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2003 PE Report


Americans find comfort in ‘nesting,’ but connecting is another matter (December 22, 2002)

Viewer discretion advised: Reality-based programs stoop to new low (December 15, 2002)

A/G among fastest growing faith groups (December 8, 2002)

Christians play crucial role in foster care (November 24, 2002)

A/G churches remember with outreaches (November 17, 2002)

Elderly face added woes from credit card debt (November 10, 2002)

PE Kidz News from BGMC (October 27, 2002)

Cyber-evangelists find innovative ways to share gospel (October 20, 2002)

Risks, stigma accompany wearing of tattoos (October 13, 2002)

Women lead on-campus ministries (September 29, 2002)

Tobacco, alcohol, gambling industries find underage Internet client base (September 22, 2002)

Marijuana, cocaine have abusive company: Ecstasy, meth and prescription painkillers (September 15, 2002)

September 11: A day that changed American Christians forever (September 8, 2002)

Congress, courts clash over Internet filtering issue (August 25, 2002)

People with disabilities bless churches (August 18, 2002)

Short-term youth binges can result in long-term habit (August 11, 2002)

Christians aim to preserve traditional marriage (July 28, 2002)

Payback time: Christian volunteers motivated to give back to community (July 21, 2002)

Urban training centers minister
to ever-growing population
(July 14, 2002)

E-mail rumors dupe multitudes, hurt credibility (June 30, 2002)

Not so innocent: PG-13 films increasingly push sex, language limits (June 23, 2002)

Skipping church: Why are some Americans staying home on Sunday? (June 16, 2002)

Fudge fellowship: Pastor's wife treats tavern clientele (June 9, 2002)

Persevering nomadic church finally reaches promised land (May 26, 2002)

Tragedy brings A/G church, community closer to God (May 19, 2002)

Couples find God's calling in adopting, raising children (May 12, 2002)

A/G chaplain ministers to women in maximum-security prison (April 28, 2002)

Youth center offers alternative to teens (April 21, 2002)

A week without television (April 14, 2002)

Technological know-how aids San Jose church outreach (March 31, 2002)

Cincinnati racial reconciliation brings inner peace to inner city (March 24, 2002)

District's fund-raising efforts aid pastors planting churches (March 17, 2002)

GED program an effective ministry (March 10, 2002)

Building relationshipis at heart of women's ministries outreach (February 24, 2002)

Single-minded devotion: Unmarried ranks offer ministry opportunities (February 17, 2002)

Bethany College honors black minister pioneer (February 10, 2002)

A/G quarterback wins Unitas Award (January 27, 2002)

Camp Melody plants song of love in boys' hearts (January 20, 2002)

Pastor breaks giving record after 10 days atop billboard (January 13, 2002)


2001 News Digest stories


2000 News Digest stories

Christians aim to preserve traditional marriage

(July 28, 2002)

By Kirk Noonan

Civil unions gave homosexual couples the same rights and benefits as married couples in Vermont two years ago. Since then, homosexual-rights advocates have lobbied other states to adopt similar laws. Some states, including California — the most populous — have stopped just short of legalizing civil unions and granted homosexuals many rights traditionally reserved only for married couples. A handful of other state legislatures are taking a long look at civil unions, and Connecticut even considered the legalization of homosexual marriage earlier this year.

Such prospects have energized supporters of special rights for homosexuals.

"The mere existence of Vermont civil unions is, no doubt, helping many Americans accept the idea of legalizing gay marriage," Deb Price, a homosexual syndicated columnist, wrote in a March column. "The Netherlands, which last year became the first country to open marriage to same-sex couples, had first gotten used to a marriage-like system known as registered partnerships."

The thought of same-sex marriages in the United States has many Christians alarmed and ready to defend the sanctity of traditional marriage. But according to some ministers, how Christians go about defending an institution they believe is a cornerstone of society can mean the difference between an eternity with or without Christ for countless souls.

"We told the leaders of our churches not to fall into castigating homosexuality as greater than other sins," says Dennis Marquardt, Northern New England district superintendent and pastor of Assembly of God Christian Center in Vergennes, Vt. "We know we have to be compassionate and reach out to homosexuals and love them while not giving the impression that we condone their sin."

For some that has been easier said than done. Prior to civil unions becoming law in Vermont, protesters, some claiming to be evangelical Christians, marched around the state capitol chanting derogatory slogans.

"That only intensified the anguish homosexuals said they received at the hands of Christians," says Marquardt.

Mark Williams, 44, a Christian counselor in Vermont and director of an ex-homosexual support group, agrees. "People who didn’t know much about evangelical Christians came away with nothing that would appeal to them," he says of the protests. "It set Christians in Vermont back in terms of evangelism."

Opponents and proponents of civil unions range from intolerant to almost indifferent. But opponents PE Report spoke to, though not in support of condemning homosexuals through demonstrations, do have strong feelings when it comes to the issue of same-sex relationships that go beyond platonic.

"Civil unions do a lot to devalue the institution of marriage as the foundation of our society and culture and they put children at risk," says Craig Bensen, 53, executive director of Take It to the People, a nonprofit group in Vermont that aims to protect traditional marriage. "Vermont had slowly but steadily given ground to gay activism and that made it easy for the [state supreme] court to say homosexual marriage was a logical next step."

Bensen notes Vermont’s removal of sodomy laws in the 1970s then anti-discrimination statutes that gave homosexuals special rights in the 1990s. "Those sorts of things," he told PE Report, "indicated to us that Vermont and its legislature were moving in the direction of full rights for homosexuals."

By January, 4,371 couples had entered into Vermont civil unions. Of those couples, only 609 lived in Vermont. Williams says many homosexual couples are using Vermont to "start pushing their own states to recognize civil unions."

To combat such proposals at least 30 states have established "defense of marriage laws," which define marriage as being between one man and one woman. But many Christian leaders say civil unions will become a fact of life in every state and one day lead to the legalization of homosexual marriage in the United States. That could have been the case in Vermont, says Bensen, if a grassroots movement had not prevented it from happening.

"Only because of the stand of Roman Catholics combining with evangelical Christians were we able to convince politicians that if they went straight to homosexual marriage they would pay a huge political price," Bensen says. "Plus, by preventing them from getting full homosexual marriage and making them use another word we prevented them from being able to go to the U.S. Supreme Court and sue for the elimination of the Defense of Marriage Act and the recognition of homosexual marriage at the federal level."

As homosexual advocates continue their push for same-sex marriages Christian leaders in Vermont warn citizens in other states, where civil unions are being considered, to remain vigilant in their opposition, but also advise Christians to exercise grace and wisdom.

"Love those in the homosexual community and let them know that their sin, like that of adulterators and fornicators, can be forgiven and that there is transformation available in Christ," says Marquardt. "Our goal has been to do that as lovingly as possible without compromising the message of Christ."

 

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