Maine churches raising money to fight gay marriage

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Scores of Maine churches will pass the collection plate a second time at Sunday services on Father's Day to kick off a fundraising campaign for the lead opposition group to November's ballot question asking voters to legalize same-sex marriages.

Between 150 and 200 churches are expected to raise money for the Protect Marriage Maine political action committee, said Carroll Conley Jr., executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine evangelical organization and a member of the PAC. Conley is also trying to drum up support for the Maine campaign from religious leaders from around the country.

It's unusual, but not unheard of, for churches to take up collections for political causes. Maine's Catholic diocese says it raised about $80,000 with a designated collection in 2009 in its effort to overturn Maine's same-sex marriage law, which was passed by the Legislature that year and later rejected by voters. The Catholic church isn't actively campaigning this time, instead focusing on teaching parishioners about the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman Father's Day, June 17, seemed an appropriate time to kick off this year's fundraising campaign because of the day's focus on family, Conley said. Additional collection-plate offerings at churches are expected in the months ahead.

"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 told The Associated Press. "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 has been in contact with about 800 churches across the state and expects 150 to 200 to participate in the Father's Day collections, Conley said. They include Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal, Nazarene, Church of God, Wesleyan, Evangelical Free, Advent Christian and other denominations.

While many churches are joining the campaign against the referendum, others of various denominations are working to support the ballot measure.

Some churches have hosted phone banks where congregation members have made calls in favor of the referendum, said the Rev. Sue Gabrielson, the minister at the Sanford Unitarian Universalist Church. Other churches have held educational forums and training sessions on door-to-door canvassing.

The referendum, she said, is about inclusion, a "loving God" and being nonjudgmental and compassionate.

"What we want is for people to know that this is a religious issue," she said.

Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, who created an international uproar when he became the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican church in 2003, is coming to Maine in early June on behalf of the campaign in support of gay marriage. He will appear at three screenings of the film "Love Free or Die," which depicts his life, in Portland, Lewiston and Ellsworth.

Churches in Maine and elsewhere have raised money from parishioners for political campaigns in the past on issues including gay rights, doctor-assisted suicide, abortion and gambling.

Federal law prohibits churches and other 501(c) (3) charitable organizations from supporting or opposing candidates running for office, either through financial contributions or endorsements, said Brent Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, a Washington advocacy group that supports separation of church and state.

"But they can, with near impunity, support issues and causes, including same-sex marriage referenda," Walker said.

Supporters of Maine's ballot question have said they expect to raise $5 million or more for their campaign. Opponents have said they expect to raise far less, but collection plate offerings will go a long way toward helping fund the campaign, Conley said.

Conley has been in Washington, D.C., this week at a pastors conference organized by the conservative Family Research Council. There, he met with other gay marriage opponents from Minnesota, Washington and Maryland, where same-sex marriage ballot initiatives are being debated.

Minnesota will decide in November whether a ban on gay marriage should be part of the state constitution. Maryland and Washington are expected to have ballot measures seeking to overturn same-sex marriage laws that were recently passed by their legislatures.

Conley's also seeking endorsements from well-known pastors who might be willing to record video and audio clips that can be played at churches taking part in Maine's collection-plate drive, he said. Those clips would also be sent to the state's Christian radio stations as public service announcements.

Conley said he realized churches should play a central role in the Maine campaign after being in North Carolina earlier this month when voters approved an amendment to the state constitution affirming that marriage may only be a union of a man and a woman.

"I was impressed with the coordination I saw among the faith community in North Carolina," he said.

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Steve  Dosh's picture

Maine churches raising money to fight gay marriage

all 12.05.26 20:00 hst •
Our responses are fairly predictable . ....
Our God is love and (s)he just hates hate , bigotry , and intolerance Mainers . Who's side do you want to be on ? Always has and always will , world without end , Amen •
Put that in your pipe and smoke it :) Love love , Love Us
Mainers United for Marriage
A huge thanks to the MEA for supporting the effort to win the freedom to marry for ALL loving, committed couples in Maine!
Maine Education Association backs same-sex marriage referendum
also http://www.bangordailynews.com
PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine Education Association voted Sunday to endorse the referendum on the November ballot that would allow same-sex couples in Maine to marry. “We are grateful for the support of the Maine Education Association and for the organization’s vote to endorse the campaign to allow sa...

Ed McCaffrey's picture

It never fails to amaze me

that a group of people, who claim to hold beliefs that were espoused by one of the most forgiving people in history, can be so unforgiving. Christians are one of the most divorce prone religious groups on the planet. People claiming to be Christians have more children out of wedlock than almost any other group on the planet, and yet they have the nerve to condemn others for their sexual orientations and their desire to engage in a practice that Christians fail at with alarming regularity.
How any of these people can look at themselves in the mirror and still call themselves Christians is beyond me. I believe that God said that He was supposed to be the sole judge of anyone's actions on earth and that He would decide whether or not they were received into heaven. For any person or group to assume that responsibility is pretty presumptuous and I'm sure that, if He is out there, God is watching them too.
Any church that collects money from it's parishioners to fund a political PAC should be stripped of it's tax exempt status and be branded a cult rather than a church. Actually, any religious group that protects and houses child molesters, vow breakers, war mongerers, hate spewers, political candidates, bigots, racists and anyone related to Sarah Palin needs to be shut down.;
I am an Agnostic Libertarian. Thank you.

