McMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)–By a slim majority Nov. 7, Oregon voters refused to prohibit the promotion of homosexuality in the state’s public schools.
With 85 percent of the tally at press time, voters by a 51 to 49 percent margin agreed with homosexual rights activists who campaigned vigorously for children to be taught that homosexuality is “normal, healthy and natural.”
By about 45,000 votes, Oregonians rejected a proposal to prohibit public schools from “providing instruction on behaviors relating to homosexuality or bisexuality in a manner that encourages, promotes or sanctions such behaviors,” as stated in the state’s official voter’s guide.
“The opponents did a good job of scaring people, of blowing the issue way out of proportion,” said Kelly Boggs, pastor of Valley Baptist Church in McMinnville, Ore. “They said Measure 9 would limit AIDS awareness programs and they did a good job of making it a discrimination issue.”
Boggs was one of several conservative pastors to take a joint public stand on the measure. Boggs captured the attention of the statewide media and in the weeks before the election appeared regularly on radio and television programs and in the state’s major newspapers. He regularly debated with homosexual rights activists.
“The message the opponents gave is that the lack of promoting, encouraging or sanctioning homosexuality is hateful, is intolerant, is dangerous,” Boggs said the day after the election. “They never dealt with issues. They just said if Measure 9 passes, then everything bad would happen and harassment would be tolerated.”
The fact that a measure addressing the teaching of homosexuality would be on a ballot indicates just how far American popular culture has moved from its Christian roots, said Barrett Duke, a spokesman for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
“The fact that the measure was put on the ballot is clear evidence that many people see America’s public schools as social programming centers rather than centers for academic learning,” Duke said. “That the voters approved the use of their public schools for this type of programming behavior should cause every parent in the state to re-evaluate where they send their children to school. Those parents who choose to keep their children in these public school environments must make a commitment to teach their children their own values since they can be assured that there are others who are eager, willing and now legally empowered to teach their children another set of values.”
Duke stressed that Christians should not abandon public schools, but rather they should become involved in order to advocate Christian values.
“Christians cannot afford to give up the public schools because there are too many children in them who are at the mercy of those who present themselves as authorities,” Duke said. “The consequences of the reprogramming of an entire generation of children forebodes devastating consequences for the future of our country. Parents with children in public schools must become more involved in their schools in order that traditional Christian values are not trampled or dismissed as antiquated, and that these values will be taught in those same environments” as those promoting homosexuality.
The homosexual rights movement scored a major win with the Oregon vote. Activists worked hard at what was one of the few homosexual-related measures on ballots across the nation.
At one point the Oregon movement’s “Sexual Diversity Committee” sent a memo to all teachers in Portland’s elementary schools. The memo contained an annotated bibliography of more than 40 books that would help teachers “promote diversity.”
The titles included “Baby Be-Bop” by Francesca Lea Block, published by HarperCollins in 1995. In this book, a fictional 16-year-old boy in Los Angeles comes to terms with being homosexual after a series of tragic events.
“Dive” by Stacy Donovan, published by Puffin Books in 1994, related the fictional story of 15-year-old Virginia whose world falls apart until her rescue by a woman.
In “Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price,” edited by Warren J. Blumenfeld, Beacon Press, 1992, “the contributors show how the fight to end homophobia is everyone’s fight if we’re to bring about a less oppressive and more productive society,” according to the memo.
“Basically all the books were one-sided, and that was the objection to the list,” Boggs said. “This memo came from the sexual diversity committee but there was no diversity to it. It was all promotion of the gay rights agenda. Homosexuals definitely want their behavior to be seen as normal and healthy and natural. That’s their message.”
By starting with today’s elementary schoolchildren, homosexual activists hope their message of “normal, healthy, natural” homosexuality could take root in Oregon and spread across the nation, Boggs warned.
“I see what’s happening in the West as pivotal to the nation,” he said. “I think the future is going to see pro-homosexuals pushing legislation that will make their behavior more accessible — so the onus will be on us to defeat it. We’ll see if pastors wake up then.”
Conservative pastors seemed strangely silent on this issue, the Baptist pastor said with some frustration.
“I believe the conservative pastors across Oregon were for Measure 9 but it’s not enough just to be for it. They must speak,” Boggs said. “I think most of their congregation are waiting to hear a clear word. They’re waiting for their pastors to exhibit some leadership in this.
“Valley Baptist Church went to the mat,” Boggs said, referring to the congregation he pastors in a suburb west of Portland. “We supported it visibly with bumper stickers, signs and buttons, and many of our members supported the Yes on 9 campaign financially. I did not tell them how to vote. They knew where I stood. I gave them avenues to express themselves, and they did. I’m proud of our church. We’re not the largest congregation in Oregon, but I think we did as much as anybody could have done.”
Boggs said he was inspired earlier this year with the leadership of California Southern Baptist pastor Rob Zinn in the defeat of a gay marriage initiative.
“Several things led me to take the stand I did about prohibiting the promotion, encouragement and sanctioning of homosexuality in Oregon, but Rob Zinn’s example was just more kindling on the fire,” Boggs said. “If we don’t blow the trumpet of what’s going on, people will be caught unawares.”