Opponents of a pair of gay rights bills aren't mincing any words: "Marriage and morality are under attack again in Oregon!" read a recent letter from a group called "Concerned Oregonians" to church leaders around the state.
The letter was an appeal to pastors and their congregations to support the referendum on State Bill 2 and House Bill 2007 (antidiscrimination and domestic partnerships). It was penned by David Crowe, who also runs the Restore America conference, which met last February to rally leaders from around the country to fight against liberal causes.
At that event, Crowe told the Mercury that his mission was to politicize Oregon's evangelical churches to block things like domestic partnerships. Hence, his multi-church letter-writing campaign.
But the letter didn't just fall into the hands of sympathetic conservatives—it was also delivered to Reverend Chuck Currie of the Parkrose Community United Church of Christ. Currie fired back a response, saying, "Mr. Crowe, it is your actions in support of legal discrimination that damage the moral fabric of our state. Discrimination is incompatible with Christianity."
Crowe and his compatriots have until the end of September to collect the 55,000 signatures they need to refer both laws to the November 2008 ballot. They're organizing something called "Marriage and Morality Petition Sunday" (see a theme emerging?) on August 19, and have a goal of getting 800 churches to gather 80 signatures each. On July 22, they also claimed to have raised enough money to trigger a $15,000 matching grant from an anonymous donor.
"I believe they have a fighting chance to collect enough signatures," Currie told the Mercury, "which is why we need to respond early and immediately."
"They have more numbers than us in terms of evangelical Christians, but I know that in the past, we've been able to out-organize them," he added.