Mega-Christian Mega-hate update

Following up on the story of the mega-church that refused to bury Cecil Sinclair, a war veteran, because he was gay, here’s the mega-pastor’s explanation:

The pastor said that he could imagine a similar situation involving a different sin. Perhaps a mother who is a member of the church loses a son who is a thief or murderer, Mr. Simons said. The church would surely volunteer to hold a service, he said.

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

The best he could do to show that he’s not a bigot is to compare a veteran who risked his life for his country, and who fell in love with another man, to a thief and a murderer? If this is his idea of not being bigoted, I’d hate to hear what he has to say when he goes all out hating on people.

Gary Simons, homophobic pastor
Smile and smile and be a villain

Ray Simons is of that brand of smarmy young pastors who appeal to their followers by being hip and handsome (actually, I think he looks a bit creepy, but I’m sure that plastic look is appealing to his flock) and on the surface as different from the old fire-and-brimstone ministers of the past. But don’t be fooled. Scratch below the air-brushing and the veneered smile, and you’ll find a soul as ugly as any other hate monger’s.

Are they not even claiming to “hate the sin, love the sinner” anymore? If this was really about thinking homosexuality is a sin and not about hate and bigotry, wouldn’t they have responded to Cecil Sinclair the way Jesus responded to the woman who had committed adultery? With love? Instead, Ray Simons is the very model of a modern major pharisee.

Someone who says he’s Cecil Sinclair’s partner, Paul Wagner, wrote in to Jim at Box Turtle Bulletin and to the Dallas Morning News, with more details of what happened. It’s a sad story.

But Ray Simons can keep on smiling. He has a congregation of thousands each giving him 10% of what they own. That’s quite a racket. Although if I were Pastor Ray and believed in the unerring truth of the Bible as he claims to, I might worry less about Leviticus 18:22 and more about Matthew 19:24: “And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

I wonder how many members of High Point Church drove to church this morning in SUVs with “support our troops” magnets slapped on the back, while their pastor turned away the grieving family of a soldier. I wonder how many of them will begin to wonder if Pastor Ray really does “Got Jesus?”

15 Comments

  1. jonolan said,

    August 12, 2007 at 10:28 am

    You’re not going to like this – in fact, I’d be willing to bet you’ll delete this comment – but there’s nothing wrong with what this preist and his sect did. They’re well within their rights not to hold funeral services for “unpentent sinners who have committed grave sins”.

    I don’t subscribe to their views, but villifying them for exercising their constitutional rights as a private enterprise is just as heinous as their villifying Mr. Sinclair – and I assume yourself – for your sexual orientation / preference.

    You do realize the the Catholic church won’t hold services for- or allow al suicide to be burried in a Catholic cemetary – for the same reason, “unforgivable sin”.

  2. Gina said,

    August 12, 2007 at 10:42 am

    I don’t delete comments because, unlike our President, I believe in letting voices of dissent be heard. I even learn from them.

    I agree that Ray Simons and his church have the right to admit or bury whoever they want. I do not deny that. I celebrate the freedom of religion in this country.

    But I do call them out for acting in a completely un-Christlike manner. Jesus didn’t hate and exclude “sinners”–He broke bread with them.

    I support their constitutional rights, but that doesn’t mean I can’t call it hypocrisy when they falsely claim to be doing what Jesus would do.

    The constitution protects this church’s rights. I’m glad that it does. However, freedom of religion does not mean no one can be critical of them. It means the state can’t interfere with their religious practice. I’m not the state, and I have no power to make them do anything. All I have is the power any citizen of this country has: to speak up to what I believe. That’s my right and my duty.

  3. Martin Lanigan said,

    August 12, 2007 at 10:43 am

    jonolan,

    There is a big difference between having a legal right to do something, and the propriety of the act in question. I think few people are questioning this church’s legal rights, and many are calling into question the morality of their actions. They are legally entitled to their views and their actions, and we are all perfectly entitled to criticize and question both. No religion, no sect, no church is above question or challenge.

  4. Gina said,

    August 12, 2007 at 10:54 am

    Martin, you said that so well and so succinctly.

    In his post to Box Turtle Bulletin, Paul Wagner, Sinclair’s partner, makes the point:

    “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.”

  5. jonolan said,

    August 12, 2007 at 11:01 am

    Well, so much for any defense of the Pator’s behavior based on theology. If they gays in the congregation didn’t know they weren’t welcome, then the sect wasn’t preaching it’s doctrine / dogma.

    I’m a firm proponant of churches “attacking” sin and denouncing sinners – even when their pointing at me, but IMHO theology must be like copyright / trademrk law. If it’s not vigorously defended, you loose the right to it (sort of)

  6. Martin Lanigan said,

    August 12, 2007 at 11:29 am

    jonolan,

    Why must you, or anyone else, “attack” or “denounce” sinners – even if you are prepared to attack and denounce yourselves? If your god(s) are who they say they are, then this will all be sorted without any help from folks such as you. With all due respect, you and other believers may be wrong. Perhaps a bit of humility and a touch of humanity would be in order.

