In his Good Friday sermon, Bishop Alfred A. Owens Jr., pastor of Greater Mount Calvary Church in Northeast D.C., screamed that “it takes a real man to confess Jesus as Lord and Savior”. To punctuate the point, he clarified that he meant only straight men, “I’m not talking about no faggot or no sissy”. He then invited all the straight men to come down to the altar to thank God that they are straight, saying “You ain’t funny and you ain’t cranky, but you’re straight,” – a comment I am still pondering in confusion.
Bishop Owens has spent several years on DC Mayor Anthony Williams’ Interfaith Council. The council was formed to foster understanding and inclusion among people of different faiths and identities. By implying that gay people can not receive salvation from God, Owens is spreading the worst kind of bigotry and ignorance, certainly counter to the aims of the Interfaith Council. As such, many groups are calling for his removal. Mayor Williams is supposed to consider the matter upon his return from a trip to Africa on May 16.
We can agree that there are many people of faith that recognize that one can be both Christian and gay. The more important question here I think is, what is the proper response to such hateful comments in our society of open, free speech? This has always been a tricky subject but it’s increasingly important as well. What can be done to influence “hearts and minds” while preserving the rights of all involved?
Check out this Washington Blade article for more detail and a link to a recording of this part of the sermon.