Larry Stickney’s Referendum off to a Bumbling Start
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UPDATE: THIS IS HUGE. Pastor Joe Fuiten, former brother-in-arms with Larry & Oregon Gary, sent out an e-mail this morning quoting clergy and other hard-core anti-LGBTs on how craven this referendum effort is, and why it will fail. No wonder Larry refused to name the members of the “broad-based coalition” he claimed Monday to be working with – it doesn’t exist. Read Fuiten’s e-mail at the bottom of the post.
This is what happens when your carpetbagging, tax-evading leader apparently drops out in disgrace and you replace him with an understudy who openly lies about legislation and thinks it’s smart to advertise his campaign FAILURES on his resume. Here is one reporter’s description of the scene as Larry Stickney officially started the referendum process on Monday to repeal Washington’s as-yet-to-be-signed-by-the-governor Domestic Partnership Expansion Bill of 2009:
Most major ballot measure campaigns (e.g. last year’s assisted suicide measure, or anything by Tim Eyman) milk the news of their filing for maximum free publicity to get the word out. In Eyman’s case, we practically have to roll up our car windows on him as we pull out of the parking lot.
But Stickney was clearly caught off guard – and annoyed – to find several reporters waiting for him at the Secretary of State’s elections division. He initially declined to take questions.
“I’ll have that all in a nice, tidy press release later this afternoon,” he said
Strike 1: Stickney, for whatever reason, tried to slink into the Secretary of State’s office and failed to take advantage of free advertising via the press. This is a guy who bellyaches that the press is ignoring him (4/2/09 email), although he rarely sends out press releases and actively maligns the press by calling them the “Seattle-based homosexual lobby and their left wing media allies & enablers (4/15/09 email)” that supposedly turn a blind eye to the “denigrat[ion of] the faith of hundreds of thousands of Christians (4/3/09 email)” while “the mainstream media continu[es] their near blackout on the homosexual-marriage issue (3/8/09 email).” Despite all this name-calling, Larry still gets lots of attention from important papers such as the Yakima Herald. The Everett HeraldNet has quoted him in 29 stories and even the Seattle Times, which is in what Larry calls “the Seattle red zone”, quotes him in 11 stories.
I would link you to the emails referenced above, but Larry is sloppy and hasn’t updated the e-mail alerts or much else on his website lately. Disorganization and poor follow-through plus his constant attack of the news media — I’m starting to guess why his other campaigns have been failures.
Strike 2: Stickney failed to make good on his promise of “a nice, tidy press release later this afternoon”. He lies about the press supposedly ignoring him, he lies about his own press release, and of course he lies that the referendum is somehow about marriage. Nothing like starting off your campaign by making your few remaining supporters want to slink away too.
Below is the email Joe Fuiten sent to clergy and other faithful followers. Presumably it will eventually be uploaded to his Franlky Fuiten website. Fuiten is not a friend to the LGBT, and has been the public face of anti-LGBT measures in the past and used the same lies about SB 5688 as Larry. This email, then, represents a genuine opposition to the referendum by a genuine enemy of the LGBT. This is most damning for the Oregon Gary & Larry Show. (Emphasis his.)
Subject: Yes or No? Referendum on Domestic Partnerships?
From: Pastor Joe Fuiten
Date: May 5, 2009
Should we RUN a REFERENDUM on DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIPS?
Dr. Joseph B. Fuiten
Over the past week I have been in communication with Christian leaders from around the state as to the strategy of running a Referendum on the “everything but marriage” Domestic Partnership bill. I want to share with you what is being said by others and how I view that approach.
I sent an email to leaders with Positive Christian Agenda with whom I have worked over the last 15 years on this and related topics. I will share both my initial comments and their responses to me. Please take a few minutes to prayerfully consider all the information so you can come to your own conclusions. Here is what I initially sent to the leaders:
Within a few days, the Governor will sign the massive expansion of benefits for homosexuals in domestic partnerships. A lot of effort went into trying to block this but we just did not have the votes after the last election. I appreciate our faithful friends in the legislature who stuck with us. We just didn’t have enough of them.
Now the question is, should be try to run a referendum to overturn it? I would like to put that question to each of you who are leaders of organizations and a part of Positive Christian Agenda. Within the next day or so, would you please email me back your response? I will let you know how the response turns out and what other Christian leaders are thinking.
I would hope that we all could come to a decision that we all could support. I would like to tell you what I am thinking and ask if you think this is correct or whether we should take some other approach. I have made this referendum question a matter of prayer and thought and here is what I am offering for your response. There are both reasons to make the effort and reasons not to.
