wright TRUTH WINS OUT CONDEMNS MEGA CHURCH PASTOR FOR CANCELING MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR GAY VETERAN

(Kathleen Wright, left)

High Point Church Reached New Low Point On Basic Human Decency

NEW YORK — Truth Wins Out expressed outrage today over a Texas Church that reneged on a promise to hold a memorial service for a Navy veteran once it learned he was gay. High Point Church’ pastor, Rev. Gary Simons, should immediately resign for gross insensitivity of a family in mourning, substituting bad manners for good morals and a dereliction of duty for failing to provide basic pastoral care.

“This is not a church, but a “hate house’ that has elevated prejudice above principle and discrimination above basic human decency,” said Truth Wins Out’ Executive Director Wayne Besen. “The hellish treatment of a family in mourning by a supposed house of God is an abomination and we strongly urge pastor Simons to resign. These ugly actions are a glimpse of the unconscionable religion-based bigotry often faced by gay and lesbian people on a daily basis.” Cecil Howard Sinclair, 46, was a patriotic veteran who served in Desert Storm helping rescuers find downed pilots. He died this week from an infection after surgery to prepare him for a heart transplant.

His brother was a janitor at High Point Church, so the congregation offered to host his memorial service. However, the church broke its word after his obituary listed his life partner as one of his survivors.

“It’s a slap in the face. It’s like, ‘Oh, we’re sorry he died, but he’s gay so we can’t help you,’” Sinclair’ sister, Kathleen Wright, told the Associated Press.

Rev. Simons tried to justify his heartless behavior by saying that Sinclair’ family submitted photos for the memorial service that made it clear that he was gay. The pastor compared this to a hypothetical situation where a mother who is a church member lost a child who had stolen or committed murder.

“But I don’t think the mother would submit photos of her son murdering someone,” he said. “That’s a red light going off.”

“These ignorant comments are a new low point for High Point Church and a monument to the malignant homophobia that has infected many religious institutions,” said Besen.

Truth Wins Out pointed out that such fervent and malevolent rejection of gay people in some conservative churches is what drives many to so-called “ex-gay” ministries.

“When people grow up in churches that say you are so wicked that are not even worthy of dying with dignity it sends an unmistakable message,” said Truth Wins Out spokesperson Rev. Jerry Stephenson. “People who face such withering and soul crushing discrimination are desperate to change so they can be loved and accepted — and this is the undercurrent of shame that feeds clients directly into the clutches of so-called ex-gay ministries.”

Today, Truth Wins Out specifically called on the ex-gay organization Exodus International, Focus on the Family, and the Southern Baptist Convention’ new ex-gay leader Bob Stith to issues statements criticizing the actions of High Point Church.

“These organizations talk a good game about “loving homosexuals’ and here is their chance to actually show some genuine compassion,” said Rev. Stephenson. “We look forward to seeing how they respond to this clear violation of integrity, morality and human decency. While we hold that churches have the right to engage in such despicable behavior, they also have the responsibility to show love and respect for all people and not kick them when they are down.”

Truth Wins OUT is a non-profit organization that counters right wing propaganda, exposes the “ex-gay” myth and educates America about gay life. For more information, visit www.TruthWinsOut.org.

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