while the black church disapproves of homosexuality, and takes any opportunity to give it to the congregation straight (pardon the pun), i always thought that it was the epitome of ironic that so many members of the church that heard these anti-gay sermons time and again were as gay as an all-white liberace picnic. but that's me. the truth is, homosexuality is percieved of by the church as a lifestyle choice, not something that's in anyone's genetic makeup. there are plenty of ministries out there for anyone that would like to change but let's face it: coming out and admitting that you're gay is hard to do amongst black folk because, in spite of the fact that homosexuality is just one of many sins that the Bible mentions, it is THE sin as far as traditionalists/fundamentalists are concerned. so everyone stays closeted, or at least on the DL.
you want to talk about closeted? what about the pedophiles? i'd love to see someone do something about the priests and pastors and ministers and youth leaders that habitually molest children -- and for some reason, get rehired or get assigned to another parish or worse yet, go unprosecuted. but i digress.
instead of opting for a gay congregation, many black homosexuals insist on attending that traditional black church. and i think that's completely understandable. a bigger part of our culture and our identity as african-americans is wrapped up inside of those traditions, and many of us would hardly want to lose touch with them. so those who are black and gay keep tithing, they keep giving offerings. they keep singing in the choir and shouting in the amen corner. and yes, everyone knows who they are. and yes, no one says anything.
so imagine my surprise when i read about this sister who decides to "out" over 100 homosexuals in the collective choirs of her church via e-mails to the pastor -- one of the biggest black churches in DC. this started a chain reaction amongst those who were outed, so now the higher ups are getting called out. oh. my. goodness.
this is probably only the beginning of what could be a wave of traditional black church outings nationwide. imagine it: everyone outing every gay anybody. married men on the downlow, single men dating everybody, and everything in between. the orgies, the sex parties, the live-in lovers. this is pretty explosive stuff.
the real question is: once they're outed and everything's on the table, then what?
Outing campaign roils D.C. black Baptist church
More than 100 members named as gay in e-mails to pastor, congregation
By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | Jan 30, 2:14 PM
The outings added to the inner turmoil experienced by a large number of gays who attend services at the 7,000-member Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church, located on Rhode Island Ave., N.E., according to a gay former member who provided copies of the e-mails to the Blade.
“I will be leaving the choir at the top of the year because 80 percent of the tenors are homosexuals and act more like a female in choir rehearsal than I do,” the church choir member said in one of her e-mails to Bishop Alfred Owens Jr., the church pastor.
The e-mail, sent in December, identifies about 45 fellow church members as gay. She sent a second e-mail to Owens on Jan. 2 identifying another 62 church members as gay.
“The following people I am asking you to monitor very closely and my prayer is that you will sit them down from their ministries,” she told Owens in the December e-mail. “Because they are ushering in the presence of sin, lies, a spirit of homosexuality and sexual spirits.”
She sent a copy of her e-mails to a Yahoo list group that goes to more than 300 church members, the gay former church member said.
The gay former church member redacted all of the names from the copies of the e-mails he sent to the Blade, including the name of the choir member who orchestrated the outings.
Officials with the National Black Justice Coalition, a Washington-based group that advocates for African-American gays, and the D.C. Coalition of Black Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Men & Women, said they have seen or spoken with people who have seen un-redacted copies of the e-mails.
“There’s no doubt that these e-mails included all those names and they were read by a lot of people,” said Brian Watson, president of the D.C. Coalition.
Owens and Greater Mount Calvary Associate Pastor T. Cedric Brown did not return calls seeking comment by press time.
Owens became the subject of media attention in April 2006 when he used the word “fag” in a sermon on Palm Sunday.
“It takes real men to confess Jesus as Lord and Savior,” Owens said in the sermon, which was recorded by the church. “I’m not talking about no faggot or no sissy,” he said. “Let the real men come down here and take a bow — all the real men. I’m talking about straight men … praise God that you’re straight.”
The church’s web site includes a listing of twice-monthly sessions of a ministry called “Breaking the Chains of Homosexuality,” which it says helps gays change their sexual orientation through counseling and prayer. Minister Dennis Sawyers, an expert in “ex-gay” ministries, is listed as the leader of the church’s efforts to counsel gays.