In my view, there are three main reasons to run a referendum:
FIRST, there is always the hope that we might win.
SECONDLY, making the effort could succeed in raising money and people for the organizations that make the effort. It would create the perception that something was being done and draw like-minded people to that organization.
THIRD, even in a failed effort we would be making a statement of belief. Witness has value.
These reasons have to take into consideration the other side. Here are the reasons why we should not run a referendum:
FIRST, the rule of thumb about referendum and initiative efforts is that you should be ahead by 10% at the starting point if you hope to succeed. I have done two statewide polls on this topic and other polls have been done by news organizations. In the polls that I did, I put the questions to the public in the light most favorable to our side. Both the polls that I have done plus what others have done consistently show us behind to a considerable degree. The rule of thumb would suggest we are a long ways from being able to succeed.
SECOND, the number of signatures required this year is quite a bit higher than what we needed in our failed attempt in 2006. The number is based on how many people voted in the last election. The strong turnout in 2008 adds 20,000 more to the number needed. With a less favorable atmosphere than 2006, the extra signatures become an even more formidable challenge.
THIRD, the public seems to be focused primarily on economic issues. It is hard to remember that you are there to drain the swamp when you are up to your armpits in alligators. We would have to fight hard to get people’s attention and to retain the focus. It would take millions of dollars to get people’s attention when they are distracted by things like a job and mortgage problems.
FOURTH, there is another side to the economic issue as well. The economic downturn has impacted a number of people who have been very supportive of this type of effort in the past. The amount of money needed to convince enough of the general public to come over to our side would be very difficult to raise. Without the money committed to TV advertising, it seems unlikely that we could compete with an unfavorable media.
FIFTH, if we make a referendum effort and fail, the other side will conclude the public is with them on this issue. That will embolden the other side to take the final step of marriage in the next session. I think we can win on the marriage issue but if we deplete our capital of money and goodwill in a failed referendum, we will not have the strength to win the marriage battle.
My belief is that it would be a mistake to run a referendum. I know that some will say that I just lack faith. It might be. I don’t have any interest in being another General Custer. I also know that when Israel decided to enter the Promised Land without God’s blessing they were soundly defeated. If I felt that God was telling us to go ahead, I would do it in a heartbeat. I don’t feel the Lord has said not to, but I cannot get any peace about making this effort.
I am telling you exactly how I feel about this and am asking the leaders of the Christian community to share with me what you are thinking. I would hope we could make a collective decision about what to do.
It is probably too early to discuss alternative strategies, but I am thinking that some kind of effort in 2010 using an initiative process might allow us to make the case on our terms rather than as a knee-jerk reaction to someone else’s action.
Please let me know what you are thinking within the next day or two. Even a one or two sentence response would be helpful.
Pastor Joe Fuiten
Washington Christian Leaders Respond
Not everyone agreed with each point of my analysis but, even with some disagreement, I did appreciate the sincere disagreement so amiably expressed. I have only had one personally negative contact among many dozens of emails and conversations. We clearly have unity in our long term goal of restoring biblical values to our state and country. We have common goals and values even if not everyone agrees to a particular strategy.
I have had conversations with heads of denominations, pastors, members of the House and Senate, political consultants, attorneys who have represented us on these issues in the past, lobbyists, Republican party leaders and staff, leaders of political organizations, leaders of pro-life organizations, educators, current and former candidates for various offices, Catholics and Protestants, funders, a conservative talk show host, activists, and citizens.
I have tried to cast a wide net to get a sense for the attitude of the people who would need to make the Referendum happen. From that a pretty consistent message has emerged.
I would point out that the comments below represent conversations and emails of a personal nature. I am sure that had people known others might read this, they would have formed thoughts more precisely and with all the nuances that normally accompany public speech.
Out of that group, six people have said, yes, we should definitely run a Referendum, three people offered conditional support, and over 25 people said, “DO NOT RUN a REFERENDUM”.
SIX People … DEFINITELY RUN a Referendum
The one Pastor who has contacted me and thinks we should go ahead with a Referendum is Pastor Peter Kulakevich, one of our Russian speaking pastors. Of all groups, the Ukrainian and Russian speakers have been most vigorous in opposing the homosexual agenda. They put a lot of action behind their words. He said:
“Dear pastor Fuiten, We believe we have to use this opportunity to run the referendum. This subject is very vital in minds and concerns of many people now. We should not let people to carry the sense of defeat while there is strength to arise. The biggest loss is loss of freedom and people realize that more and more. So Let us pray and act.”
The strongest supporters of a Referendum effort were Larry Stickney and one other who does not wish to be named.
