Another day in the culture wars yields this ugliness:
Church Cancels Memorial for Gay Navy Vet
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — A megachurch canceled a memorial service for a Navy veteran 24 hours before it was to start because the deceased was gay.
Officials at the nondenominational High Point Church knew that Cecil Howard Sinclair was gay when they offered to host his service, said his sister, Kathleen Wright. But after his obituary listed his life partner as one of his survivors, she said, it was called off.
"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,’" she said Friday.
Wright said High Point offered to hold the service for Sinclair because their brother is a janitor there. Sinclair, who served in the first Gulf War, died Monday at age 46 from an infection after surgery to prepare him for a heart transplant.
The church’s pastor, the Rev. Gary Simons, said no one knew Sinclair, who was not a church member, was gay until the day before the Thursday service, when staff members putting together his video tribute saw pictures of men "engaging in clear affection, kissing and embracing."
Simons said the church believes homosexuality is a sin, and it would have appeared to endorse that lifestyle if the service had been held there.
"We did decline to host the service – not based on hatred, not based on discrimination, but based on principle," Simons told The Associated Press. "Had we known it on the day they first spoke about it – yes, we would have declined then. It’s not that we didn’t love the family."
Simons said the decision had nothing to do with the obituary. He said the church offered to pay for another site for the service, made the video and provided food for more than 100 relatives and friends.
"Even though we could not condone that lifestyle, we went above and beyond for the family through many acts of love and kindness," Simons said.
Wright called the church’s claim about the pictures "a bold-faced lie." She said she provided numerous family pictures of Sinclair, including some with his partner, but said none showed men kissing or hugging.
Would the church have refused to bury people who are liars, blasphemers, and/or adulterers? Would they have even asked?!? I seriously doubt it. Because the whole point of holding a service isn’t to judge their life (or their lifestyles) or to place a stamp of endorsement or condemnation on their choices. After all, aren’t we all sinners?
The partner of the deceased writes his views here.
To me personally, I have no problem with the church turning us away. My problem is with the method in which they did it. I happen to know several other members of that church who are also gay, and they had no idea that their church held that opinion on this topic either. If they had told us right away, or even on Tuesday that they were not comfortable with the service, we would have been more than willing to try and come to some sort of compromise, or we could have changed venues. We were never given that option. Someone in a position of power made the decision to cut us off, and didn’t even have the moral courage to tell us the truth to our faces.
I fully understand the church’s right to deny us the use of their facilities. I also served in the military, (US Army, 1987-2002), and I have fought to defend their freedom of religion and freedom of choice.
He’s a better man that I, Gunga Din. I would be livid.