  7. jonolan said,

    August 12, 2007 at 11:57 am

    I’m actually not a believer, at least not as I think you mean the term. I am a “believer” in actively defending what is right from what is wrong. I do NOT believe in the current “Cult of Tolerence” that seems to say that everything anyone does is OK. IMO a person who does not stop a crime or a sin has committed one himself. That all must be taken within a context where we have a MANDATED seperation between secular law and theological ethics.

  8. Martin Lanigan said,

    August 12, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    Hmmm jonolan – you are introducing a lot of irrelevant material here.

    It has been pointed out to you that this case is not about what is legal, but rather, it is a case about what is right.

    I, and others, criticize the “rightness” of this church’s actions because we see prejudice and anti-gay sentiment at work. This prejudice is ugly, inexcusable and inconsistent with what many people (religious and otherwise) hold as the fair and decent treatment of a grieving family.

    I have no idea by what you mean when you say “Cult of Tolerance” (nor do I really care). If you see my genuine concern for Mr. Sinclair’s family as wrong, then you are no better than this church and its pastor. For the record, I do not believe it is a “sin” to be gay. Any theology that says so, I take great exception to and I will challenge it. This is my right as a free citizen.

    Please dispense with your self-justifying obcurantism and tell us precisely why this chuch is morally justified in its actions.

  9. Martin Lanigan said,

    August 13, 2007 at 10:32 am

    I believe jonolan’s agenda is showing.

    As I have long suspected, there are many anti-gay bigots who find their bigotry rationally indefensible. Their only recourse is to wrap such bigotry in the cloak of respectability that religion proivdes.

    jonolan says he/she is a non-believer, but cheers on those religious zealots who believe they have a duty to “attack” and “denounce” gays.

  10. jonolan said,

    August 13, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    Martin,

    Not exactly. I’m not in any way anti-gay. I’m anti-political correctness I guess. I don’t agree with the christian rights views, but I do agree with the idea of expressing those views. I also agree with you expressing yours.

    My original comments were related only to the method of dissenting with the pastor’s behavior; it seemed to me to be hypocritical to villify him while complaining of being villified by him.

    Have fun and think of me as you will.

  11. Martin Lanigan said,

    August 13, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    jonolan,

    I am pleased to read that you are not anti-gay. You will, however, forgive me for thinking otherwise after you wrote:

    “…there’s nothing wrong with what this preist and his sect did…” and when you wrote…”I’m a firm proponant of churches “attacking” sin and denouncing sinners – even when their pointing at me”.

    I think we all agree that High Point Church is legally entitled to withhold its services.

    I am, however, completely mystified as to why we may not villify High Point Church and its pastor for their words and their actions.

    Are you saying that churches may say or do anything they want just because they are churches?

    Is anyone who questions or challenges a church automatically guilty of being “politically correct” and therefore not entitled to criticize that church?

    I am confused.

  12. jonolan said,

    August 13, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    Nope, not what I meant to say at all! I was trying to say that complaining that people villify you and your constituents while villifying another group is hypocritical.

    As for this pastor and his church, I have already said he was indefensible by the only grounds under which I consider them defensible – church / organization / national doctrine because they hadn’t been denouncing the “sin” of homosexuality until they realized they might be “associated” with it.

    “Are you saying that churches may say or do anything they want just because they are churches?”

    No, they must adhere to the limits of secular law or willingly and without rancor accept the consequences of their actions. I wish more people would stand up for their ethics / morals. I have a hard time not defending those who do, even when I violently disagree with them.

    “Is anyone who questions or challenges a church automatically guilty of being “politically correct” and therefore not entitled to criticize that church? “

    No, I don’t believe that.

    Frankly, I’m still struggling with framing my actual beliefs concerning ethical behavior into rhetoric that makes sense to anyone but myself. Eloquence, beyond a well-turned quip doesn’t always come easily to me.

  13. Martin Lanigan said,

    August 13, 2007 at 3:59 pm

    Thanks for clarifying jonolan.

    Still don’t agree with you. Gina has eloquently explained her opposition to High Point and and its pastor. She sees this church’s actions as inconsistent with the tenants of christianity. Gina does pick on the good pastor’s looks, but hey…that is pretty mild compared to the bile that this man is reported to have spewed.

    By your logic, everyone who criticizes a hypocrite becomes a hypocrite. Just gonna have to agree to disagree here.

  14. Gina said,

    August 15, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    Maybe it was petty of me. I usually stay away from picking on people’s looks. Some may like to joke about Karl Rove’s or Ann Coulter’s physical appearance, but to me that distracts from the real things that are bad about them. In this case, however, Pastor Ray obviously has worked to present that image, and the glossy airbrushed appearance of his photo symbolized so well the glossy airbrushed facade hiding the true ugliness of his church.

  15. David said,

    February 2, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    You comparison of Ray Simmons is an insult to Pharisees. Pharisees are the theological talebearers of both extant Judaism and Christianity. There were many brands of Pharisaic thought, and Pharisaic thought gets a bad rap in the New Testament, but many Pharisees were forward thinking and sought to abandon the trappings of the old rules and customs of the temple religion.

    If anything, Simmons is more like a Sadducee. Those people were total douchebags


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