Larry Stickney recently formed an organization called Washington Values Alliance. He is a long-time friend and has been a member of the church I Pastor. He said:
“Hello Pastor Joe. Thank you for the opportunity to provide ‘Ten Good Reasons to Run a Referendum Now to Save Marriage in Washington!’ (1.) “If we lose marriage, we will lose our culture.” (Senator Sam Brownback, R-KS) (2.) By running a Referendum, we are required to gather only half the signatures needed for that of an Initiative. (3.) A Referendum to roll back SB 5688 (which grants full spousal rights for homosexual couples in everything but the name) will keep the law from going into effect and put the measure in front of the voters in November. If we wait, the new law goes into effect in June and the Defense of Marriage Act will be challenged in the courts and likely overturned this same time next year. We have no time to waste, we have no other recourse, they are inside the wire. (4.) Hate crimes laws were enacted within months of the passage of same-sex marriage in Canada. The federal “Hate Crimes Bill” passed the U.S. House on Thursday of this week. We may be running out of time to address this issue without fear of jail time. I believe it would be foolish to wait another 10 months to two years to run an initiative under the current circumstances. (5.) A Referendum to the people to roll back Senate Bill 5688 would force our opponents to get the “YES” vote, which is always more difficult. People tend to vote “NO” if confused about an issue. I am told that the advantage for the “NO” side can be as high as 9 – 13%. (6.) From a fiscal standpoint, raising money for our side is always a challenge and we expect it will be this year. However, waiting until next year to run an Initiative would be even more difficult in that we would have to compete with important legislative and congressional races. The economic downturn plays no favorites and has hit our opponents as well. The leading homosexual rights group here in Washington has been forced to trim staff. (7.) By running the referendum now, we will not be taking something away from someone. Instead, we are bringing a controversial proposed law to the people of Washington State for ratification or denial. (8.) By running a referendum now, we can carry on the momentum we gathered during this year’s session when hundreds packed out the hearing rooms and thousands came to the Stand Up for Marriage Rally on the capitol steps. We do not know what the political climate will be like next year. Right now, this issue is HOT and front and center with the people of Washington. Your legislators and the folks at the legislative hotline will attest to this. (9.) I believe that Christians are paying more attention to the issues at hand during these rough economic times (because of a new found reliance on the Lord) and are more willing to get involved in political matters than they were during the good times. Our best volunteer this year had time to help our organization because he was unemployed for many weeks. It may be that others temporarily out of work will be able to provide a wealth of volunteer time and labor to the referendum campaign. (10.) Faith and Freedom Network has up to date polling data by Elway that asked one simple question: “In your opinion, should homosexuals be allowed to legally marry?” A majority said NO. Conclusion: This is a winnable issue for our side and not a fight we should run from.”
Larry can be reached at email@example.com.
Heidi Lestelle is a long-time friend and co-worker. She wrote as a part of a longer email:
“I have listened to both sides of the argument, and I see validity on both sides. However, I tend to come down on the side of the referendum. We don’t know what is going to happen in the next year, but I presume that the homosexual lobby is only going to get stronger and bolder — throughout the country. The courts under Obama are only going to become more liberal … With every passing day, we lose more young people to the post-modern philosophy (no absolutes) and older people (with the Judeo-Christian value) to death. Time is not on our side. With fear and trembling, I will join the referendum team and seek to point them to the Lord at every turn. I may not have a lot of influence, but I can pray.”
Pat Burgess of Concerned Citizens of Pierce County wrote:
“Of course, we should push ahead with all our strength.”
I have worked with Floyd Brown on projects for 20+ years. He was in my youth group when he was a child and we have been life-long friends. He also has been a member of my church in Bothell. He thinks we should run a Referendum even though he thinks it will likely lose. He said:
“Pastor Joe. In my experience your Fifth reason not to run is not necessarily correct. Campaign abilities build over time. The more battles you have, the more campaign ability you develop. It is like exercising a muscle. Go to the gym it grows. Stay away and it shrinks. Donors for the next effort may be different than the ones that gave last time. I agree totally with your political analysis. I think we will likely lose, but the names we gather and the organization built will prepare us for when they go for marriage. They are going to push for marriage whether we lose the referendum or not. For me the most compelling argument you make is that we have to be light in the darkness. I don’t like this issue, I don’t want to fight on this issue, but still I think we may need to fight and raise the banner as a witness. I know you don’t lack faith. I deeply respect that you have stood strong for our beliefs over the years when other Pastors have been weak. We have deep problems in the American church with sin and teaching on sin. I see greater difficulties ahead and we may all be called upon to make great sacrifices. But we will all be closer to HIM in that sacrifice. We can never match HIS willingness to give. I pray for you every day. Warm regards, Floyd Brown”
As a personal aside, I would like to point out that almost everyone who has disagreed with aspects of my analysis is a life-long friend. I hope that anyone can see that you can disagree with me and still be my friend. I do not hold my views as the extension of my person. I don’t know how all this will shake out. I do know that friendship is not dependent upon agreeing with me.
