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The 8 Controversy: Mega Update

In preparation for church chats and Sabbath afternoon conversations on what has turned out to be a pretty hot topic in Adventism, particularly in California, here’s a roundup of what’s been happening.

On Sept. 3rd, the Pacific Union Conference choose not to endorse Prop 8, unlike their action in 2000, yet the Church State Council, under the leadership of Alan Reinach, has used the mailing lists of NARLA and well as their “Legislative E.lert!!!!” list to get out their Yes on Prop 8 message. In addition, a group centered at Doug Batchelor’s Sacramento Central Church, calling themselves “Conservative SDAs” have started the Adventists For Prop 8 site.

Making a traditional Adventist religious liberty case against this politicization of Adventism on a very divisive issue, Five young Adventists (including me) started Adventists Against Prop 8.

In addition to fact-checking the initial case law claims of the Church State Council, Adventists Against Prop 8 has released a video and treated this as a witnessing opportunity to the larger public.

Representing Adventists who are against Prop 8, Loma Linda University professor of religion Julius Nam has been quoted in Southern California’s Press-Enterprise, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Redland’s Daily Bulletin and the East Bay Area’s Contra Costa Times. In addition, Julius was interviewed by a southern California NPR radio station in a discussion about the controversy in the Mormon and Adventist Churches on this issue. Here he is at a press conference convened by members of the Asian-American community.

The numbers to date:

  • Adventists for Prop 8 has 1468 signers, of which 934 are from Calif. Their Facebook site has 36 members.

  • Adventists Against Prop 8 has 1004 signers. Calif. residence is not clear. Significantly the AAP8 Facebook Cause site has 656 members.

While the pro-Prop site leads with people signing the petition, they have only 5% of the Facebook members which seems to signal a trend within college-age and professional Adventists toward tolerance on this issue.


Pastor Jared Wright sent letters to Adventist Churches in California, giving the religious liberty argument on this issue.

Earlier this week, Adventists For Prop 8 sent out an email with the subject line: “Be Scared California… Be VERY SCARED!”

. . .on May 15, 2008, four liberal San Francisco judges threw aside the vote of millions of Californians forcing the legalization of gay marriages. Since that shameful day the state has experienced record forest fires! – A record budget crisis! – State-wide drought! – Record home foreclosures. Not to mention the general economic meltdown.

Gay activists are kidnapping the definition of marriage, the state, and our freedoms. Unless we resist this robbery of our liberties, judgment will be at our doors! Vote — yes, Yes, YES on Prop 8!

This raised quite a brouhaha among even their own endorsers and they issued an apology:

Last night we released an email associating same-sex marriage with the judgments of God. The title was: “Be Scared California… Be VERY SCARED.” The email generated emotions on both sides of the issue but on further reflection, we regret that we used scare tactics to drum up support for Prop 8. We hope that you will forgive our intemperate remarks earlier, and continue your support for this vitally important measure.

Some prominent Adventist endorsers on both sides:


Doug Batchelor

President, Amazing Facts Ministries

Neil Nedley, M.D.

President, Weimar Institute & International best selling author

Jerry N. Page

President, Central California Conference Association of the Seventh-day Adventists

Herbert E. Douglass, Th.D.

Theologian & Best selling Adventist author

Mark Ferrell

Senior Pastor, San Francisco Central SDA Church


Stephen Chavez

Managing Editor, Adventist Review

Mitchell Tyner

Retired Associate General Counsel & Associate Director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

Terrence Finney

Retired Superior Court Judge, State of California

Lawrence T. Geraty

President Emeritus, La Sierra University

Tim Mitchell

Senior Pastor, Pacific Union College Church

Lourdes Morales-Gudmundsson

Chair of World Languages Dept., La Sierra University

Some excepts from emails and Facebook comments:

Mark Ferrell, pastor of the Central San Francisco Church writes:

Just imagine if in a few months the same 4 judges said that a person marrying a 4 year old girl was legal, and so people put on the ballot a law to limit marriage only for adults over 18 years old. And a few people that really, really love children, and who have always loved children, and who even say that they were born that way, and no matter how hard they try they can’t love adults, but only cute little 3 and 4 year old children, say that you should vote no on the new marriage law, otherwise it’s a matter of religious liberty, would you do it? I should hope not. I would hope that you can tell the difference between laws that have a moral basis and those that have a religious basis.

Kim Leong writes in:

Welcome to the time of the end or the end of time. The Spirit of Prophecy says that:

a)”not one in twenty Adventists is ready for the return of Christ” and

b)”many a shining star (Adventist leader) will cease to exist”

No wonder Christ said, “REMEMBER LOT’S WIFE”. Do we remember? Don’t be shocked! Don’t be surprised. Study your Bible, SOP and pray.

EE writes:

May God forgive you for your ignorance or intentional hidden agenda! You are misusing the name Seventh-day Adventist. How can you support this evil scheme? I don’t believe we can fix the evil of this world, but we Christians should not be confused with of what God’s will is. Vote “YES” to

protect the moral rights of the majority, instead of supporting the evil desires of a corrupted minority.

I, for one, am appalled at the position you have all taken. This proposition in no way takes away civil liberties. Since when do we call intent to break the law, and particularly God’s clear direction, a right and civil liberty

I am the Sr. Pastor of a church of over 1,000 members in Napa, CA and I will be strongly encouraging my church to support Propositions 8 and 4.

Marvin Wray

Sr. Pastor

Napa Community SDA Church

But on the other hand there is this:

As a gay man who just married his partner of 16 years, I truly appreciate your stand against Prop 8. I was amazed at your opposition to it and especially at your defense of diverse groups even if you don’t agree with them. This is one of the finest examples of true Americanism and true Christianity I have witnessed. Thank you again for taking a stand against bigotry and discrimination.

I am a Unitarian Universalist, and as such also opposed to Prop 8. Though I wouldn’t be a convert, I would like to know more about your beliefs. Can you direct me to a website?


John R.

Ventura, CA

Dan writes:

It is such a relief to see a religious group acknowledging the separation of church and state. We could all get along much better if more churches followed your reasoning. Prop 8 is not about homosexuals or marriage, it is an intent of imposition of religious dogma onto a political region (CA).

Here’s a note from the Facebook site:

A Adventist youngster in the Inland Empire writes:


I got the “Adventist’s for prop 8” email just like many of you. I REALLY have a hard time believing that anyone in my own faith wrote this stuff.

I just keep telling myself that its not the church, it’s just people… like us who just have a different opinion.

I still can’t believe it though…

From Facebook another young California Adventist writes:

Thank you so much to those who are organizing this cause. It’s very exciting that a group of Christians advocate for the rights of others. Adventists may not agree with homosexuality, but since when have Adventists been in the business of denying rights to others, so long as we want our religious liberties respected??

Oh, and the polls. . .

The Field Poll just released its number this evening:

No on Prop 8 = 49

Yes on Prop 8 = 45

Click here to see a detailed timeline of Adventist involvement in this issue.

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