The Right's Campaign Against Marriage Equality in California
September 24, 2008
On Wednesday, September 24, 2008, the latest multi-church conference call by backers of Proposition 8 in California focused on encouraging pastors to raise more money for the initiative, get their church members involved in phone-calling and door-to-door operations, and take part in the "spiritual warfare" of a 40 day fast (beginning that day) that would lead to victory over advocates for equality — aka "the enemy" — also identified as Goliath and Jezebel. Call leader Rev. Jim Garlow claimed 199 locations and "up to" 3,000 pastors. People For the American Way Foundation has reported on two previous strategy calls.
Call leaders reviewed dates for voter registration and early voting deadlines, as well as a schedule of campaign events, including upcoming simulcasts and the Nov. 1 rally at Qualcomm stadium. Organizers made a big push for early voting, because that will free people up to be part of the 100,000-volunteer-strong army that Prop. 8 backers hope to field for GOTV the final weekend before the election through Election Day.
Other events being organized include:
- On September 25, a rally for pastors and lay leaders with Maggie Gallagher and other national speakers is meant to excite volunteers. It will also feature David Parker, a Massachusetts man who the Right likes to claim was jailed for objecting to the teaching of homosexuality in his child's kindergarten classroom, and Alan Chambers from Exodus International, a leading "ex-gay organization."
- An October 1 event for young people and their parents is designed to overcome the messages of tolerance that young people have been inundated with. It will feature McPherson as well as Ron Luce of TeenMania ministries and Yvette Schneider, also from Exodus.
- An October 19 event will focus on the ABC's of protecting marriage. The ABC's are campaign shorthand for the strategy organizers will use to talk to more secular-minded voters. Rather than talking about spiritual warfare, they'll talk about "activist judges," "benefits that gay couples can get without marriage equality," and how marriage equality hurts and confuses children.
A major theme of the call was leaders telling pastors, we know you're busy, but we're making it very easy for you to collect money and steer volunteers into the campaign.
Frank Schubert, whose firm Schubert Flint Public Affairs is overseeing the campaign, said there has never been a mobilization of this scope in any state in the country. "It's never been done on this scale because we never had God's Army." He said the campaign aims to contact every household in the state by phone or door-to-door canvassing, and that they've already done nearly 2/3 of them. Where undecided or soft voters have been identified, the campaign is shifting into persuasion mode, with phone calls and direct mail. The campaign's delayed coordinated yard sign day — they hope to have a million appear at once — is designed to present a huge public show of support.
The final stage will be that 100,000 volunteer GOTV push. Schubert said there's still work for volunteers to do and encouraged pastors to have congregants volunteer through the campaign website. Schubert also made an appeal to evangelicals to shoulder their share of the burden, saying "the LDS church has carried the heavy lifting, Roman Catholics are coming through, it's time for evangelicals to step up."
Schubert was upbeat about prospects for winning, in spite of recent polling. He said his firm had looked at every state where marriage has been on the ballot and claimed that pre-election polls on average understated anti-gay votes by seven percentage points. He taunted equality advocates who might be listening to the call, saying "their efforts are like standing on the seawall when the hurricane is coming — they know it's coming but they can't do much about it."
The campaign is enlisting churches to mobilize a phone-calling campaign through the entire database to find out where people stand on Prop. 8 and encourage them to vote. The campaign website includes a mechanism for people to volunteer as a manager or volunteer caller.
Dran Reese and her husband oversee the "Salt and Light Ministry" at Horizon Christian Fellowship, which makes sure that an information table on Prop. 8 is stocked with voter registration and campaign materials during every service. She encouraged pastors to set up their own teams by identifying one husband and wife team — has to be a husband and wife — and they'd be given training and materials.
Pastors were repeatedly encouraged to hold special offerings for the campaign — they can download contribution forms from the website, hand out envelopes during the service, and ship them off to the campaign. A campaign leader complained that Prop. 8 opponents "seem to have a limitless supply of money from Hollywood liberals" — though in fact backers of Prop. 8 are significantly ahead in the fundraising race. There was also an appeal to evangelical pride on the financial front — Catholics have been stepping up, with the Knights of Columbus giving $1 million — it's time for evangelicals to do more. Schubert encouraged people not to worry about disclosure requirements, noting that no reporting was required for donations under $25, and no disclosure would take place for donations under $99. But he got a bit nervous when Jim Garlow helpfully suggested that a family could avoid disclosure by having a father and his wife and his kids Tommy and Suzie each give $99.
Several call leaders pushed the 40-day fast that starts today, with Garlow joking that he was at his fridge at 11:40 last night packing it away in anticipation. Garlow introduced Lou Engle, saying of Engle, "some people say he's weird. I say 'thank God, so was John the Baptist and he brought us Jesus.'"
Engle, the leader of "The Call" ramped up the spiritual warfare rhetoric, saying "right here today we have about 30 young people giving themselves 18 hours a day, continuous fasting and prayer, to this battle, because this is a spiritual battle." He drew an analogy between "state-sanctioned, state-endorsed legalized sexual immorality" in a Biblical story and the "Elijah-Jezebel showdown" in the state of California.
Engle urged pastors to lead their congregations in 40 days of fasting, confession, and cleansing of their own sexual immorality and compromise. Engle is hoping that massive fasting and the Qualcomm stadium event will lead to a "God effect" that will transform California. "In Jesus' name we light up the victory of the cross over the powers of darkness — let's pray for the greatest awakening in the state of California."
Garlow picked up on the theme, calling for an "avanlanche of love" toward homosexuals that would lead to "an inexplicable revival" breaking out among homosexuals. Garlow also encouraged people to join him in wearing for those 40 days a wristband made of sackcloth, i.e. burlap.