THREE People … CONDITIONAL Support a Referendum
A couple of people offered conditional support if certain financial or other thresholds could be met.
Ray Garza has been active in our causes for years. He wrote:
“I don’t think we have the support do it. If we could get several hundred pastors on board maybe, but otherwise I don’t think we have the support.”
Attorney John Johnson, who has been a stalwart on many issues, has asked if my recommendation would be any different if there were a substantial amount of money available to tell our side of the story. In his usual fashion, he has also offered to help make the right things happen. He said:
“Thanks Joe. I agree that it would be ideal to have everyone united on our approach to this issue and see if any differences can be at least temporarily set aside. It may be helpful to identify a few core principles leaders could agree to: First, the money raised will only be used for strategic campaign. Second, we will build a united coalition with everyone who supports traditional marriage. Third, we will be proactive now and have a plan to let the voters of this state express their will at the right time and in the right way. Fourth, we will trust God to provide the necessary resources and pledge our own sacrificial support to take an effective stand on behalf of our families and our community. Fifth, we will have a council of like-minded people to make consensus decisions and submit our personal opinions to the majority trusting the Holy Spirit to guide the council as a whole.”
Mary Emanuel, of Silent No More Awareness Campaign: said:
“Hi Joe. Thanks for all the good things you do for life and family. My opinion, I think we should fight now with a referendum. However, how we fight it will determine whether or not we win at some later date. We must be united with a strong and simple message, and it must be faithful to the Gospel. If we start using language that is supposed to appeal to ‘moderates’ or ‘independents’ we will surely lose and make winning at a later date that much harder. Hope to see you soon under more cheerful circumstances.”
When you read the following comments, I think it will be clear to you as it is to me that a significant consensus exists among Christian leaders in Washington State that we should not do a Referendum.
25+ People … DO NOT RUN a Referendum
Attorney Steven T. O’Ban, who successfully argued the Defense of Marriage Act before the state Supreme Court wrote:
I concur with Joe’s analysis. I would add to his fifth “no” point that a loss would almost surely be the political cover the many same sex marriage proponents in the House and Senate need to get the votes for a SSM bill. Here is how it would work. Though our opponents would use the canard in the campaign that we oppose gays having basic rights, e.g. the right to visit their partners in the hospital, we would argue domestic partners is all about bringing in SSM through the judicial backdoor. After we lost, our opponents and the media would say the campaign was indeed about SSM so the voters of WA must want SSM. A loss would also help gays in the courts for the same reason.
Dan Kennedy, the long time director of Human Life of Washington wrote:
I agree that a referendum at this time would be not only be a mistake, but would actually set us back in a number of ways. Given the public’s current apathy toward this issue, and the money necessary to gain their attention, a loss at the ballot box would accelerate public perception that it’s not an important issue. Further, if we are to make the most of the 2010 election – where I feel we will have a real opportunity at both the state and national level – candidates will need money and volunteers. Once we regain some leverage in the state and nation, then we can reevaluate what course of action to take regarding this issue.
Larry Sundquist, who was the largest funder of our Referendum efforts in 2006, agreed with my analysis.
Political consultant, Tom Henry wrote:
Now is not the time. Too much else on peoples’ minds and not enough in the way of available financial resources to either get on the ballot, never mind to win. I think our folks are just shell shocked by the speed of all that is happening and running around like perpetual chickens with our heads cut off. I have seen nothing approaching religious and/or other opposition that amounts to a hill of beans.
Philip Irwin, the courageous and dedicated Seattle City Light employee, wrote:
I’m more of a follower than a leader on questions like this and so I tend to agree with Pastor Fuiten. It is a gut wrenching conclusion but I think you are right.
Political Science Professor and debate coach Gary Gillespie wrote:
“My belief is that it would be a mistake to run a referendum.” Pro-lifers tried to run two referendums without much hope of success (lack of funding, manpower) and losing only entrenched the opposition. They used the loss against us over and over. We need the funding for a campaign ready first.
