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Location: Tallahassee, Florida, United States welcomes all opinions from any religion or viewpoint in the common appreciation of Chick tracts. This blog, however, will highlight religious events and controversies that would be of special interest to regular Chick readers. You don't have to agree with them or each other, but if you read Chick tracts or Battlecry, you might expect these type stories to be addressed. (Sorry, no personal attacks allowed.) All main postings are from writers and any responses are from the public

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Baptist School Teacher Arrested for Sex with 15-year-old

A former Christian school teacher in Pennsylvania was arrested last week after she allegedly had sex with a 15-year-old boy who used to be in her class.

Nicole Jacques, a slim and attractive 25-year-old woman, is accused of having sexual encounters with the boy many times in her apartment. But all of the incidents were reportedly after she abruptly resigned from her job at Calvary Baptist School, Lansdale Patch reported.

Though she wasn't employed, she continued to communicate with the victim and the relationship turned sexual, cops said.

Cops told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the boy's father reported Jacques on Feb. 10 after learning of the alleged debauchery.

Cops say the student told them that he'd had sex with Jacques several times at her apartment in Hatfield.

She was charged with 20 counts of unlawful contact with a minor and 20 counts of corruption of a minor, according to ABC News. See Chick's THE OUTCAST.

More Trouble For Catholic Priests in Gay Sex Abuse Scandal

In a far-reaching sex crimes coverup trial underway in Philadelphia, a former Catholic high school student testified today that a priest stalked him, locked him in a school conference room and ordered him to unzip his pants.

The student -- now a 36-year-old man -- said loud banging on the locked door halted the priest, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The explosive testimony came on the third day of a historic trial against two Roman Catholic priests in the Philadelphia archdiocese. The Rev. James Brennan is accused of attempting to rape a 14-year-old boy in 1996. Monsignor William Lynn is accused of two counts of endangering the welfare of a child for covering up cases of molestation and abuse by members of the clergy.

Lynn, 61, is the first Catholic official in the U.S. charged with jeopardizing children by going easy on suspected priests, according to the Associated Press.

Both priests have said they are not guilty.

The unidentified man who took the stand on Wednesday was 15 when he was allegedly locked in a conference room with the Rev. Francis Trauger. According to today's testimony, the clergyman first accosted the teen while the student was looking at a gay pornographic magazine in a bookstore in the Center City neighborhood in 1991.

Trauger identified himself as a priest and asked to see the magazine he was reading. The priest also demanded to know the boy's name, but the witness said he refused to tell him.

"Don't worry," Trauger said, according to the witness's recollection. "I'll find you."

Weeks later, the boy was pulled from class and found Trauger waiting for him. Trauger kept him in a conference room for an hour until a faculty member came looking for the student.

Trauger is not a defendant, but prosecutors used the testimony to build its case against Lynn, who they say improperly dealt with priests suspected of abuse. Lynn was secretary of clergy from 1992 to 2004 and entrusted with investigating complaints against priests.

Documents from a 2005 grand jury revealed the archdiocese knew about the boy's complaint and others against Trauger going back to 1981, the Associated Press reported. He was moved around to six parishes until 2003, when church officials removed him because of a criminal investigation.

Several priests were also summoned by the prosecution to the courtroom on Wednesday. Father Joseph Okonski said that he found pornography and an explicit letter to a boy in the rectory room. The graphic materials were reported to church officials, according to the witness, but the priest was reassigned to another parish without any restrictions.

Instead of looking for a plea deal, Lynn chose to go to trial. His attorney Thomas Bergstrom said that Lynn tried to confront the sexual abuse problem in the church's ranks. Those efforts, Bergstrom claimed, were allegedly blocked by Lynn's superiors -- like former Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua.

But on Tuesday, prosecutors presented dozens of documents and other evidence they claimed showed Lynn lied to and misled parishioners about a priest who took leave from their church in 1999. Edward Avery was getting a secret evaluation and treatment -- at Lynn's recommendation -- after a man accused Avery of molesting him. In one letter, Lynn urged a churchgoer to ignore the rumors of misconduct levied against Avery. In another, he wrote that he'd heard nothing but compliments about the priest who was later defrocked.

