SPRINGDALE, Ark. (BP)–Calling marriage the “natural and spiritual bond between one man and one woman,” House Majority Leader Tom DeLay told evangelicals in a nationwide broadcast Sept. 19 that the fight to pass a constitutional marriage amendment eventually will succeed.
“It may make time, but after years of attacks, marriage will be defended,” DeLay, R.-Texas, said in a taped address.
Hundreds of churches took part in the third “Battle for Marriage” rally simulcast, which originated from First Baptist Church in Springdale, Ark., and was broadcast live nationwide via Christian TV and radio. It included such pro-family leaders as James Dobson, Richard Land and Tony Perkins.
The two-hour rally came just days before a scheduled Sept. 30 vote on the marriage amendment in the House of Representatives. The amendment, which would protect traditional marriage and ban same-sex “marriage,” has 130 sponsors but needs 290 votes — two-thirds of the House — to pass. If passed, it would then require passage by two-thirds of the Senate and ratification by three-quarters of the states.
DeLay urged those watching to contact their representatives and tell them to vote for the amendment. He also encouraged amendment supporters not to give up; in July, the amendment was filibustered in the Senate.
“As we learned over the 10-year fight to ban partial-birth abortion, these debates are never resolved in one vote or one year,” he said. “Issues like this take time, and they must be engaged with compassion and respect for all sides. Our opponents may want this to be an emotional debate, but we have the truth on our side, and it is the truth that will win us this argument.”
Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, said that representatives must hear from their constituents prior to the vote. He gave the capitol switchboard number (202-224-3121) as well as FRC’s Internet address (www.frc.org), where information about each representative is available.
“Since every member of the House or Representatives will be on the ballot this November, they may be a little more attentive than normal,” Perkins said.
Speakers encouraged evangelicals to register to vote, noting that by some estimates 4 million evangelicals sat out the last election. Other estimates have that figure as high as 24 million. With voter registration deadlines approaching, Perkins urged those not registered to do so at www.iVoteValues.com.
Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said America has come to a “fork in the road” and the church must make its voice heard.
“Instead of going out into the society and being salt and light, we have allowed the society to salt and light us,” Land said. “… If we do not win this struggle for America’s soul, we will see the demise — the quick, rapid demise — of our civilization.”
Ronnie Floyd, pastor of First Baptist in Springdale, said the church “has gone to sleep on the watch” while the secularists have “been rewriting American history.”
“It’s time that the church wakes up,” Floyd said. “The soul of the nation is at stake…. You can’t sit this one out, ladies and gentlemen, the church must wake up…. The church must stand up on the Word of God.”
Floyd was at the center of a controversy in July after preaching a sermon in which he compared the stances of President Bush and Democratic nominee John Kerry on key moral issues such as abortion and same-sex “marriage” — although he did not endorse either candidate. Americans United for Separation of Church and State sent a letter of complaint to the Internal Revenue Service, arguing that Floyd violated the church’s tax-exempt status. But Floyd’s church stood by him and said that the liberal organization was attempting to “intimidate” evangelicals into “silence.”
Dobson, during his address, thanked Floyd for his stance, and the audience gave Floyd a standing ovation.
“You do not stand alone,” Dobson said to Floyd. “We stand shoulder to shoulder with you.”
Dobson also said he believes that the evangelical community is becoming actively involved in the battle over the definition of marriage.
“More than ever, people of faith and Christians are waking up and are energized and getting involved in the system,” Dobson said. “They’re gonna make a difference.”
Dobson’s wife, Shirley Dobson, encouraged “those who feel led” to fast and pray every Thursday until the election “for righteousness to be done.”
“We are in a battle for the very heart and soul of this nation, and it is not a battle that you can win with tanks and missiles and bombs,” she said. “It is a spiritual battle, and it can only be won on our knees.”
Ken Hutcherson, who is organizing an Oct. 15 “Mayday for Marriage” march in Washington D.C., asserted that homosexual “marriage” is not a civil rights issue. Hutcherson, who is African American, serves as pastor of Antioch Bible Church in Washington state.
“I know about civil rights, and same-sex ‘marriage’ is not a civil rights issue,” he said, adding to laughter, “As an African American man it’s impossible for me to take [the] don’t ask, don’t tell policy.”
Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, said that Christians must be bold prayer warriors.
“Because you are the church, there is no reason for you to be timid,” he said. “There is no reason for you to be shy.”
Dobson emphasized the need to conduct the debate over marriage in a civil tone.
“We can’t introduce them to Jesus Christ if we’re calling them names,” he said. “That’s not our purpose. We are not hateful people, but we profoundly disagree with their agenda and their theology.”
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage
DVD and VHS copies of the rally can be purchased by clicking on “products-resources” at www.wevotevalues.com.