(Photo: Vote FOR Marriage NC staff)
Jay Bakker grew up in North Carolina in the limelight of his parents' Praise The Lord ministry before it crumbled in the 1980s after his father pled guilty to fraud charges. Now the young minister is opposing the state's efforts to pass a marriage amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
The tattooed-laden Bakker, 36, now lives in New York City and is the co-founder of Revolution Church, which meets on Sundays in Pete's Candy store, a bar. He was featured in a 2006 documentary "One Punk Under God."
Since he is no longer a resident of North Carolina, he cannot vote on the issue but still felt moved to join the efforts opposing it.
On Sunday, Bakker led some 75 people in a rally against the marriage amendment.
"I ignored all these amendments being passed and passed until it hit my hometown and I was like…When I heard about it, I called down here and offered to help," Bakker told WNCT News.
North Carolina is one of three states where voters will decide how to define marriage. The May 8 election is generating substantial attention on both sides of the issue, but recent polls show that a majority of North Carolinians are expected to cast their ballots in favor of the amendment.
A Public Policy Polling survey of 1,191 likely voters conducted in late March showed voters favored the amendment 58 to 38 percent. A similar poll conducted by SurveyUSA showed almost the same numbers.
"My parents taught me to love people across the board and always be open to people," said Bakker. "They were always into equality and reaching out to the marginalized and things like that."
The debate surrounding the amendment has become so heated that it has sparked vandalism against some churches that are speaking out in support of the issue.
A sign in front of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Hickory, N.C. that reads "Marriage Sunday April 22" was vandalized late last week when someone painted over the sign, "Hate Speech Sunday April 22."
"Well I just believe what the Lord says about the marriage amendment," church member Greg Sullins told the Hickory Daily Record. "We don't hate people – we love them. But we serve a loving God who has rules."
Pastor Scott Hooks said it was obvious that those who are in favor of same-sex marriage were responsible for the graffiti, but that he welcomes anyone who wishes to attend his church, which he describes as a "conservative and Bible preaching and Bible believing church with an independent congregation."
"The Bible says any sex outside of marriage is a sin," Hooks also told the Hickory Daily Record. "We're not trying to single out any group in particular except on this one issue where we have a chance as a state to tell people how we feel."