Okla. Tornado 469 Comments
- Washington Times Writer: Fox News Scandal Goes ‘Much Deeper,’ W.H. Sitting on Something Top Obama Aides ‘Terrified’ About 442 Comments
- Why Were DHS Agents Seemingly Monitoring Multiple Tea Party IRS Protests Across the Country on Tuesday? 359 Comments
- University Will Investigate Christian Professor’s Intelligent Design Class Following Atheist Furor 329 Comments
- CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Has Awkward Moment With Okla. Tornado Survivor After Asking If She ‘Thanked the Lord’ 269 Comments
- Comedian’s New Anti-Muhammad Video Excoriates Islamic Prophet, Juxtaposes Him with Jesus: ‘Very Wrong and Twisted’ Read More
- Teacher Admits She ‘Prayed Out Loud’ During Violent Tornado: ‘I Did the Teacher Thing that We’re Probably Not Supposed to Do’ Read More
- Farrakhan Talks of ‘Satanic Jews’ and ‘Synagogue of Satan’ at Detroit Church Speech — but Wait Until You Hear Who Was in Attendance 178 Comments
- Biden Praises Jewish Leaders for Helping Change Americans’ Views on Gay Marriage Read More
- ‘Death! You F**k!’: Bat Mitzvah Chaperone Unleashes Explosive, Profanity-Laced Tirade Against Kids Over Candy-Throwing Incident Read More
- Report: No IRS Workers Have Been Disciplined & Union Says It Hasn’t Been Contacted on Personnel Read More
- Ex-Cincinnati IRS Manager: This Was Not the Work of ‘Low-Level’ Employees Read More
- China Sets off What Could Be the World’s Longest Demolition Read More
- Here are the 5 Most Interesting Moments from Tuesday’s Hearing on the IRS Scandal 142 Comments
- Jay Carney Shifts IRS Timeline (Again!) 106 Comments
- The Incredible Role Facebook Played in the Aftermath of Devastating Okla. Tornado Read More
- Tech Company Demonstrates Remote Disabling of a ‘Smart Gun’ 102 Comments
- Meet the Blind Man Nicknamed ‘Midnight Gunslinger’ Who Has 80% Shot Accuracy Read More
- How a $4.5 Million Network of 181 Sirens Helped Save Lives in Oklahoma Twister Read More
- See the Record-Setting Python a Man Caught With His Bare Hands (and Guess How Much It Weighed) Read More
- House panel moves to curb military sexual assaults
- AP source: Obama on Sunday to visit Oklahoma town devastated by monstrous tornado
- 'Boom Town Baby': African stock markets see gains
- First lady lauds effort to preserve DC slave house
- Attorney: Donald Trump lied on stand
- House takes up GOP bill to speed pipeline approval
- FBI: Man fatally shot in Boston bombing probe
- Congo fighting persists as UN chief arrives