Last week, Avery pleaded guilty to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a 10-year-old altar boy and was sentenced to up to five years in prison, the Philadelphia Daily News reported. See Chick's SIN CITY.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Tibet Protestor Sets Himself Ablaze Against Chinese Invaders

A Tibetan exile lit himself on fire and ran shouting through a demonstration in the Indian capital Monday, just ahead of a visit by China's president and amid a series of self-immolations done inside Tibet to protest Beijing's rule.

Indian police, who had already tightened security in New Delhi for President Hu Jintao's visit, swept through the protest a few hours later, detaining scores of Tibetans.

The man apparently had doused himself with something highly flammable and was engulfed in flames when he ran past the podium where speakers were criticizing China and Hu's visit.

Fellow activists beat out the flames with Tibetan flags and poured water onto him. He was on fire perhaps less than two minutes, but some of his clothing had disintegrated and his skin was mottled with black, burned patches by the time he was driven to a hospital.

The man, identified as Jamphel Yeshi, sustained burns on 98 percent of his body and his condition was critical, according to the Association of Tibetan Journalists.

Protesters initially prevented police from taking him to the hospital, but officers eventually forcibly took him away.

Yeshi, 27, escaped from Tibet in 2006 and had been living in New Delhi for the past two years, activists said.

Hu is expected to arrive in India on Wednesday for a five-nation economic summit.

While activists had been whispering Monday morning that something dramatic was expected at the protest, organizers insisted they were not behind the self-immolation.

"We have no idea how this happened, but we appreciate the courage," said Tenzing Norsang, an official with the Tibetan Youth Congress. He called on participants at the summit to discuss Tibet.

"If you care about peace you should raise the issue of Tibet," he said. "Hu Jintao is responsible for what is happening there."

The New Delhi protest comes amid a series of self-immolations inside Tibet. About 30 people — many of them monks or nuns, and often in their teens or early 20s — have lit themselves on fire over the past year, calling for the return to Tibet of the Dalai Lama and to protest Chinese rule over their homeland. The Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet amid a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule, has blamed China's "ruthless policy" for the self-immolations. China accuses the Dalai Lama of stirring up trouble.

At the site of the protest, a large poster of Hu — with a bloody palm print over his face — said: "Hu Jin Tao is unwelcome" at the summit.

More than 600 demonstrators marched across New Delhi to a plaza near the Indian Parliament to protest Hu's visit. Some carried posters saying "Tibet is burning" or "Tibet is not part of China."

China says Tibet has always been part of its territory. Tibetans say the Himalayan region was virtually independent for centuries.

Monday's was the second Tibetan self-immolation in India in recent months. Last year, a young Tibetan exile set himself on fire outside the Chinese Embassy. That man suffered minor burns.

"This is what China faces unless they give freedom to Tibet," said Tenzin Dorjee, a young onlooker.

Hu will be attending a summit this week of the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, who form a grouping known as BRICS.

Police in New Delhi were already bracing for protests by the tens of thousands of Tibetan exiles who live in India. Security around the summit location has been tightened, and roads leading to the hotel will be closed to the public a day ahead of the meeting.

Rajan Bhagat, a spokesman for the Delhi police, did not know how long the protesting Tibetans would be held, or how many had been taken into custody.

Tibetan protesters normally are held for anywhere from a few hours to one day — often to stop them from further embarrassing Indian authorities during Chinese visits — though detainees legally can be held for up to one week. See Chick's KINGS OF THE EAST.

Church Gunman Overpowered

A shotgun-toting man kicked in a church door during Sunday services before being disarmed by congregants who saw the armed man coming through the church windows, locked the doors, and sprang on him after he burst inside, sheriff's deputies said.

No one was hurt at the Southside Freewill Baptist Church in Boiling Springs, a community in Spartanburg County.

Deputies charged Jesse Gates, 38, with burglary, disturbing a place of worship, and attempted kidnapping. The kidnapping charge was lodged because Gates allegedly pointed his weapon at the church pastor, resulting in his being restrained, Spartanburg County Sheriff's spokesman Lt. Tony Ivey said.

Congregants spotted Gates approaching across a parking lot and locked the doors, Ivey said. When Gates kicked in a side door, a half-dozen members hiding in the wings jumped him, Ivey said.

