As the state of Maine prepares for a crucial vote in November on the legalization of same-sex marriages, hundreds of churches defending the traditional definition of marriage, as between one man and one woman, have pledged to raise money during Sunday services to help the cause.
Between 150 and 200 churches have pledged to give their Sunday offerings to the Protect Marriage Maine political action committee, the Associated Press has reported. The initiative comes three years after Maine's Catholic diocese raised about $80,000 to battle Maine's same-sex marriage law, which in 2009 was rejected by voters.
This year, however, it is not only Catholic churches that are standing up to defend the traditional definition of marriage. Carroll Conley Jr., executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine evangelical organization, has said that Father's Day, which falls on June 17, will be the official start of the fundraising campaign in all churches wishing to join the fight in the months leading up to the November vote.
"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 has said, according to AP. "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, which describes itself as a "a bi-partisan statewide grassroots coalition of pastors, organizations and individuals, including people of various faith backgrounds as well as those with no faith tradition, who believe that society is best served by preserving marriage as the union of one man and one woman," says it has been in contact with 800 churches and hopes more will join the cause on Father's Day.
Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal, Nazarene, Church of God, Wesleyan, Evangelical Free, Advent Christian and other denominations will all be helping defend the traditional definition of marriage, Conley shared.
Not all churches in Maine agree with voting in favor of traditional marriage, however, and some will campaign on the other side in support of gay marriage. Among some notable figures in support of same-sex marriage in Maine is Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, who in 2003 became the first openly gay bishop in the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Although churches are not allowed to support or oppose political candidates during elections, either through financial contributions or endorsements, they can support issues and causes, such as the vote on same-sex marriage, revealed Brent Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.
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Earlier in May, pro-traditional marriage churches in North Carolina were successful in their bid to explicitly ban gay marriage in the state. An amendment to affirm the legal definition of marriage as between one man and one woman was upheld by 61 percent of voters.
"Now, the people have spoken," said Ron Baity, pastor of Berean Baptist Church. "They have spoken clearly. They have spoken explicitly that marriage in North Carolina is between one man and one woman."
Currently, six states, including the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage in the United States.