An anti-gay North Carolina activist pastor is working to get churches to fly the Christian flag over the U.S. flag to protest same-sex marriage.
Pastor Rit Varriale is a long-time anti-gay activist. In addition to running the Elizabeth Baptist Church in Shelby, North Carolina, he runs God Before Government, a group he created to further his cause of flying the Christian flag above the American flag, to protest same-sex marriage and the government's support of the rights of LGBT people.
In 2012 Varriale delivered a "Prayer for the North Carolina General Assembly." Speaking before the state senate, Pastor Varriale announced, "silence is no longer an option for the 21st century Church," and told them "issues of constitutionality and human rights should be adjudicated by public consensus" - meaning, North Carolina voters should decide same-sex marriage.
"Following the Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling," The Blaze reports, Varriale said "that he believes gays and lesbians have been more willing to fight for their cause than Christians have."
"The reality is, they have been willing to sacrifice more and be more bold for their cause than the church of Jesus Christ for serving God, and that's got to change," he said.
On Sunday, as the pastor explained in a YouTube video, he had installed a flag pole at his church for the sole purpose of flying the Christian flag over the American flag, protesting the Supreme Court's ruling on marriage equality.
"A message to the Supreme Court," he says in the video. "You've tried to tell us that you will coerce us to violate our religious convictions? No, I don't think so. We will obey God before we obey anything else."
But in an appearance on Fox News "Fox & Friends" today, surprisingly, he didn't get the warmest welcome.
Varriale has been interviewed by local North Carolina news media, and this morning appeared on Fox & Friends, but managed to downplay his fight against same-sex marriage.
Yesterday he was interviewed by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, and the Baptist Press.
"Varriale is among an increasing number of pastors who believe government is trying to coerce Christians to live in ways that violate Scripture," Baptist Press reports.
"They use different justifications for it, like anti-discrimination laws," Varriale said. "Christians are being coerced to serve the government before they serve God. That is something we can't stand for."
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