Gates told reporters as he was led away in handcuffs to a patrol car taking him to jail that his children had been taken away and he was trying to get someone to listen to him. Gates said he asked the church for help, but was frustrated.

"I've been praying, begging," Gates said. "They won't let me see my children. I tried everything. What can you do?"

Gates' sister, Amanda Gates, 34, was charged with providing her brother with the shotgun and driving him to the church.

Gloria Gates said her son Jesse had been attending the church for a short time. Gloria Gates said she spoke to her daughter Amanda, who told her she didn't know what Jesse planned.

Spartanburg County Sheriff's deputies said no one was hurt Sunday at the Southside Freewill Baptist Church in Boiling Springs.

Deputies charged Gates with burglary, disturbing a place of worship, and attempted kidnapping. The kidnapping charge was lodged because he allegedly pointed his gun at the pastor.

Officers charged 34-year-old Amanda Gates with providing her brother with the shotgun and driving him to church.

Gates told reporters as he was led away in handcuffs that his children had been taken away and he was trying to get someone to listen to him.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Santorum Gets Fundy Type Endorsement

"I don't care what the liberals say, I don't care what the naysayers say, this nation was founded as a Christian nation...There is only one God and his name is Jesus. I'm tired of people telling me that I can't say those words.. Listen to me, If you don't love America, If you don't like the way we do things I have one thing to say - GET OUT. We don't worship Buddha, we don't worship Mohammad, we don't worship Allah, we worship God, we worship God's son Jesus Christ."

In a revival type speech, Greenwell Springs Baptist Church pastor Rev. Dennis Terry introduced Family Research Council president Tony Perkins and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Christians, according to Rev. Terry, are the conscience of the state and even the key to turning the economy around. The pastor offered some pointed words about abortion, gay marriage, and prayer in schools, shouting about 'sexual perversion' and putting God back in Washington, D.C., as Senator Santorum was seen clapping, if not cheering, in the background.

“I know what’s in his heart. It’s the fact that he’s a Christian,” said Vickie Raabe, a 69-year-old Baptist who told the Washington Post she would be voting for Santorum in 2012. Evangelicals have become Sen. Rick Santorum's major source of support in the 2012 election as they turn out in record numbers for the Catholic candidate.

But as then Presidential hopefuls Senator Barack Obama, Gov. Sarah Palin, and Senator John McCain found out, endorsement from pastors can be a double edge sword.

At the end of the evening Rev. Terry prayed over the presidential hopeful asking for God's will to be done in the upcoming election intoning: "God, have favor on Rick Santorum." See Chick's REV. WONDERFUL.

Dutch Catholic Churches Castrated Gay Whistle Blowers

Reports have surfaced that reveal at least ten teenage boys were castrated in the 1950s by the Dutch Roman Catholic Church as a "treatment" for homosexuality, the Telegraph reports.

Dutch journalist Joep Dohmen, reporting for the NRC Handelsblad uncovered ten cases of the castrations, one of which was suffered by Henk Heithuis, who was castrated as a minor for reporting to police sexual abuse by a priest that he endured while in the boarding home.

Although the priests were convicted of the abuses, Heithuis was still transported to a Catholic hospital, and underwent a surgical castration as a treatment for homosexuality and, according to the report, a punishment for tattling on the clergy.

Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports that the new information wasn't included in the large Deetman Commission report published three months ago on sexual abuses in the church -- and furthermore -- that the commission received a complaint about the castrations last year, but claimed there was a "lack of sufficient leads" to warrant an investigation.

The reports also uncovered minutes of official meetings held in the 1950s, which revealed directors of the Catholic institutions deciding parents did not need to be involved in decisions -- even with minors, Dutch News reports. They also proved government officials were present in meetings where the castrations were discussed.

The Deetman Commission, led by Wim Deetman, was founded by the Catholic church in 2010 following widespread reports of sexual abuse in the church. In their report, the commission found the number of victims who grew up in church institutions to be between 10,000 and 20,000. See Chick's ARE ROMAN CATHOLICS CHRISTIANS?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Massachusetts To Give Condoms to Pre-Teens

A Massachusetts school has taken its first step toward giving students as young as 12 free access to condoms at school.

The Springfield School Committee voted 5-1 Thursday in favor of the "Comprehensive Reproductive Health Policy," which aims to promote safe sex, prevent sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy.

