COSTA MESA/TORONTO, September 20, 2005 ( -Â Paul McGuire is a California radio talk show host who frequently uses his show to urge political action from his listeners. On KBRT, a Christian station that broadcasts to most of Southern California, McGuire is asking his listeners who are pastors of churches, why they remained silent on the attempt to abolish marriage in California.Â

“I recently interviewed Dr. James Dobson [of Focus on the Family] and Dr. James Kennedy [of Coral Ridge Ministries] on my program,” McGuire stated this week. “They both agreed that one of the major reasons that homosexual marriage bills like AB 849 are being passed in California is that the pastors of California are not involved in these issues and are not alerting their people.”

“The number-one reason California keeps seeing gay marriage bills and other anti-family bills passing is that the pastors of California refuse to talk from the pulpit about the serious issues facing California families,” says McGuire. “The problem is not so much the individual Christians,” he says. “The problem is the pastors.”

The gap between the Christian viewpoint of many of the people in the pews and the politically correct approach of their pastors has been noted nearly everywhere and in every Christian denomination.

In Canada the recent legislative demolition of marriage was opposed vigorously by congregation and parish members while few members of church leadership were prominent or consistently vigorous in the fight.Â

Royal Hamel, a minister and director of Watchman North Ministries who worked with members of the defend Marriage Coalition, said that in his fight to bring public opposition to the same-sex marriage legislation, the biggest shock was the unwillingness of pastors to become involved. Hamel told, “The whole issue revealed far more about the condition of the Church than the political realm and that to me is the really serious issue.”

Hamel, who organized large town hall meetings between citizens and MP’s, said, “The terribly low moral state of the church that was exposed is even more serious than what was actually done in Parliament. The truth is that those who are supposed to be the moral watchmen in this country aren’t doing the work. And it indicates that they won’t be willing to do it on other issues either.”Â

The lack of response from the Christian leadership, in both protestant and Catholic circles was a constant source of frustration for activists. Many members of Catholic lay groups were invited in the early stages to participate in meetings on the marriage issue organized by the Ontario Conference of Catholic bishops, but found that urgently required strong action was resisted by the executive of the Conference.Â

Statements from Catholic bishops across Canada, despite a gradually increased flurry of activity, carefully avoided mention of homosexuality itself until near the very end of the debate and safely stressedÂmainly the sanctity and beauty of marriage. The decades-long inattention of Catholic leadership on marriage left many in the movement feeling that the belated attention of the Catholic bishops was far too little and had come 40 years too late.

Several of the few public statements made by Canada’s Catholic bishops on the issue were praiseworthy. In some cases statements were ambiguous at best. Anthony Meagher, Archbishop of Kingston, Ontario, wrote that while marriage was reserved for a man and a woman, “The whole issue of same-sex unions is not as simple as one might think at first glance.” Meagher went on, astonishingly undermining church teaching on the intrinsic disorder of homosexuality, to praise some homosexual unions as “stable, loving, and nurturing,” and suggested that they must be afforded some civil recognition.Â

Similarly, Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Gervais responded on Dec. 8, 2004 to a request from the ‘Ottawa Sun’ that “a homosexual relationship can be considered to be a special one” and“Other ways of supporting and recognizing stable homosexual or non-sexual unions could be found. Certain Europeans nations have enacted legislation on ‘Civil Unions’ or ‘Cohabitation.’” He added “Should these (homosexual persons) be partnered with another person, that relationship should be given whatever rights and privileges support the stable relationship.”

Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in the document “Considerations”, not long before becoming Pope Benedict, that “it is necessary to oppose legal recognition of homosexual unions.” He also wrote “Under no circumstances can they be approved” and “Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts as a serious depravity…”.

Hamel said he was frustrated by the lack of real willingness on the part of religious leadership to actually get into the fight. “You can’t win any kind of a battle whether political or moral if only one army shows up. They ran away with the field because they had no opposing army and it could have been predicted who would have won.”

Hamel reiterated in the protestant community what some activists found was also evident in the Catholic Church leadership. “The need to avoid controversy and protect the tax status created a reluctance to strongly preach on the issue and motivate people to act on it,” he said.Â

“Unless the churches wake up, I do not see Canada having a hope of turning back the tide,” said Hamel. Other members of the defend Marriage Coalition have expressed similar dismay with the response of most pastors and church leaders.

In California, Paul McGuire said the reason the same legislative disaster did not occur was not because of any concerted efforts from Christian leadership, but only because Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill. McGuire quoted Christian writer Francis Schaeffer, who said, “The great sin of the evangelical culture was the failure to stand for truth and its willingness to accommodate to the culture.”

Read’s extensive coverage:

Canadian Marriage Defence Resources:

Canadian Same-Sex Marriage Bill C-38 Passes Second Reading 164-137

Archbishop Anthony Meagher’s statement: