The battle over same sex marriage has shifted from the floor of the Maryland State House to the religious airwaves with pastors from two large congregations waging a war of words.

Maryland Governor Martin O' Malley speaking before a joint bill committee hearing on same-sex marriage bills on February 10, 2012 in Annapolis, Md. (Mark Gail/THE WASHINGTON POST)

His position puts him at odds with many in the clergy.

One of them, Coates said, referred to him as a “punk.”

The Rev. Ralph A. Martino, pastor of First Church of Christ Holiness, does not deny using the word but said he was not referring to Coates. Martino has a regular Sunday morning broadcast on Praise 104 FM. Coates said he was alerted to the comments by memders who listened to the show. Some of them were in tears. Coates has requested a transcript of the show but has not received it.

“I didn’t call him a punk,” Martino said. “I just think that he is misguided brother. He is a friend. I love him, but he is just misguided. This whole thing started when Governor O’ Malley’s wife called Christians cowards and what I said was true believers of Jesus Christ are not punks. The kingdom of God is supposed to regulate those who are in the kingdom. Same sex marriage is a violation of God’s  purpose for marriage between one man and one woman.”

Coates said it’s dangerous to allow public policy to be influenced by theology or religious doctrine.

“History bears this out,” Coates said. “Slavery, segregation, opposition to interracial marriage, and the list goes on were all justified by someone's theological presuppositons and religious doctrine.”

On Sunday, Coates plans to have extra security outside of his church because his switchboard has been overwhelmed with calls and a group of religious leaders are scheduled to stage a protest there.

 But other church leaders, including the Rev. Nathaniel Thomas, of Redeemer Baptist Church of Forestville, said it is wrong to protest another pastor’s church on Sunday morning.

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