One of our longtime Vancouver leaders and activists, Josephine Wentzel, wrote as part of a longer email:
Voters are immune or desensitize to the word “gay marriage” right now. Besides, they think we hate them. There isn’t a fertile ground to plant seeds because we don’t have their attention. People are worried about their jobs, and the economy. They are still licking their wounds from losing an election to a maniac leader that is running amuck. I cannot see the conservative voters coming together to gather 150,000 signatures in TWO MONTHS time. It would take almost two years to pry most of them from their own despair!
Cindy Zapotocky has been a very strong and consistent supporter of biblical values in the public square. She wrote:
I chatted with two people yesterday whose opinions I value about this matter … both of whom have long experience in these kinds of political actions. One friend felt that a referendum would be an uphill battle, and we should wait for the push for same-sex marriage to take the fight to the streets.The other friend did not diss the idea, but he pointed out some interesting technical issues I hadn’t thought of. First, he thinks the entire original bill was carefully crafted to make it very difficult to counter….it is very long, overturning over 100 statutes. He said he doesn’t even know how you could get it on one page, and even if an addendum page were allowed to be “attached” to petitions, it would add manual difficulties and increased costs for printing. Secondly, he says titling the bill would most probably work against us. It could not help but say “repeal of rights” which would put us in the position of being labeled “active discriminators” against gay people and seniors. He agrees with me. He said if you don’t hire paid signature gatherers, you would need a hugely intense group of Christian foot soldiers to do the job–is there that commitment yet from Evangelicals? (I do not believe Catholics will participate. Have Catholic Bishops weighed in yet?) Aside from costs of printing petitions, you would have to have a sizeable budget for marketing to counter the barrage of PR that the other side would put out. (he noted “The Stranger” newspaper in Seattle is already savaging (name removed by editor.) We all know how well funded they are! Prop 8 in California was sizably funded by the Mormon Church (they are now under huge attack for it). Are they “onboard”? He noted to me a scene from the newest movie version of “The Alamo”, that Sam Houston is marching his army all over the place with Santa Ana in pursuit. Houston is asked “Why don’t we turn and pursue them?” Houston answers, “Because I’m waiting for the ground that will give ME the advantage.” He cautioned me…this battle will require a huge amount of patience and self-discipline to win. We need to be careful not to dissipate our resources until the timing is right. (Prayer coverage would also have to be well organized.) I send you my prayers for wisdom, Cindy Z.
Wayne Lawson of Spokane wrote:
As president of a small group called the Spokane American Family Association, I am concerned that to make a successful attempt at a referendum or initiative gathering project, there should be enough finances to begin with, to pay signature gatherers. In the past I have participated in three statewide initiatives to help protect children from the harmful effects of pornography. We worked very hard for three different years trying to get this initiative on the ballot, but very few people were willing to go door to door or stand at stores to get signatures. I have become convinced that unless some successful business persons, etc. became interested enough to fund a social issue like this, to the extent of providing money to pay signature gatherers, the effort probably would be futile. Then there would be the need for finances to compete with the influx of a seemingly endless supply of pro-homosexual money from in state and out of state, to finance their advertising blitz to defeat the referendum or initiative, if it did get on the ballot. I am concerned as to whether most Christians are really concerned enough about public policy social issues to really get out and work that hard on making it succeed. Homosexual activists seem to have the money, and the pursuit of homosexual marriage is their religion. I appreciate your concern about this very serious issue.
Dave Griffin wrote:
Thank you Pastor Joe for talking the time to evaluate the marriage issue, I really hope we as a community of believers will stand for the Kingdom. The points you make are important, but I’d like to approach this from another direction. Momentum seems to be riding with the gay activist. They moved for partial rights last year and succeeded, in a politically difficult environment. This year, legislation was started early, and moved ahead of other priorities. Momentum is beginning to build for fiscal restraint at federal and state levels. Tea parties have been focused on the fiscal side, not the moral values side of Reagan’s three legged stool of conservative thinking. Many of the main stream Republicans I’ve talked to, think that the Republican message should focus on fiscal restraint, and that we Christians just don’t understand that ‘gay marriage’ is just ‘fair’ and that Christians need to get over it. So there is strength in fiscal restraint, but marriage is not an important priority – and the presentation could be considered divisive to moderates the mainstreamers feel they need to court. The other issue is who will be voting this year and where, turnout in other words. State wide there is initiative 1033 which will draw out some turn out. What concerns me is the elections in King County, where the executive seat will be drawing voter turn out, additionally five council seats (nonpartisan, but 3 R’s and 2 D’d). We don’t want, in my opinion, to be competing with a weak state wide vote in an off election year, when King County D’s will have reason to turnout. Susan Hutchison is a wonderful candidate, but doesn’t have funding support. I wish Christians voted like members of the NRA, but they don’t. If the political wind picks up in our favor during the months leading up to the 2010 election cycle, we very well could pass a state wide vote favoring marriage. I think many state Legislature seats could be won by Christians who will step up and stand up for our values. I think this would be the time to run an initiative. Framing the issue is vital. Personally my view is that the US Constitution is an inspired document with God’s hand every where. The problems we have had occur when we try to put people in boxes. Blacks only partial voting rights, land owners voting rights, Japanese internment, and women’s suffrage are all attempts to classify people and have caused difficult problems. Traditional marriage has served our county well and built strong family and community ties, what strong compelling reason do we have to change that which has served us so well? Why do a few gay activist want to destroy an institution that Shinto, Jews, Muslims, and Christians hold as an important foundation, why is it so important to attack these people and their institutions? A strong county and state are founded on a foundation of bedrock. Families are part of that bedrock, marriage between God, man, and woman. Families budget and flourish when fiscal responsibility is practiced at all levels. Defense and protection of county and state depends on health functioning family support systems backing up those serving. Real hope and change come from supporting institutions that made our county great, God’s hope we will accept His offer, leading to changed lives for God’s Kingdom.
