Memphis’s city council is currently holding hearings on an inclusive non-discrimination ordinance which has strong support from the community. The first hearing went a bit like this, via Bianca Phillips at The Memphis Flyer:
The ordinance’s sponsor Janis Fullilove pleaded a passionate case for equal treatment of LGBT city workers, as well as employees working for companies contracting with the city. Fullilove called the need for equality at City Hall a “human issue,” and praised FedEx for taking the lead by adopting a similar policy protecting their workers. She also addressed the concerns of some conservative Christians that a non-discrimination ordinance would allow transgender people to use restrooms for the opposite sex.
“I know there are a lot of people with concerns about people going to the restroom. But how many times do you go into a restroom and look into the stall and ask, what are you? A man or a woman?” Fullilove said.
She continued: “If you had a daughter or son who was gay, would you not want them to be able to work and support themselves?”
Supporters of the ordinance literally sat across the room from opponents of LGBT protections (many of them wearing “one man, one woman” stickers as if the discussion were about gay marriage). Tennessee Equality Project’s Jonathan Cole, whose equality organization helped draft the ordinance, spoke on behalf of the ordinance’s supporters.
“Right now, it’s totally legal for the city or someone who contracts with the city to fire someone for being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender,” Cole said. Cole cited a few stories he’d heard about city employees being denied promotions and even fired after their employer learned their sexual orientation.
Following Cole, Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, spoke in opposition, but it seemed as though he didn’t fully understand the scope of the ordinance. Gaines talked as though he believed the ordinance would affect private businesses, but it actually only affects city workers and companies who contract with the city.
“What if a Christian childcare facility is forced to hire a man dressed like a woman?” Gaines asked.
Really, Bellevue Baptist Church pastor Steve Gaines? Because I’m finding it a little bit too cute by half to believe that Gaines’ utmost concern is for the welfare of children. Why? From StopBaptistPredators.org:
Pastor Steve Gaines knew that one of his staff ministers had sexually abused a kid years earlier. What did he do? He kept quiet. Not until 6 months later, when the news was broken in a blog was the congregation finally informed. It was a “church matter” said the pastor, and he gave a sermon on “grace” and redemption.
For anyone who thought clergy sex abuse was “just” a Catholic problem, Bellevue should be a wake-up call.
Minister Paul Williams reported for child molestation.
He commonly counseled molestation victims, who told him their personal and painful stories.
Pastor Steve Gaines knew for 6 months and kept quiet.
Pastor Gaines calls it a “moral failure” and justifies his silence because Williams said there was “no reoccurrence.”
Seminary president urges Pastor Gaines to resign. “If Steve Gaines found out that a child had been sexually molested by one of his ministers and if he did nothing to address it, then he needs to step down immediately,” Dr. Michael Spradlin, the president of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary said.
Deacon Michael R. Pruett urges church discipline, NOT for Pastor Gaines who kept the matter secret, but for those who brought this to light! “Where is love in all of this?” he asks. (Here’s the answer Deacon Pruett: Love resides in doing everything possible to protect the young against sexual abuse. That sort of love requires courageous truth-telling and transparency.)
Report shows that what pastor Gaines called a “moral failure” – and kept quiet about – was really minister Williams’ “egregious, perverse sexual activity with his adolescent son over a period of 12 to 18 months.”
Nice! Pastor Gaines apparently decided to play the “It’s not child rape if he sez he only raped the boy once!” card. It’s amazing (but strangely, not surprising) that the man the anti-gay side has chosen as a spokesperson is more concerned about hurting gay people than protecting the innocence of the children in his congregation.
Michelle Bliss was in the hearing when the pedophile-protecting Steve Gaines spoke, and, as a mother and as a citizen, she was outraged:
Dr. Gaines represented himself before the City Council as a moral authority, speaking for “people of faith.” That is outrageous. He has shown an egregious lack of respect for the members of his church, the members of this community, and the duty as a citizen under the law to report a crime. It is unfathomable that a person who has so blatantly circumvented the law in order to protect the reputation of his organization, with callous disregard for the health and safety of his church members and the community at large, should be representing the faith community in any capacity. Perhaps Dr. Gaines thinks the people of this community have forgotten about his so-called “moral failure”; I can assure him we have not. Dr. Steve Gaines did tell the truth about one thing at the Council meeting; he does NOT speak for all Christians. He does not speak with any moral authority at all. He speaks, as he has in the past, for his own twisted sense of morality, nothing more.
As in every other city, this is the quality of our opposition. They are far too consumed with their own irrational fear and hatred of LGBT people to see that, if anything, they are the ones who are truly a threat to our children and our families. They’re so concerned with the continuity of their bigoted, patriarchal, Iron Age narrative that they’re willing to shove anything under the rug to protect their image — even child rape!
But remember, kids: In their world, a child is better off being raised by a biological parent who happens to be a rapist than it is to be raised by a loving, healthy, happy, invested-in-every-way gay couple.
Because that’s what they think the Bible says.
If those are “Judeo-Christian” values, we’re better off without them.
Related: In case you forgot, this is the same church that pitched a wussy little hissy fit when they found out that a softball coach on their league, which they had opened to the public, was a big scary lesbian. It would have been fine if Steve Gaines or Paul Williams had been the coach though, because they’re good old fashioned White Heterosexual Christians, and are therefore Saved, and if Jesus forgets about their sins, then you should too. How dare you question the patriarchy?