WASHINGTON Pastors and congregants in churches across the nation observed ''Marriage Protection Sunday'' yesterday as President Bush and conservative politicians prepared to back a proposed federal marriage amendment due at the Senate this week.
Marriage Protection Sunday is an opportunity for pastors to set his own moral authority by helping congregations understand what God has to say about His institution of marriage, explained Duke Barrett, Vice President of Governmental Affairs at the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission.
While figures were not finalized, Barrett said thousands of Southern Baptist congregations were estimated to have observed Marriage Protection Sunday.
This is all going to result in a better understanding among Southern Baptists about how highly God values marriage and His design, and more Southern Baptists will be engaged in protecting marriage as a result, he said.
During a radio address Saturday, President Bush defended traditional marriage on both social and faith-based terms, and said he would back a federal marriage amendment, should it pass Congress.
Marriage is the most enduring and important human institution, honored and encouraged in all cultures and by every religious faith, said Bush. Ages of experience have taught us that the commitment of a husband and a wife to love and to serve one another promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society.
Government, by recognizing and protecting marriage, serves the interests of all, he said, satisfying the conservative Christian political base that helped bring him to office.
Senators are also expected to come under public scrutiny as they take up the amendment for the next three days.
According to The Associated Press, many Republicans support the measure because they say traditional marriage strengthens society, while others don't but concede the reality of election-year politics. All but one of the Senate Democrats oppose the measure, and are expected to block an up-or-down vote, killing the measure for the year.
All of these are factors, analysts say, that show the amendment will likely fall short of the 60 votes required to receive an up-or down vote.
At this point it seems highly unlikely that well get enough votes for cloture, explained Barrett. No one at this point sees the possibility of that many votes.
However, the Southern Baptist lobbyist said, the amendment will play a critical role in determining the outcome of mid-term elections, even if it doesnt pass.
Its a principle issue, Barrett said. Senators need to vote on it, and constituents need to know. Senators who are up for re-election may catch a backlash from the folks who brought them to office.
Values-voters were already making their voices heard on Monday by delivering a petition in support of the Marriage Protection Amendment to the U.S. Senate. We are very hopeful that senators will heed their constituents and support the Marriage Protection Amendment, said Dr. Gary Cass, Executive Director of the Center for Reclaiming America for Christ.
Doing so will return this matter to the people and take marriage out of the hands of activist judges, such as the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.
The petition had the names of 505,199 people.
A similar petition by the Family Research Council with over 57,000 signatures was delivered to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist as well.