Maureen Richardson, State Director of Concerned Women for America wrote:
While I originally told Larry that I would back any efforts to put forth a referendum on 5688, I have since had other thoughts. I too believe that it is absolutely vital that we stand on the battlefield with the Lord’s principles and for the witness. While we will not win all the battles, we know that God will win the war and He asks us to stand in the gap for the culture. However, the wall has been under attack by the government and the media for so long that it is no longer protecting the culture. I do not want to lose on this issue twice. I believe that we have to mount an education campaign before we can even hope that the general public will support a referendum against the expansion of what too many consider “fairness” and “equal rights for everyone”. The complexity of explaining the significance of marriage and the traditional family to our culture in a fashion that the majority of people will understand is something we have to fine tune and stay on point with (all of us–a difficult task!). Right now, as you said, the media has re-defined family and the whole issue has been compromised and confused to such a degree that most do not understand the danger to genuine marriage from so-called domestic partnerships. God created them male and female–somehow we have to get that point across to a non-Bible-based society, using terms they will accept. Also that marriage and traditional family are the bedrock foundation of all healthy societies, despite the fact that we humans have messed up so terribly. We have plenty of real statistics to prove that last point (e.g. Scandinavia). The financial issues you have addressed are also very pertinent to any action, unfortunately. So, I agree with you. Let the legislature go for marriage in 2010 and we have a very clear issue. With even a small advantage in those polls and very clear language and a bit of luck with the media and a whole lot of prayer (not the quick kind, but on-you-knees corporate prayer), we can win on the marriage question. Perhaps our next meeting should be a prayer session only. We desperately need God’s guidance in this.
Steve Hall has led the prayer movement very faithfully for several decades. He wrote:
“Hi Joe. I agree with your conclusion. We both know that with God nothing is impossible, but I think you are discerning His direction at this time. My personal belief is that if God’s people will commit to massive, submitted prayer and obedience to do whatever He directs (how we vote, what we initiate, what we sign, etc.), that His will will be done. At the National Day of Prayer breakfast that we have in Bellevue this coming Thursday, we’re going to pray that every person, place and thing in Bellevue will be under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, as well as Washington State and this nation. In the process, we will be praying Hab. 2:14. If the knowledge of who Christ truly is will permeate every fiber of His people, I believe will unite in honoring and obeying Him. Thanks for your diligent efforts. They are making a difference. CHRIST IS ALL.
A Seventh Day Adventist Pastor from Eastern Washington wrote me expressing his view that we should not move forward with a Referendum. He wrote:
“There has been a “perfect storm” for liberalism, and I personally don’t think now is the time to beat the conservative drum, especially in politics. I think we can do more good bringing people to the Jesus of the Bible, and also pray for our nation’s soul.”
A Pastor from Moses Lake expressed a view that is held by many Pastors.
