CHARLOTTE, N.C.—On the eve of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) at Charlotte's Time Warner Cable Arena, visiting pastor Fernando Cabrera preached a fiery Sunday morning sermon at the conservative First Baptist Church in the heart of downtown.
The Liberty University graduate and New York City minister decried President Barack Obama's support for "gay marriage," and the Democratic Party's plan to add same-sex "marriage" to its platform.
Cabrera spoke of the erosion of traditional marriage and warned that "darkness has come upon our land."
He congratulated the Southern Baptist congregation on its success in helping to pass a North Carolina constitutional amendment prohibiting gay "marriage" in the state.
Cabrera also talked about what he'll be doing this week in Charlotte: serving as a Democratic delegate to the DNC.
The New York City councilman and pastor of New Life Church in the Bronx said that being a social conservative in a party that supports legalized abortion and gay "marriage" isn't easy. His goal at the DNC this week: "To make as much noise as possible—New York-style."
Cabrera has made noise in the past. When New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg supported the city's efforts to bar churches from renting space from public schools for worship services, Cabrera led the fight to overturn the decision. Police officers arrested him and others during a peaceful prayer protest.
On Sunday, he urged the Charlotte congregation to "vote their values," adding that a vote is a serious commitment: "When you put someone into office, you are making a covenant with that elected official."
In the lobby after the service, Cabrera answered an obvious question: If you disagree so strongly with Democrats on such fundamental issues, why stay in the party? Cabrera said that he's socially conservative but fiscally progressive, and believes Democrats serve the poor well.
He also sees himself as a reformer: "I feel like I'm there to lend voice to the other members of the party who are concerned about the direction it's going." On gay "marriage," Cabrera said he believes most voters—including Democrats—don't support the idea. Thirty-one states have banned gay "marriage." North Carolina passed a marriage amendment in May with 61 percent of the vote.
Still, Obama endorsed gay "marriage" the day after North Carolina's amendment passed, and the party moved to add support for the idea to its platform.
That leads to another obvious question: If voters or delegates are making a covenant with their elected officials, what are the implications of making covenant with Obama when it comes to social issues?
"Well, this is a point of frustration and a point of contention that many people who are in my position are feeling right now," said Cabrera. "And to be honest with you, it's a struggle that I'm trying to resolve."
When it comes to making noise this week, Cabrera said he plans to talk with other delegates who oppose adding gay "marriage" to the platform, and that he'll voice his concerns to the media.
He'll face an uphill battle: DNC schedules show a bevy of official and unofficial events promoting a gay agenda, and convention-goers were already walking the streets of Charlotte on Sunday afternoon with T-shirts declaring: "LGTB for Obama."