Under the proposed program, students would be able to acquire condoms from school nurses and high-school based clinics, according to The Republican. Those who receive the contraceptive would be counseled on abstinence and proper storage and use. See Chick's BABY TALK.

Eastern Coptic Pope Dies

Egyptian Coptic Christian Pope Shenouda III, the patriarch of most of Egypt's estimated 12 million Christians, died on Saturday from old age, his political adviser told Reuters.

Bells tolled in Cairo's Abbasiya district, site of Egypt's main Coptic cathedral, as the news spread.

Shenouda, 88, became the 117th Pope of Alexandria in November 1971, and was popular among Egypt's Christians and Muslims alike during his four decades in power.

His successor will play a central role in forging the church's position in the country after the overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak last year. Islamist parties have since swept parliamentary elections and will dominate the debate over drawing up the country's new constitution.

"He died from complications in health and from old age," adviser Hany Aziz said. Shenouda had recently returned from abroad where he had been seeking medical treatment.

Shenouda's criticism of the government's handling of an Islamic insurgency in the 1970s, in which Christians were targets, and his rejection of Egypt's 1979 peace treaty with Israel landed him in trouble with then-president Anwar Sadat.

Sadat banished him to the Wadi el Natrun monastery north west of Cairo and stripped him of his temporal powers.

Under more than a quarter century of President Mubarak's rule, relations between the government and the Coptic church were generally smooth, with the Pope portrayed in state media as a symbol of religious harmony, despite occasional outbreaks of sectarian violence.

On Saturday, condolences poured in from Egypt's Muslim leaders and from politicians.

"Egypt has lost one of its rare men at a sensitive moment when it most needs the wisest of its wise - their expertise and their purity of minds," said Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayib, grand imam of Egypt's highest Islamic authority, al-Azhar.

"He held the question of Jerusalem and the Palestinian problem in his conscious," the state Middle East news agency quoted him as saying.

Mohamed Mursi, chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), said Pope Shenouda had a long journey of service during the nation's history.

"The Freedom and Justice Party sends its deepest condolences to the Egyptian people and our Christian brothers over the death of Pope Shenouda III," he said in statement on the website of the FJP, which took almost half the seats in Egypt's new parliament.

Father Anglos Ishaq, head of the church on Egypt's north coast, said a temporary replacement would be chosen until a new pope was elected.

"It is too early to know what will happen next, but what is known is that the oldest bishop in the Holy See will be chosen as charge d'affaires until a new pope gets chosen by elections from different church councils in the different provinces."

He said the pope's body was expected to remain in a coffin for three days, provided doctors gave their approval.

"All details about the burial and how long his body will remain for people to come and receive blessings will be decided by doctors," Father Anglos said. "But surely people will get some time to see the body and receive blessings." See Chick's THE POOR POPE.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Pastor Sued for Killing Neighbor's Cat

Moody the cat fell off a bridge and died on Jan. 15.

The Texas pastor accused of imprisoning his neighbor's 12-year-old cat in a cage and then chucking him over a bridge was slapped with a civil lawsuit on Wednesday, demanding that he testify in a jury trial and fork over money to the cat's owners.

Rick Bartlett of Bastrop was charged with animal cruelty in January after joggers found Moody the cat clinging to life at the bottom of a 40-foot drop under a bridge, according to the negligence suit obtained by The Huffington Post. Later that day, Moody died from injuries suffered when he fell from the bridge. See Chick's CLEO.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Catholic in England Fight Gay Marriage Push

The Catholic Church in England intensified its campaign against government plans to legalize same-sex marriage Sunday, urging the faithful to protect the "true meaning" of matrimony for future generations.

In a letter read in 2,500 parish churches across the country during Sunday Mass, the church's senior archbishops argued that the proposed change would reduce the significance of marriage.

"The law helps to shape and form social and cultural values. A change in the law would gradually and inevitably transform society's understanding of the purpose of marriage," Archbishop Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Peter Smith said in the letter.

"There would be no recognition of the complementarity of male and female or that marriage is intended for the procreation and education of children," they wrote.

The archbishops ended the letter by calling on Catholics to fulfill their duty to make sure "the true meaning of marriage is not lost for future generations."

