By Clarke Canfield-Associated Press
PORTLAND, Maine â€” 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 Novemberâ€™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.
Itâ€™s unusual, but not unheard of, for churches to take up collections for political causes. Maineâ€™s Catholic diocese says it raised about $80,000 with a designated collection in 2009 in its effort to overturn Maineâ€™s same-sex marriage law, which was passed by the Legislature that year and later rejected by voters. The Catholic church isnâ€™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 yearâ€™s fundraising campaign because of the dayâ€™s focus on family, Conley said. Additional collection-plate offerings at churches are expected in the months ahead.
â€œThe messaging weâ€™re using is that those who are seeking to redefine marriage in Maine believe thereâ€™s no difference between moms and dads,â€ Conley told the Associated Press. â€œWe believe those differences are relevant. We donâ€™t think the differences in the genders are societally imposed roles, and we believe that children benefit when theyâ€™re in that ideal environment where thereâ€™s a mom and dad.â€
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.
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