 's picture

Way to ensure you'll never be able to evangelise to the LGBT

Simply put, God sent His son, Christ to die on the cross for our sins. We all know that part. But, if that were it, the only purpose of Christ's existence, than why not let him be located and executed with all the two-year old male babies in the edict passed down by the King who feared his own loss of power when he heard of the birth of a New King. What was the point of allowing Christ 33 years to live before his execution. Surely, since the only requirement in order for God's plan to work be that Christ die blameless, there were several opportunities during his life where he could have made the sacrifice. The reason God sent his Son to live 33 years as a lowly, insignificant human being, was so that Christ could experience our life. The bible says that not God the Father, but God the Son will judge us come judgment day. Why do you think that might be? Why would the Father, the Creator, the Ruler of Everything, relinquish the right of judgmrny to His Son? Could it be because it was the Son, the Word of God, who actually lived our life, faced our temptations, our circumstances, our illegitame, impossible lived? Only the Word sits in a position to equitably judge our actions. So if God Himself, is stepping down from the position of judge, what gives us the sanctimoneous right to pass judgment upon the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgener community? You and I have every right to decide what we feel is appropriate in our own lives. I will be celebrating my marraige to my husband for five years this summer, we share three beautiful children, and I believe the choice I made to marry someone from the opposite sex, for myself was the right one. But we do not have the right, not even with religous authority, to dictate other people's choices. It is only our job to love them. To engage with them. To embrace each and every human being we encounter with the same warmth as Christ did. Christ repeately told us during his 33 years that we do not stand in a position to judge others unless our own house is in order. No human being, not even the priest, the pastors, or the church goers, is in a position to pick up that stone. So, if God calls you to reach as many people as possible, and tell them the good news about His Word, than how do you justify pitting yourself on the opposite end of a political war, that you are collecting money to support, with a very large group of humanity? This is clearly not a tactic of evangelism. Do you really believe that anyone from the LGBT community is ever going to step foot inside your church? You should all be ashamed of yourself. These actions are not authorized by God. You are pharacies! If Christ were hear today, he would overthrow your petition booths, and dump out your collection plates, with infuriating anger just as he did in the temple that day. You pervert His message with your own close-minded and selfish agendas!

Sandra Coulombe's picture

These churches should loose

These churches should loose their tax exemption. If they want to get political let them pay taxes on those multimillion dollar assets. If they don't want to be taxed as the businesses they actually are then let them stick to doing what Christ commanded of them, feed the hungry, cloth the poor, tend the sick. I don't recall him saying anything about teaching and spreading hate.

Jeff Johnson's picture

Here we go again...

It's all going to start soon.

The pro gay marriage folks are going to call the anti-gay marriage folks 'Bigots' and 'Radical Right-wingers'.

The anti-gay marriage folks are going to spout biblical verses , and bring up non-special rights propaganda.

This referendum is about how people were brought up, and how they feel. One side or the other is going to be disappointed. Some people were brought up to believe that marriage is a union between one man and one woman. Others were brought up to believe that people should be able to do what they want to do.

Neither side is wrong, because this is an opinion issue, and we're a democratic/republic. Unfortunately, both sides feel that theirs is the only right side, and that the other side's opinion doesn't matter.

Similar to the liberal/conservative debate... there's no right or wrong... only opinions.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Jeff 20:20 hst • ? Saturday

Jeff 20:20 hst • ? Saturday night
Yeah , it's kinda' like war , yet , unlike war there is a right course of action in this one . War rarely proves who is right , just who is left , btw - Don't ask don't tell is law now . Women fight just as well as men . This fight is not political . It has to do with what is right , just , fair , and equitable
What if your son or daughter was gay or a lesbian , bisexual or a transvestite ? Would you love him or her any less ? Would you wish for them to not be happy during their lifetime ? Would you smote them ? Of course not . That would be highly illegal and hypocritical on your part , now wouldn't it , Jeffrey ? Choose sides wisely
We are also presuming here that you may have or may have had children in a loving relationship or have maybe adopted one from Korea or Ukraine / Russia , Guatemala or an abandoned or abused one placed in a foster home by your State , quite legally , usually as a result of drugs , alcohol , abuse , or neglect . The U S A does not export children , never has , and Happy Memorial Day Weekend all you veterans whatever your persuation
Jesus was never married ( as far as we know ) , he hung out with a gang of 13 guys ( mostly males ) , was betrayed with a kiss by one of them , they all liked to drink and hang out with prostitutes like Mary Magdaline , they were Jews and Gentiles for the most part according to the legends . There were no Christians back then - he was the first one . Even if you look at the painting of The Last Supper , Mary Magdaline is quite literally seated at his right hand ( his right hand man ? ) according to some wise guy who painted it named Michaelangelo
The flounder is our favorite fish . You wanna' know why ? Even a flounder can choose sides . It's only a joke
Decide to decide and choose to choose wisely • Love , Steve

Just a thought here, but

Just a thought here, but wouldn't raising the money to benefit their parishioners going through hard times be more productive and more in line with the "teachings of Christ"?

WOW Jimi!!!

WOW Jimi... So simple, but yet so profound! It seems the sheep have lost their shepherd. Maybe that would account for the loss of parishioners over the years?

I believe in God, but I do not believe in organized religion misinterpreting the Bible for their own agenda.

All sins are equal in God's eyes, but some seem to believe that homosexual sin is so much worse than the other "abominations" that so many people commit daily. I love it when an obese person tells me I am going to hell for being gay, yet completely overlooks what the Bible says about obesity.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Jimi ? Dan ? 8:30 pm Sat.

Jimi ? Dan ? 8:30 pm Sat. HST • 
You guys are on to something . .
Join the rest of us http://occupybangor.org/ , welcome to the 99% and Alo'ha from Pahoa /s Steve , widower and father of four
p.s., 'ey ! Don't go and make fun of our Pope though ! ( l o l --> We call him , " The German Shepard " :)

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