Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Seattle Times: Fuiten and "A Leaderless Army"

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REFERENDUM 71 UPDATE: It has all come down to this: The number of signatures mailed in and hand delivered today and tomorrow will determine whether Referendum 71 is on the ballot or not. It is that close. The mail volume yesterday was very high, if that continues today and tomorrow we should have enough.

If you plan to mail in your signatures, you must do so today. If you need to have them picked up, we can arrange to have someone meet you and hand deliver them. If that is the case, please contact our office at or Larry Stickney at 360-631-1894.

Your efforts, in many cases, have been above and beyond what most would do. We know this is a spiritual matter, not a political one for those who are involved. Please join in prayer today that God will bless the effort and give us the needed signatures to put this issue on the ballot.

We will report more as we know more regarding exact numbers.

Seattle Times: Fuiten and "A Leaderless Army"

The Seattle Times reported yesterday that the religious right is deflated and in disarray. Pastor Joe Fuiten agrees.

He told The Times, "As a political movement, it is a leaderless army milling about the field."

Fuiten says his, "position on what role the church should play on gay rights is shifting."

He said he holds, "the idea that people ought to be free to live their life and live the way they want to---I don't object to that."

He also affirmed that he is publicly opposed to Referendum 71, won't personally sign it and that the Referendum effort, "drags us backward into a negative fight we're not going to win."

"I don't want the church to be viewed as oppressive," Fuiten explained, "and opposed to people living their lives and eking out whatever happiness they can."

Pastor Emeritus Jan Hettinga of North Shore Baptist said Christians at his church feel, "they've been there and done that on the social issues and all we got was really, really bad press and a bad image."

He says branding the disagreement over same-sex marriage as hatred and bigotry was a smart strategy by gay rights supporters.

Whatever the intention of this article, it may serve all Christian conservatives or evangelicals well. It may cause us to rethink what we do and why we do it.

I would like to share some personal comments, observations and possibilities.

Perhaps the appearance of being "deflated and in disarray" may be greater to those who are in transition as their personal positions are shifting. Or to those outside the evangelical Christian community. It is true that 20,000 gathered at Safeco Field a few years ago in a rally for marriage, however, a few months ago, 2400 people gathered on the steps of the Capitol, in the rain, for marriage, with only a few days notice. And this was without the support of those in transition in their thinking. And without any media advertising to promote the event.

It has become apparent through the R-71 effort to gather signatures that there are many across the state who believe deeply that Christians are called to speak to the culture and in this country, that can be done through the established political system. Preaching the Gospel and standing for Godly principles in government, such as natural marriage, is not mutually exclusive.

They do not feel they are making a choice between standing for what they believe to be biblical values in the culture and also being a witness of the transforming grace of Jesus Christ and His Gospel.

They do not believe they are choosing a message of "hell" over "hope".

And political activism on the part of evangelical Christians has never been the "most important thing" or "the defining piece". A personal relationship with Jesus Christ has always been the most important and defining thing.

James Wellman, a professor at UW, says the religious right is in crises, "I don't think they know what they are going to do next."

Admittedly, some are in transition and are struggling to understand what God wants them to do next. Some, however, are not.

Perhaps our death is exaggerated.

I agree with Pastor Hettinga, it is unfortunate and uncomfortable that anyone who resists the deconstruction of marriage is branded as a hater or a bigot. I have not seen hate or bigotry on the part of those standing for marriage on R-71. I have seen conviction and conscience.

Christian advancement and advocacy has often been unpopular. The word Christian, itself, was not originally intended to be complimentary. Perhaps we will always be "labeled" if we publicly express the absolute biblical values on morality.

But is that reason to withdraw from the dialog on the culture?

America is unique and exceptional in many ways. In fact, there are those who believe America was birthed for special reasons---a manifest destiny.

America's Founders were clear that our country's future was connected to the principles upon which it was founded. America's pastors and Christian leaders were essentially responsible for leading and shaping what this country would become. And they did not abandon their "call" to preach the Gospel in doing so.

If Christians do not speak to the culture, who then will be the conscience of the culture?

Clearly there is a redefining of positions within the Christian community. This is a time in which I believe all people of faith need to reconsider what they do and why they do it.

This is a time of realignment. Those who feel people of faith must continue to stand for righteousness and principle in the culture will find each other and form new and meaningful alliances and relationships. Those who do not will also find new alliances.

That may be interpreted by some as crises or dysfunction, but I believe new and effective voices and methods will emerge.

I do not personally believe that because some leaders have passed away or are aging and tiring of the process that Christian activism in our culture is disappearing.

There are those of this generation that defy the statistics. They believe in traditional biblical values and will assume their role in leadership in the culture as others fade from the scene.

There has been a forceful and public effort to undermine and defeat the efforts of Referendum 71 by those who seek to advance the homosexual agenda and those within the Christian community whose position may be shifting.

Today we do not know if there will be enough signatures to put R-71 on the ballot. That will be decided over the next couple of days. It's close.

Whatever the final verdict will be on R-71, this effort has more clearly defined two distinctly different views within the Christian community. It will likely have a lasting effect in redefining relationships in both churches and organizations.

I sincerely hope and pray that a shifted position, aging and weariness will not result in a repeat performance of attempting to undermine and discredit each time those who have not shifted, attempt to address an important cultural issue.

I am personally not weary and will continue to work with those who are willing to stand for what is right in our culture and in our government. There are others who agree.

There are new leaders to be elected to our government and new legislation to be passed that will advance and preserve Judeo-Christian values for this generation and generations to come.

I trust you will stand with us.

God bless you.

Gary Randall
Faith & Freedom

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