Charlotte pastor: ‘I don’t care about your pain’

The Charlotte Observer today published a front-pager on the new book edited by Mitchell Gold, featuring 40 stories of gay and lesbian people’s ordeals growing up gay in America and their experiences in the church.

“CRISIS: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay in America,” to which I contributed a chapter (excerpted at The Charlotte Observer‘s website, mind you) “includes stories from actor Richard Chamberlain and U.S. Rep. Barney Frank as well as area contributors – Charlotte’s Matt Comer, editor of Q-Notes; Hickory’s Brent Childers, a straight evangelical Christian who has renounced his anti-gay views; and Myers Park Baptist Church Minister Stephen Shoemaker, whose church was booted from the Baptist State Convention for welcoming homosexuals.”

Writer and Reading Life Editor Pam Kelley spoke to the Rev. Mark Harris of Charlotte’s First Baptist Church regarding the book:

A new poll finds Americans split on homosexuality, with 48 percent believing it’s a sin, while 45 percent do not.

Charlotte’s First Baptist Church Minister Mark Harris, who believes it is a sin, doubts conservative Christians will buy Gold’s arguments.

While many contributors to Gold’s book describe knowing they were gay from a young age, Harris and others argue homosexuality is a choice, and the Bible says it’s an abomination before God.

“I just don’t buy that it’s a natural inclination,” he says.

Still, Harris says he’d welcome anyone featured in the book to worship at his church. “We love the person caught in the sin of homosexuality. It’s the sin we hate.”

Gold, however, remains optimistic.

“Where I live,” he says, “so many people say to me privately, ‘I don’t know what to believe.’ We think there’s a big crack in the wall.”

He plans to donate 1,000 books to churches to reach people with anti-gay views. “One thing I know: These are good people…. They don’t realize the harm they’re causing.”

Harris says he’d pass up any free books. “I would most likely not become a distributor of that philosophy.”

It saddens me that Pastor Harris is unwilling to listen to the voices of gay Christians who have been turned away from the church and left with life-long scars from the abuse they experienced there — people like me. I’m not too terribly surprised by his position though; after all, it is Harris who is closely affiliated with the radical Coalition of Conscience (which is, in turn, closely affiliated with the extremist street-preaching protest group Operation Save America — a group not too far off from being a bona fide hate group).

Harris thinks being gay is a choice. How does he know? Has he walked my path? Has he put on the shoes of the 39 other contibutors to the book?

Harris says he doesn’t want to “become a distributor of that philosophy.” What “philosophy” is he talking about? All I’m pushing, and all Mitchell Gold and the other contibutors are pushing, is understanding. Just listen to us. Hear our stories. Feel our pain. Take up your responsibility and obligation as a spiritual leader and hear the voices of God’s people.

Alas… Harris doesn’t want to hear any of us.

“Back into the closet,” he exclaims. “I don’t care about your pain.”

Well… I guess that’s better than preaching all queers should die.

6 Responses to “Charlotte pastor: ‘I don’t care about your pain’”
  1. Raine says:

    I read the Observer article yesterday morning and even posted a comment. The piece was on the home page of their web site until about 9 AM when they moved it to their “Books” page under Entertainment. In moving the piece they also deleted my comment.

    How dare I state that I could not wait to read the book. That my parents, unlke Mary Lou Wallner, did not reject me and could not understand why a parent would reject their child. Like my Mom said “You’re still my daughter.” How dare I mention that when I was 46 my parents finally told me they were proud of me and that my work in the LGBT community was the reason…

    How dare I not flame or condemn those who are against us…cause controversy which is the lifeblood of the Observer…

    Oh, they’ll have some flimsy excuse for their actions but to me it is censorship. I did not post a response because I like to see myself in print or because I am promoting some insidious agenda or even because I am recruiting. I posted to give hope and to show that not all parents reject their children.

  2. juanito says:

    One of my friends has a father who used to preach in college in Waco, TX. My friend is gay and has been out to his father (and late mother) since he was a teenager. His parents never rejected him and enjoys the company of his friends. When I took Eugene to meet my parents, I was a bit nervous. However, they brought him in as another son…and son-in-law. Eugene’s mom, who is visiting from Russia, has done the same with me.

    Now, as a Mormon, I am always dismayed that our corporate church does the same as Harris. They, too, treat gay children as outcasts. I am pleased to know, though, that not all Mormon familes follow church direction. Maybe Harris ought to grow up.

  3. Adam says:

    Wow, I just got back into town and grabbed a copy of Crisis at the ofice and looked it over this week. I think all of the stories in it are wonderful and moving – including yours. Great work! I think it will be especially helpful to people who might not have any idea the intolerance GLBT people face. Cheers!

  4. Matt says:

    Unfortunately Adam, if they are like Mark Harris and refuse to listen to the voices of their fellow Christians, the book won’t help.

  5. Radar says:

    “We love the person caught in the sin of homosexuality. It’s the sin we hate.” – Harris.

    This statement clarifies from Harris that he (and many others like him) totally missed the point of the book. I recall reading that “hate the sin, not the sinner” was compared with “separate but equal” in Crisis. Obviously, Harris overlooked that rather important passage and chose instead to keep blindly preaching hate.

    It’s so… stupid. Not wanting to hear from the LGBTs of America sounds so much like “we do not negotiate with terrorists”. How the hell am I supposed to be expected to treat Harris and his people with respect when they say things like that?

  6. Jordan says:

    This whole article just shows you don’t read into fact and just assume a single sentence in a page worth of words is exactly what it means. Mark Harris first of doesnt reject gays at his church. It’s by far the opposite. “Gay Christians” in a sense is hard to talk about because the bible specifically says its very wrong and is a abomination. If you have to post a story about this, at least make it accurate. Mark Harris is preaching what the bible says, so to spit your extremely inaccurate article out must mean your in a sign of desperation. Just get the facts straight.

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