The former gay member of Greater Mount Calvary who provided copies of the outing e-mails to the Blade, has withheld his own name. He used the pen name “Jeff Hammer” in his own e-mail correspondence with the Blade.
He said Owens responded to the first e-mail by calling a meeting of all members of the church’s numerous singing groups. The groups include the Alfred Owens Chorale, the Sanctuary Choir, the Celebration Choir, Voices of Calvary and the Male Chorus, among other groups.
“He said he only wanted to help people who wanted help to not be gay and that he was willing to help anybody change from being gay,” the former church member said.
The former member quoted Owens as telling people attending the meeting, “The Bible says that wheat and tares grow together but there are too many tares. When the tares outnumber the wheat I got to do something.”
According to the former church member, Owens said, “I’m going to meet with all the people mentioned in the e-mail and use my discernment to figure out who needs to be monitored or sat down from what they do …”
“My name was not on the list in any of these e-mails, but I think it is horrible,” the former church member said. “We give, pay tithes, dues and whatever, and this is how we are treated,” he said. “This is discrimination, humiliation and just mean.”
Sylvia Rhue, director of the National Black Justice Coalition’s religious affairs program and a licensed clinical therapist with a doctorate in human sexuality, said she was troubled but not surprised to hear that a large number of gays continue to join and worship at a church like Greater Mount Calvary.
“We know that many of the gays that go there like the traditional setting of a church like that,” she said. “It tears at your soul. It has the potential of causing depression, drug use and other harmful effects.”
Rhue said the NBJC recently released a publication called “Guide To Welcoming Congregations in the African-American Tradition,” which offers suggestions on how traditional black churches can be open and supportive of gays while remaining faithful to biblical teachings.
Watson of the D.C. Coalition said he knows a number of gays who remain members of Greater Mount Calvary, something Watson said he finds difficult to understand. As someone one who was raised in a church-going family in Oklahoma City, Watson said he attended services at Greater Mount Calvary when he moved to D.C.
“I did not join because the views there are clearly homophobic,” he said. “But it seems to be one of the more popular churches among black gays … I don’t know why these people keep going back there.”
Rick Rosendall, a spokesperson for the D.C. Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance, said he, too, was troubled over why so many gays would continue to attend and support a church that is less than welcoming to them.
“Our city has several welcoming and affirming congregations,” he said. “In the end, there is little that can be done for people who utterly refuse to respect themselves enough to stand up for themselves. If this particular incident wakes up some people and causes them to reevaluate their association with anti-gay churches and ministers, that could be the start of a salutary movement.”
The choir member who initiated the outing campaign at Greater Mount Calvary introduced herself to Bishop Owens as a deeply concerned member of the church.
“I am a female who has been a member of the Alfred A. Owens Chorale over five years,” she wrote in the first e-mail. “I have many friends in all of the choirs. However, people talk in my choir and I have overheard so many conversations, and pictures tell no lie.”
She added, “90.9 percent of the tenors in Sanctuary choir are homosexual. 99.9 percent of all the tenors in Celebration Choir are homosexual, including xxxxxx, but he is very undercover, aka, down low with his sex life.”
After naming more than a dozen men she claims are gay, she pointed to someone else she said was gay who “serves on the ushers board” and who “is always at gay parties drinking and drugging and is currently living with his boyfriend, Deacon xxxxx.”
She said another choir member “visits the gay clubs in the area weekly, i.e., the Bachelors Mill, the Delta, the Fireplace and Halo. He also attends private sex parties that male members of your choirs are having at their homes and
The gay former church member who sent the outing e-mails to the Blade also sent a copy of a separate e-mail from an outraged gay church member who was among those named in the first two e-mails as gay.
“I do not believe that someone would [have] the nerve to put my name to a list of known gays,” he wrote in an e-mail sent to Owens and members of the church Yahoo group. “This has gone too far, I am not going down by myself.”
He went on to name other gays, including some in high-level church positions.
“It is so bad that in the last e-mail we are turning on each other,” the gay former church member, who sent copies of the e-mails to the Blade, said. “Although I wanted to remain anonymous, someone has to do something.”
Leaders of two of D.C.’s largest gay churches, acting Pastor Mark Byrd of Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, and Bishop Kwabena Rainey Cheeks of Inner Light Ministries, did not respond to requests for comment on the Greater Mount Calvary outings by press time.