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Cloer to rally pastors for marriage amendment

Conference call host sites sought



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ORLANDO (FBW)—The pastor of one of the largest Southern Baptist churches in Florida has been named to lead a new effort to rally pastors to pass the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment in November.

Clayton Cloer, senior pastor since 2003 of the 5,000-member First Baptist Church of Central Florida in Orlando, will be a “voice of a pastor’s perspective” and “help rally churches and call upon and awaken pastors around the state,” Yes On 2 Chairman John Stemberger told Florida Baptist Witness.

The Florida Marriage Protection Amendment was qualified in February for the November ballot as Amendment 2. Marriage amendment backers launched its “Yes on 2” campaign in April with simultaneous news conferences in 10 cities across the Sunshine State.

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The amendment reads, “Inasmuch as marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.”

In contrast to other institutions of American society, Stemberger said: “The church is the only remaining institution in society that stands as a beacon of hope; and as salt and light to preserve a decaying and lost culture. Same sex marriage is not inevitable. The church of Jesus Christ can hold the line to protect this human institution. If Florida pastors will take a stand for God’s design in human relationships—and lead their people to vote ‘Yes on 2’—we can and we will prevail.”

Stemberger stressed that with a 60 percent approval required in Florida to pass state constitutional amendments, the involvement or lack of involvement of churches could make the difference.

“All the polling shows that this will be an extremely close vote,” Stemberger said. “Every vote cast, every dollar donated, and every hour volunteered, will make a huge difference. We are all going to be kicking ourselves if we lose this vote by thousands or even hundreds of votes. One church participating—or not participating—could easily make the difference.”

Stemberger said Cloer came highly recommended by his pastoral peers and is a “gift from God to serve the church and the state of Florida in this moment in our history.”

Cloer told the Witness his role will be to “wake up pastors in the state to speak up so that their people will show up on Election Day and vote for the marriage amendment to protect marriage. There has to be an awakening that occurs among our pastors to see the critical time in which we are living and the critical nature of this issue.”

Pastors must be the “moral conscience” of the state, Cloer said, noting the marriage amendment is a matter of morality, not money, domestic partnerships, senior adults or other claims made by opponents.

The marriage amendment is about “moral marriage between a man and woman, the institution that has existed for all of civilization.”

Quoting Proverbs 14:34, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people,” Cloer told the Witness that same-sex marriage will harm Florida and the marriage amendment will protect the “first institution that God designed.”

With four new Florida Supreme Court justices to be appointed in the next year and a pending lawsuit in Miami-Dade County seeking to overturn a ban on homosexual adoptions, Cloer said there is danger that Florida’s statute defining marriage as only between one man and one woman could be in jeopardy.

Florida is “ground zero” for the battle for marriage in America, Cloer said.

“If we institutionalize same-sex marriage as being moral and legitimate, it will open the door for many other sexual experiences to be proclaimed as moral or legitimate—things like polygamy and bigamy, even incest. So, we must stop here and now and define what morally accepted marriage is,” he said.

Cloer urged pastors to host conference calls for other pastors on Aug. 27, Sept. 24, and Oct. 8 that will educate and mobilize pastors for the marriage amendment. He hopes to have 100 churches host sites for the conference calls, but currently has only 25 sites.

He also urged pastors to order the “Church Action Kit” and view Glenn Stanton’s article, “Why Not Gay Marriage,” on the Yes on 2 Web site (www.yes2marriage.org).

“I want every pastor by early October to speak up on the issue of marriage in our state,” Cloer said, adding that he will also be encouraging pastors to financially support the marriage amendment effort by taking an offering in their churches.

“My role is to help pastors empower their people to wake up, speak up and then show up to vote,” he said.