Britain's government plans to allow everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, to have the option of a civil marriage. Prime Minister David Cameron has openly backed the plans, and the equalities minister will launch a consultation later this month on how to change the legal definition of marriage to include same-sex couples.

Human rights activists said the Catholics' opposition amounted to discrimination.

"They want the law to discriminate against gay couples. Discrimination is not a Christian value," said gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

Currently only heterosexual couples are permitted to get married in Britain, while civil partnerships, introduced in 2005, are limited to same-sex couples.

The archbishops' message came after Pope Benedict XVI on Friday denounced what he called the "powerful" gay marriage lobby in America and told visiting U.S. bishops to not back down in the face of "powerful political and cultural currents seeking to alter the legal definition of marriage."

Last week Keith O'Brien, the head of the Scottish Catholic Church, condemned the British marriage proposals as "madness," and accused the coalition government of trying to "redefine reality." See Chick's DOOM TOWN.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Vatican Outed For Banking Corruption

VATICAN CITY, March 8 (Reuters) - The Vatican has for the first time appeared on the U.S. State Department's list of money-laundering centres but the tiny city-state is not rated as a high-risk country.

The 2012 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report was made public on Wednesday and Washington's list of 190 countries classifies them in three categories: of primary concern, of concern and monitored.

The Vatican is in the second category, grouped with 67 other nations including Poland, Egypt, Ireland, Hungary and Chile.

It was added to the list because it was considered vulnerable to money-laundering and had recently established programmes to prevent it, a State Department official said.

"To be considered a jurisdiction of concern merely indicates that there is a vulnerability to a financial system by money launderers. With the large volumes of international currency that goes through the Holy See, it is a system that makes it vulnerable as a potential money-laundering center," Susan Pittman of the State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, told Reuters.

The category of most vulnerable centres includes all members of the Group of Eight countries, including the United States, Germany, Italy and Russia, because the size of their economies and banking systems can facilitate money-laundering. It also includes small centres such as Britain's Channel Islands.


The Vatican Bank, founded in 1942 by Pope Pius XII, has been in the spotlight since September 2010 when Italian investigators froze 23 million euros ($33 million) in funds in Italian banks after opening an investigation into possible money-laundering.

The bank said it did nothing wrong and was just transferring funds between its own accounts. The money was released in June 2011 but the investigation is continuing.

The Vatican's new financial transparency laws set up internal regulations to make sure its bank and all other departments adhere to international regulations and standards, and cooperate with foreign authorities.

Two months ago, Italian newspapers published leaked internal letters which appeared to show a conflict among top Vatican officials about just how transparent the bank should be about dealings that took place before it enacted its new laws.

The Vatican Bank was formally known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR) and was entangled in the collapse 30 years ago of Banco Ambrosiano, with its lurid allegations about money-laundering, freemasons, mafiosi and the mysterious death (many say murder) of Ambrosiano chairman Roberto Calvi - "God's banker". See Chick's THE POOR POPE.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Kirk Cameron Weighs In On Social Issues

'80s sitcom star turned religious activist Kirk Cameron is not a fan of homosexuality and he isn't shy about sharing his feelings on the subject.

During a new interview with Piers Morgan the "Growing Pains" heartthrob who transitioned from a "teen-idol-atheist in Hollywood and became a devoted follower of Jesus Christ in the middle of [his] career" explained that he believes homosexuality is "unnatural... I think that it's detrimental, and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization."

On the issue of marriage equality Cameron remarked, "Marriage was defined by God a long time ago. Marriage is almost as old as dirt, and it was defined in the garden between Adam and Eve -- one man, one woman for life till death do you part. So I would never attempt to try to redefine marriage. And I don't think anyone else should either. So do I support the idea of gay marriage? No, I don't."

When asked what he would do if one of his six kids told him, "Dad, bad news, I'm gay," Cameron responded, "I'd sit down and I'd have a heart to heart with them, just like you'd do with your kids."

Morgan shot back, "I'd say, 'That's great, son! As long as you're happy.' What would you say?"

