On Sunday, Sept 19, thousands of evangelical Christians across the nation tuned in for the third “Battle for Marriage” simulcast. Vanguards of the evangelical faiths such as Dr. James Dobson, Tony Perkins and Richard Land gave keynote speeches emphasizing the role of the Church “at this critical hour” in the fight to protect traditional marriage.
The two-hour rally was strategically scheduled just days before the upcoming Sept 30 vote on the marriage amendment in the House of Representatives. The amendment, in essence, will protect traditional marriage and ban same-sex “marriage” at the federal level. It currently has 130 sponsors, but needs 290 votes to pass the 2/3 majority of the House. If passed, the amendment will return to the Senate, where it was blocked earlier this year, for a second shot at receiving the support of 2/3 of the senate. Finally, to be ratified, it will need to receive the support of three fourths of the states.
With the upcoming House vote being the main focus of the simulcast, the House Majority Leader Tom DeLay gave a speech encouraging amendment supporters not to give up.
"It may make time, but after years of attacks, marriage will be defended," DeLay, R.-Texas, said in a taped address to the audience.
"As we learned over the 10-year fight to ban partial-birth abortion, these debates are never resolved in one vote or one year," he added. "Issues like this take time, and they must be engaged with compassion and respect for all sides. Our opponents may want this to be an emotional debate, but we have the truth on our side, and it is the truth that will win us this argument."
Meanwhile, Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, encouraged listeners to call their representatives in the week prior to the vote. Perkins gave the capitol switchboard number (202-224-3121) for the main number to call.
"Since every member of the House or Representatives will be on the ballot this November, they may be a little more attentive than normal," Perkins said.
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission reminded listeners that America is at a critical moment in history, where the church is needed to make its voice heard.
"Instead of going out into the society and being salt and light, we have allowed the society to salt and light us," Land said. "... If we do not win this struggle for America's soul, we will see the demise -- the quick, rapid demise -- of our civilization."
Ronnie Floyd, pastor of First Baptist in Springdale, added onto Land’s warning, saying that the church "has gone to sleep on the watch" while the secularists have "been rewriting American history."
"It's time that the church wakes up," Floyd said. "The soul of the nation is at stake.... You can't sit this one out, ladies and gentlemen, the church must wake up.... The church must stand up on the Word of God."
Following Floyd’s address, James Dobson – the president of Focus on the Family – applauded Floyd’s stance, saying that he does not stand alone.
"We stand shoulder to shoulder with you,” said Dobson.
Dobson then applauded the evangelical community for becoming actively involved in the battle.
"More than ever, people of faith and Christians are waking up and are energized and getting involved in the system," Dobson said. "They're gonna make a difference."
However, Dobson also emphasized the need to be “civil” in carrying on the debate over homosexuality and gay “marriage.”
"We can't introduce them to Jesus Christ if we're calling them names," he said. "That's not our purpose. We are not hateful people, but we profoundly disagree with their agenda and their theology."
Ken Hutcherson, the enthusiastic African American pastor who is organizing the Oct 15 “Mayday for Marriage” march in Washington D.C., meanwhile asserted that homosexual “marriage” is not a civil rights issue.
"I know about civil rights, and same-sex ‘marriage’ is not a civil rights issue," he said. "As an African American man it's impossible for me to take [the] don't ask, don't tell policy."
Finally, Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, told the viewers that prayer was the strongest weapon in the fight.
"Because you are the church, there is no reason for you to be timid," he said. "There is no reason for you to be shy."
In addition to the thousands of individuals streaming the livecast, hundreds of churches watched the simulcast from their pews, Sunday. The simulcast originated from the First Baptist Church in Springdale, Arkansas – home church of Rev. Ronnie Floyd – and was broadcasted live via Christian TV and radio.