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Conservatives Say Religion Under Attack By Gays

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Conservatives Say Religion Under Attack By Gays

by The Associated Press

September 14, 2006 - 5:00 pm ET

(Washington) Religious conservative leaders, sensing declining alarm over same-sex marriage, are warning that the debate over homosexuality has prompted attacks on religious freedom.

By expanding the discussion from marriage to religious expression, social conservatives say they will reconnect with religious voters and religious leaders who don't necessarily view same-sex unions as a threat.

"There are a number of pastors that said, 'Look, we don't get involved in politics, I'm not going to get involved in this issue, I just want to preach the gospel,'" said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. "When they realize their ability to preach the gospel may very well be at stake, they may reconsider their involvement."

Perkins and others are building a case file of anecdotes where they say religious people have spoken out against gay marriage only to be punished. Perkins specifically cited the decision by Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich in June to fire his appointee to the Washington area transit board after the board member referred to homosexuals as "persons of sexual deviancy."

The board member, Robert J. Smith, said he was expressing his personal beliefs as a Roman Catholic.

The subject of religious expression will be the main theme of an Oct. 15 gathering in Boston of conservative religious and political leaders that will be broadcast to churches nationally.

Many social conservatives credit the furor in 2004 over gay marriage for mobilizing voters in key states who voted for President Bush. Since then, however, 16 states have passed initiatives or legislation banning same-sex marriage and several court decisions have upheld those bans.

"As the immediate threat has diminished so has the awareness," Perkins said.

Eight states have ballot initiatives in November to prohibit gay marriage, including some states with closely contested congressional races. Perkins said religious conservative groups planned to use direct mail and the Internet to alert voters about the stands candidates have taken on the marriage issue.

©365Gay.com 2006

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