Here is what Jon Bartlett wrote:
Pastor Joe, I don’t think we should do the referendum. To me the question is not whether our government gives benefits to homosexuals. The issue is whether as Christians we can be effective in leading homosexuals to Jesus so that he can begin to transform their lives. I am certainly with you in my belief that a homosexual lifestyle is not the lifestyle Jesus wants anyone to be living. But using political processes to “win” puts us into an adversarial relationship with homosexuals. I don’t believe that “making a statement of belief” or presenting a “witness” in this way always has value. It could end up further alienating people from Christ because it looks like an effort to control. In their eyes, we’re flexing our political muscle as a first step toward enforcing our values upon others, even if that’s not what we’re doing. Now like I said, I would be delighted to see every homosexual come out of that lifestyle through the work of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in their lives. The question is HOW do we go about helping that happen. I’m fairly convinced that political processes are ineffective. We could use our time, money and talents in a lot more creative and loving ways and make a much bigger impact. Wouldn’t it be better if the law allowed for benefits to homosexual partnerships, but there just weren’t that many of them? In my mind that would be a much bigger “win” than having the benefits restricted but a large, and entrenched homosexual community that is nearly impossible to reach with the gospel. And I’m not advocating total abstinence from politics. I vote my conscience and try to stay informed and would always encourage Christians to run for office or get involved in some way. It’s just that I’ve come to separate success for a Christian agenda within American politics from success in the Kingdom of God. The two aren’t always the same. Thank you for your thoughtful letter. Keep praying and listening, and I will do the same.
One of our politically active and key lay leaders in Kingston wrote:
“I believe that this is not the time to run a referendum, but will the door be open at a later date? My reasons are that it would take a massive grass roots effort to gather signatures in the time required and the $ necessary to combat the bias in the media and the well funded opposition.
Lisa Flores, Director of Life Choices SHARE Program wrote:
I don’t feel that a referendum would be a good idea at this time. I think once we begin to see the ramifications of this bill, people will be more open to changing it.
Pastor Jerry Beebe, Executive Presbyter for the Assemblies of God wrote:
I do not see any point in running a referendum on this issue.
There are a great many in the position that Pastor Jay Timm in Addy, Washington expressed. They just want to be in the battle and follow the right plan. He said:
“Personally, I think the Christian community should respond and possibly sooner would be better than later. But whatever those leading the charge, like yourself, consider wise could be the direction the Lord is leading. I will pray that the Christian community will be unified in whatever effort is deemed necessary.”
Wayne Taylor, Pastor of Calvary Fellowship in Seattle, and one of the leaders of May Day for Marriage wrote:
“Joe, I appreciate and frankly often rely on your political instincts. This is one of those times. I agreed with all your thoughts, especially the downside of doing the referendum. And I agree with your conclusion of “not now”.
This was echoed by Pastor Gary Vanderhoff and other Pastors who wrote.
Steve Beren is a two-time candidate for Congress in Seattle which shows he is fearless. Here is what he said:
Pastor Joe, I would like to add a few other observations. We are talking about a tactical decision to be made by people who are in agreement in support of traditional marriage, and who are in opposition to the incremental efforts being made by the liberals regarding “domestic partnerships” and “civil unions,” which are only intended to chip away and eventually destroy the traditional definition of marriage. I am willing to assume good will on behalf of all the major organizations and individual leaders involved in this effort. If someone favors a tactical course calling for an immediate referendum, let’s assume it is not for selfish reasons (such as publicity or money for that organization). An early effort may be rushed, shortsighted, ineffective, or even counter-productive – but that judgment has to be made on its merits. Likewise, those who favor more upfront planning and greater upfront coalition effort should also be given the presumption of good will. If someone favors more upfront effort for a delayed but more successful campaign, let’s assume it is not for improper reasons (such as lack of commitment to traditional marriage; undue moderation; undue political expediency; or fear of pushing a controversial issue). A delayed effort may be mistaken and misguided – but that tactical judgment has to be made on its merits. I would like to see a meeting of the major organizations and individual leaders involved in this effort. Such a meeting should be an honest and candid discussion among people and groups that recognize each other as sincerely committed to traditional marriage, and sincerely committed to defeating the liberal anti-marriage agenda. Such a meeting should not exclude any substantial “stakeholder” group or leader – and should be held in good faith. In particular, it should include some of the courageous legislators who voted with us in the most recent vote in Olympia. Obviously, it would be best if we could reach consensus and work in unison. If that is not the case, however, those that go ahead should not blast the others as “less committed,” and those that think delayed action would be more effective should not blast the others as “reckless.” My own view is that it would be best if a referendum were held on the same day as the November 2010 elections. This would allow more upfornt education and upfront coalition building, along with endorsements from candidates – whether challengers or incumbents. Also, such a strategic and tacticial delay would perhaps be more effective for another reason – the current economic situation in the region, state, and nation. The additional time for such a pro-marriage campaign would allow us to have meetings, teach-ins, rallies, and other events across the state, and would allow us more time to get media coverage, especially on friendly radio shows. I believe that conditions are ripe for conservative candidates to gain seats in the 2010 Olympia elections, in large part because of the disastrous Obama/Gregoire economic policies. Turnout for candidates who favor tax cuts, spending cuts, fiscal responsibility, and government reform will be high in November 2010. And most of these candidates will also tend to support traditional marriage – particularly if we raise the issue in a parallel campaign, conducted simultaneously, and culminating on the same election day. I would certainly sign a petition, and I would certainly vote to uphold traditional marriage, even if I thought the effort was not well planned or well prepared. I strongly believe that a strong, united, coalition effort is needed to maximize the chance of victory. I believe even a rushed effort might result in victory, but I quite strongly believe a November 2010 vote would have even a better chance of success.
