A small Tampa, Florida church canceled a funeral because the man who was to be buried was gay. It took less than one day for them to be flooded with hundreds of negative reviews.
Americans were shocked and stunned this morning when they read -- here at The New Civil Rights Movement, at Bilerico, the Huffington Post, even Gawker, and other LGBT and progressive news sites -- that a Florida pastor actually canceled the funeral of a 42-year old man because he was gay.
Worse, the church called the man's mother the day of the wake -- she was standing at her son's coffin when the phone rang -- to tell her that she had less than 24 hours to find another place to hold the funeral. The pastor told local news reporters that they made the call after parishioners read in the newspaper that Julie Atwood's son, Julion Evans, was married to Kendall Capers -- a man.
"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," Pastor Jenkins told reporters.
The church, New Hope Missionary Baptist, took down most of their website, including their contact information.
Meanwhile, those who felt anger and outrage took to social media to express themselves.
On Twitter, even at 10 PM Friday night, several angry tweets per minute were still flowing.
On Facebook, aside from flooding news feeds, the vocally outraged dug up the church's Facebook page -- it does not appear on their website -- and left literally hundreds of scathing reviews and comments.
"Right-wing Christians like these kinds of 'Christians' claim there's a war on Christians in this country. There isn't a so-called war, but if there were it would be because of actions exhibited by these kinds of churches."
"Well, you are a shining example of why I no longer believe in God...if a loving God existed, He would not allow people like you to use His name to harm others."
"In Timothy 2:8 we read: 'I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array.' Which is why you also don't allow funeral arrangements for women with braided hear or who wear jewelry. Am I right?"
"The pastor of this church isn't standing on principles he is standing on judgment and bigotry. I ask him to contemplate and meditate on this question... Would Jesus approve of this? Would this be the actions of the Savior? I think you need to bow in front of the Lord and pray... pray for true guidance from Jesus. This family chose this church for a reason so where is the compassion of community? If I were a member of this congregation I would find a new church."
"Jesus would have conducted the service and provided comfort to the family and the husband in their time of grief. I am not a Christian, but you have to walk the talk. I am reminded of the time that Jesus came across a group of people who were stoning a prostitute, Jesus said - he who hath cast no sin shall cast the first stone and the crowd slunk away. As a man of god you may be close to sinless - until this decision."
"And this is the cancer within your religion. You teach only hate. And praise yourself for doing so."
"I think you may have forgotten Matthew 24:40. When did Jesus EVER turn his back on someone in need? The way you treated that bereaved family, you treated Jesus himself."
"Someone in your congregation just wrote back to me, 'Compassion has nothing to do with biblical principles.' Wow. Well, turning your back on a man's funeral is certainly a great example of that, now, isn't it?"
"I am deeply saddened to see God's message to the world distorted in this way. Dear, dear Pastor Jenkins...We look to you to teach us of God's love, mercy, and compassion, not complete and shameful intolerance. Even if your church does preach against a gay lifestyle, is there no place in your heart for God's mercy, forgiveness, and compassion? Do you refuse to conduct funeral services for people who break other of what you understand to be God's laws and rules? Really? Do you really do that? Refuse funeral services for those you know to be what you consider sinners? Would that not include everyone in your congregation who is not perfect in God's eyes?
"I am so saddened by this; so saddened to see God utterly misrepresented in this way."
"Shame on you for cancelling that young gay man's funeral. I'm sure God would be so proud of you for being so judgemental. And organized religion wonders why so many people are slipping away?"