Gay man says Baptist-run shelter kicked him out of rehab program for attending Cathedral of Hope
A local gay man says he was kicked out of a drug rehabilitation program at North Texas’ largest homeless shelter for attending the Cathedral of Hope.
Bradley Duke, 22, said he’d been a resident of Dallas Life Foundation’s New Life Program for more than nine months and was set to graduate April 22.
On April 2, Duke said he was summoned to the program director’s office to discuss the fact that he was attending the Cathedral, a predominantly LGBT congregation that is part of the United Church of Christ denomination. Dallas Life Foundation, on Cadiz Street downtown, is an independent nonprofit that’s affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.
Duke said the program director asked whether he was gay and accused the Cathedral of doing "the devil’s work" and teaching "false doctrines." Duke said he declined to reveal his sexual orientation and was given three days to leave the shelter.
"I’m kind of hurt that I didn’t have the same opportunity that everyone else had to finish the program simply because I’m a homosexual and I’m going to a church that supports that," said Duke, who’s now staying with friends from the Cathedral. "I’m just trying to get the word out that that place isn’t as loving and accepting as they try to make themselves seem."
The director of the New Life Program, Hurel Booker, acknowledged talking with Duke about the Cathedral. But Booker denied Duke was kicked out for attending the church.
"The reason he was kicked out was because he did not finish his paperwork in the required manner," Booker said. "We also counseled him and questioned him about the church that he was attending. We are a Christian-based program. We don’t teach our people to go to an all-gay-and-lesbian church. That’s not part of our teaching."
Booker referred additional questions to the Rev. Bob Sweeney, executive director of Dallas Life Foundation.
Sweeney also said Duke was kicked out for not completing assigned work, which he said is not uncommon. As part of the New Life Program, residents must attend courses on everything from anger management to job readiness, Sweeney said.
"There’s a myriad of classes that they commit to, and they sign an agreement that they will do those things," he said.
Duke denied that he failed to complete any work and said he was a model student in the New Life Program.
"I did everything the program called for me to do," he said.
Sweeney said although Dallas Life Foundation prohibits residents from engaging in homosexual behavior, there are openly gay people at the shelter, which can house up to 500.
"We don’t turn people away because of homosexuality," he said.
But Sweeney added that someone in the New Life Program likely would be "challenged" for attending the Cathedral of Hope.
"If someone goes to a Satanist church, obviously we’re going to challenge them on that," Sweeney said. "If someone goes to a church that teaches against what we believe the Scripture to share, we’re not going to accept it."
The Rev. Jo Hudson, senior pastor at the Cathedral, said she respects the right of private organizations to make such decisions. But Hudson said she thinks it’s unfortunate that basic needs would be overlooked because of someone’s sexual orientation.
"We would argue that he is still a child of God with human needs to be safe and have food to eat," Hudson said.
"Can you set aside the theological differences and arguments and see this person as a human being who has some significant needs that need to be met?"
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 11, 2008.