Bob Higley has done lobbying for Biblical Values in Olympia longer than anybody. He has represented WERG, and Positive Christian Agenda for a long time. He wrote:
I see more doubt than encouragement. I agree with your reservations. In addition to what you have observed, remember that last fall 74% of the public voted yes to DR. Assisted Suicide. This is an issue dear to the hearts of the other side. The only organized opposition that I knew of came from a local Catholic Church in Bothell, and the entire Catholic church failed to mount any real opposition that I knew of. I did not know of much of an Evangelical movement on it either. You hit it on the nail when you talked about the money to print the forms and mount an advertising campaign. Both the abortion issue of the early 90′s and the recent same sex marriage issue were weakly funded.
Dr. John Vasko is another great champion in our causes. He has believed in biblical values and has supported the cause for decades. He thought the lower numbers needed for a Referendum compared to an Initiative suggest a move now. On the other hand he expressed concern that “pietists” don’t care and mainliners support the wrong side. He doubts there will be the commitment to raise the money needed to make it happen in large part because there is very little “buzz” about all this in the churches.
Kirby Wilbur, the famous conservative talk show host in Seattle, told me he felt the time was not right for a referendum. If you ask him on the radio his opinion, he can give you the full shot there but he makes a compelling case for not going forward with it.
Judy Jennings is the Director for Washington Federation of Independent Schools and works regularly in Olympia. She wrote:
Joe, I agree with your assessment of the issue. The economic dust needs to settle before we move ahead. I think 2010 will tend more conservatively on a host of fronts.
Heidi Borton is a long time leader and activist. She wrote to me:
“I am with you. I don’t think this is a good time to try to put forth a referendum on this. We are “up to the armpits in alligators” as you so aptly state. In fact, some of us think we are at the beginning of those pangs that will lead to the Lord’s return. It seems that disasters are multiplying exponentially. On the other hand, should the Lord tarry, and God give you the green light, we can go ahead when the time is right and financial resources (or political backlash to this flood of liberalism) give us momentum for such a battle.
CONSENSUS … DO NOT RUN REFERENDUM
In addition to these I have quoted, I talked to many others including denominational leaders, and political representatives of denominational leaders. I have talked to Republican Party leaders and to Mainstream Republican leaders. I have asked leaders for their opinions and they have given them.
Personally, I join you in your commitment to biblical values lived out in public. That being said,
I think the overwhelming sentiment is that we should not do a referendum on domestic partnerships. I would be very disappointed to be dragged into an effort that is unlikely to succeed and very likely to ultimately be counterproductive.
We have not sufficiently counted the cost or built the grassroots organization to make it happen. I respect those who think differently about how to accomplish our common goal. We are united as to goals. I appreciate that my friends are willing to express their disagreement with me. I think that is what friends do.
I do not accept the notion that we have to run a Referendum just because we have to do something. Doing the strategically wrong thing, even in a good cause, is not wisdom. I am willing to die on the hill but I am not willing to die on every hill. I don’t think we are settled on what to do but I am settled that a Referendum is not the thing for the moment. Several have called for concerted prayer and organizing. We need God’s help in Washington State in more ways than one.
None of us is happy to see our culture presently sliding so far from God. Spiritual tide ebbs and flows. We remain certain of the final outcome. People of the Christian faith have taken the lead in building a great country based upon God and his Word. It has provided unparalleled freedom for all. It would appear that we are bound and determined to try building a country without God and upon a different foundation. It will take time for the consequences to be felt by the general public. When that times comes we want to be available to point in the Lord’s direction.
In the meantime, let us be faithful to God and create illustrations of Godliness.
Pastor Joe Fuiten
P.S. My thanks to Danille Turissini who handles my public work for me. She is an intelligent and hard working friend who blesses me with her efforts.
Dr. Joseph B. Fuiten is the senior pastor of Cedar Park Church in Bothell, Washington, and he is the former president of Positive Christian Agenda. Currently, Pastor Fuiten serves on the Board of Directors for the Family Policy Institute of Washington, an associate organization of Focus on the Family.