The late Julion Evans (left) and his husband, Kendall Capers
An American Baptist church in Florida is facing a backlash after it cancelled a man’s funeral at the last minute when it discovered he was gay.
Pastor T.W. Jenkins of the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church phoned Julion Evans’ mother Julie Atwood while she was at her son’s wake to tell her the news the day before the service was to have taken place.
Jenkins reportedly said it would be “blasphemous” to have the service at his church. He apparently only discovered Evans was gay when he read his obituary in the local newspaper,
The obituary stated that Evans had left behind his husband and partner of 17 years, Kendall Capers. Evans, 42, passed away from a rare disease called Amyloidosis.
“It was devastating,” the grieving mother told WFLA. “I did feel like he was being denied the dignity of death.”
Said Capers of his husband: “Everyone who knew us knew about our relationship. We didn’t keep secrets.”
Jenkins explained that, “Based on our preaching of the scripture, we would have been in error to allow the service in our church.”
He went on to say: “I’m not trying to condemn anyone’s lifestyle, but at the same time, I am a man of God, and I have to stand up for my principles.”
The news was met with outrage on social media, which responded with a campaign slating the church on its Facebook page.
Said one commentator: “Christian = Christ like; There is nothing Christ like about what this Church just did. I am appalled that this should occur in a place were the compassion of Christ should be seen most. Shame on this place!”
The church has since taken the page and its website down.
America’s Human Rights Campaign (HRC) slammed the pastor’s appalling behaviour.
“As someone who ministered a congregation and has counselled families after a tragic loss, the actions of this pastor seem nothing short of spiritual violence,” commented Rev. MacArthur Flourney, HRC’s Director of Faith Partnerships and Mobilization.
“Scripture teaches us that above all else we should love God and neighbour. There is nothing loving in the behaviour of this pastor,” he added.