CommunityPam's House Blend

Preserve Marriage Washington Leaves no Doubt That Narrow Religious Views Drive Their Campaign, Not Sound Public Policy

Washington voters may not be aware, but to Preserve Marriage Washington they are a “mission field” being given a last chance “to repent, to turn this back to a God-honoring state” by putting Referendum 74 on the ballot. In fact Washington isn’t just any mission field, but “the darkest mission field, the most black place that evil kinda resides”.

These are the words of Rep. Matt Shea (R-Spokane Valley), Executive Board Member for Preserve Marriage Washington. He delivered them in Spokane at PMW’s April 24, 2012 volunteer training meeting (audio file).

Preserve Marriage Washington is trying to repeal Washington’s marriage equality law by forcing Referendum 74 onto the November ballot. They have until June 6 to collect 120,577 valid voter signatures to qualify the measure.

Here’s what else PMW’s Executive Board member Shea told the volunteers:

It was very interesting. Last time I was speaking that big picture right there fell off the wall. And that picture is a picture of mission fields around the world. We were talking about it afterwords, and I’ve got to tell you I was really convicted: the mission field is not around the world any more. The mission field’s here. It is right here. And this is a mission. We are on a mission right now.

And, let’s talk about politics. So what is the temple of the Holy Spirit?
We are, the body of the believer, right? What’s the government of the United States? We are! Body of the believer, right?

That was the genius of the system, but it presupposed two things. One, you were a believer, and two, you showed up so the Holy Spirit could work through you. Pretty simple, right? I think.

So when I talk to pastors, that’s exactly where I start. We are denying, I think, an obligation, and I think we’re denying the convenant the founders made when they landed on these shores, to make this nation a God-honoring nation for God. That is as simple as I can make that. …

We talk about politics too, though our hope is not in Man. Our hope is in Jesus Christ.

Picture of a notice inviting voters to sign the R-74 petition with the invitation Support the Biblical Definition of Marriage R74“. Posted by PMW on its Facebook page.

The previous speaking event Rep. Shea referred to was Preserve Marriage Washington’s May 26th volunteer meeting in Spokane. At that time he said of Referendum 74: “This is not about same-sex marriage, O.K.? I know that sounds really weird. This bill is really about religious liberty. This bill is about our ability to continue to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and make disciples unhindered in the state of Washington.”

Pretty far out stuff, considering that we’re talking about lawmaking here — forcing a referendum on the ballot so that the electorate can vote whether to approve or reject the Marriage Equality Act passed earlier this year by bipartisan majorities in the Washington state Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Gregoire.

What is vital to note is that Rep. Shea isn’t just a loose cannon within the Preserve Marriage Washington campaign. All the key speakers at these events echo his “mission from God” frame for the referendum.

“We are in Your family [referring to God]. Because of that we have a sense of what the rightness of family looks like,” said pastor Steve Hetrick of Cheney Community Church in an opening prayer at the March event.

Pastor Mark Hamilton of Spokane Christian Fellowship Church said in opening remarks at the April meeting that “We want to preserve marriage. We want to preserve our rights to be one man and one woman together. We want to preserve our right to be Christians because this is a religious war. It is. We have to preserve our right. And when good men do nothing, evil prevails.”

Christopher Plante, the National Organization for Marriage’s Rhode Island-based operative on loan to Preserve Marriage Washington to run the campaign according to NOM’s playbook, more than once described PMW’s “grassroots army” as a group that “meets every Saturday and Sunday in the parishes and churches of Washington state.”

“I want to reiterate, the very foundation of what we’re doing is prayer,” confirmed DiAnna Brannan, PMW’s grassroots coordinator and co-founder of Christian Homeschool Network of Washington.

Despite all this religious framing and PMW’s demand that Washington’s civil marriage law hew to their narrow religious views, Mr. Plante displayed a shocking disrespect for Christian faith leaders who won’t allow his political petitions onto church property. He suggested that parishoners do an end-run around those pastors.

If your pastor, for whatever reason, without passing any judgment on your pastor’s conscience before God, has said we won’t have this in our church, that does not stop your 6,000 members from signing this petition. So maybe it’s something as interesting as finding a way to tell your congregation, ‘come to our house and sign the petition’. Six thousand signatures, that’s 300 petitions. We’ll give ’em to you. …

We’re told to honor the elders. I’m not real keen on going after somebody because we disagree with them. Christ himself entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly. So we gotta be real careful here. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t use the other means at our disposal to find a way around them and say, maybe we can do something else.

The ends justifies the means, apparently. This is especially shocking advice considering that Mr. Plante is himself an ordained elder in the schismatic Presbyterian Church of America.

Mr. Plante went on to rattle God’s sabre at non-participating pastors, saying:

There are spiritual repercussions [of not participating]. The spiritual ones being if a pastor or elders are in defiance of God’s decree and what he wants for them to do as the shepherds of that flock. God will deal with them. …And are you more afraid of Man than God?

Preserve Marriage Washington is trying to use secular-sounding arguments in their public persuasion campaign, but their motivation clearly comes from a very narrow religious worldview. Because they know that most Washingtonians don’t share their extreme worldview, they will try to keep it hidden from the public.

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Laurel Ramseyer

Laurel Ramseyer