Cameron offered, "I wouldn't say 'That's great, son, as long as you're happy.' There are all sorts of issues we need to wrestle through in our life... Just because you feel one way doesn't mean we should act on everything we feel." See Chick's SIN CITY.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Public Vote Threatens Gay Marriage in Maryland

With Maryland Democrats legalizing gay marriage without a public vote, moderate opponents and religious leaders are counting on members of their congregations, especially in black churches, to upend the legislation at the polls this fall.

Many African American church leaders oppose gay marriage in the liberal-leaning state that's nearly one-third black, and President Barack Obama's re-election campaign is expected to drive many of their congregants to the polls. Opponents submitted draft language for a ballot referendum to overturn the measure just after it passed the Legislature last week.

Democrat Gov. Martin O'Malley signed the bill into law Thursday, and it takes effect in January 2013.

Over the weekend, some pastors at predominantly black churches were already using their sermons to shop the referendum effort to their congregations, asking members to sign up for email alerts, put their name on petitions and overturn the law come November. The Catholic Church, which has 1.2 million parishioners in Maryland, has also openly opposed the bill.

A Sunday service at the Hope Christian Church in Beltsville was filled with murmurs of agreement as a spokeswoman for the Maryland Marriage Alliance rallied the mostly black congregation against the law.

"We will have the last say on how marriage will be defined in Maryland," spokeswoman Dee Powell shouted repeatedly to the audience of several hundred.

Many churchgoers said they are bound by their faith to vote against gay marriage.

"It's a personal value and opinion. It has nothing to do with President Barack Obama," said 54-year-old DeBorah Martinez, who has attended Hope Christian for three years.

When a gay marriage bill fell short in the legislature last year, black pastors were given much of the credit for pressuring lawmakers to oppose it. The measure was pulled from the floor of the House as leaders realized if fell short of the needed votes.

Opposition from black pastors in Maryland belies an overall political stance that routinely includes their endorsement of Democratic candidates and support for their agendas.

Opponents will need to collect nearly 56,000 valid voter signatures, equivalent to 3 percent of the people who cast ballots in the 2010 gubernatorial election, to put the measure on the November ballot. Even gay marriage advocates expect the referendum to end up on the ballot.

Six states and the District of Columbia currently recognize gay marriages. The state of Washington has also legalized gay marriage, and its law takes effect in June. Voters there are expected to petition the measure to referendum this fall as well.

Maine legalized the unions for same-sex couples in 2009, but later that year became the only state overturn a such a law passed by a legislature.

Meanwhile, about 30 states have constitutional amendments that seek to prohibit gay marriage, most by defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

Donald Norris, chairman of the department of public policy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, said black churches could heavily influence the referendum, but liberal voters who come out to support Obama could offset the votes against same-sex marriage.

A number of factors could tip the vote on a referendum, Norris said. For example, a weak Republican presidential candidate could mean conservative voters stay home and don't cast ballots against the law.

"It's going to really depend upon a variety of things that are going to happen between now and November," Norris said.

Gay marriage advocates are hoping that young voters — whom they expect to support their cause thanks to pro-gay indoctrination in public schools — will turn out for Obama as they did in 2008.

"I think Obama's election turns out a number of different people," said Sultan Shakir, campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, a coalition of gay rights groups that worked to get the bill passed. "(There is) a lot of attention around people who attend church, but there are plenty of other demographics who are going to be turned out."

The advocates also think it is inappropriate to leave their special interest issue to the discretion of voters.

"It's sad to me that anyone would think that it's OK to put up the rights of a minority to a popular vote," said Lisa Polyak, chairwoman of the board of directors for the gay rights organization Equality Maryland. "We have children, we have lives, we have jobs and we just want to go about them with integrity."

Proponents of gay marriage are also counting on religious leaders who support of the bill to influence their congregations and for labor unions to urge their members to vote to keep gay marriage legal. Some black pastors who supported the measure as a matter of civil rights appeared publicly with O'Malley, a Democrat, during the legislative debate.

Babatunde Adedayo, a 29-year-old from Upper Marlboro, said the president and his stance on gay marriage will likely influence his peers in November. Obama supports civil unions, but has not publicly endorsed marriage for same-sex couples

"I think this affects every facet of our culture," Adedayo said after the service at Hope Christian. "As a black African American in America, it is something the black church takes seriously and depending on Barack Obama's stance on this, it will affect a lot of people." See Chick's SIN CITY.