SPIRITUALITY: Responding to Joey Faust and Kingdom Baptist Church

The Rev. Shelley Hamilton Contributing Columnist

Fort Worth gay Pride was visited by Pastor Joey Faust and members of his congregation, Kingdom Baptist Church.

Kingdom Baptist and Faust aren’t strangers to the LGBT community in Fort Worth. Most recently Faust and Roman Marroquin were arrested for interfering with public duties. How strange that people who claim to be followers of Christ use precious time and resources in such unproductive ways. After hearing about this incident I went to the Kingdom Baptist Church’s website. I read an overview of Pastor Faust’s life. I was unable to determine with whom he holds his professional credentials (ordination) or where he attended seminary. I read parts of his blog, a sermon and some vitriolic responses to those who disagree with him. He is more bizarre than we have come to expect from fundamentalists. He’s fixated on sin, especially what he considers the “sin” of homosexuality. Sadly, he doesn’t seem to like anyone. He’s suspicious, angry and hate filled. I’m sad for him and the people who follow him.

Early in my ministry with Metropolitan Community Churches, I encountered pastors like Joey Faust and their followers. I appeared on radio and TV programs with them and responded to their columns when they reviled queer people. I realized after a time that they wouldn’t be transformed by my — or anyone else’s — rebuttal of their declarations regarding the vileness of same-gender love. No amount of historical and archaeological evidence will calm the fears and anxieties of people who cling to spiritual communities led by men like Faust. Because I have spent a life time trying to help queer people heal from the toxic effects of such religion I feel particularly qualified to speak about what I consider the “ethos” of fundamentalist religious communities whether they be Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist or atheist.

Viewing the world through the narrow lens of one perspective is dangerous and rooted in rigid ignorance. Here’s the truth: No one knows who God is, what God thinks, did or does, where God is — or even if God is at all. My experience — primarily with fundamentalist Christians — helped me understand that religious rigidity in people and cultures frequently disguises deeply embedded fears, anxieties and an inability to live with ambivalence and uncertainty. All of us have difficulty accepting there are no ultimate answers to the great questions of life. Who are we? Where did we come from? Why are we here? Who is God? What is eternity? Personally, I’ve found freedom and peace by simply embracing the ambivalence and uncertainty of day-to-day life.

Religious communities such as Kingdom Baptist Church are often rooted in fear, hatred and anger. People who want absolutes seek spiritual and political leaders and communities who offer them what they want: answers to the mysteries of life. In relationship with other like-minded people their ability to filter the world through this narrow lens is strengthened and their denial mechanisms are fueled to perfection. They experience satisfaction and self-righteousness in their narrow convictions. I consider this bondage. It’s so powerful I doubt rationality or unconditional love will mend their cold, cold hearts.

Someone asked me recently: How should queer people respond to assaults like this? I remember in the early days of Metropolitan Community Churches when met with protests from churches like Kingdom Baptist we would surround them and sing hymns or show tunes, which admittedly caused distress. Sometimes we fell to our knees and prayed. However, the best counsel comes from Jesus and can be paraphrased as, “If you visit a town — or temple or neighborhood and people are un-welcoming and reject your words of love and grace — shake the dust from your feet … ” My brother says folks should do the right thing because it’s the right thing, not because they fear retribution from a God who’ll punish them if they don’t. We know who we are and who we love. We’re proud and grateful to be who we are. We’ve fought long and hard for our right to be; we will continue to do so. I say, grant them grace and keep praying for transformation.

The Rev. Shelley A. Hamilton is an ordained minister specializing in pastoral care services, spiritual direction and counseling for the LGBT community. She can be reached at 214-236-1224 or revsah44@yahoo.com.

—  John Wright

Kingdom Baptist member claims FWPD is violating group’s free speech rights

Kingdom Baptist Church’s Jeremy Beattie, right, is shown preaching in downtown Fort Worth last year.

After reporting yesterday that two members of Kingdom Baptist Church were arrested at Fort Worth’s gay Pride parade, I received an email from Kingdom Baptist member Jeremy Beattie, who disputed my statement that several members of the Johnson County church had also been arrested at the parade in 2011. Beattie claims only one member of Kingdom Baptist was arrested in 2011. I checked with Fort Worth police today to confirm the number of arrests last year, but have not yet received a response. My report yesterday was based on our story about the parade last year.

Not surprisingly, Beattie is also accusing Fort Worth police of violating the group’s first amendment rights.  Here’s an excerpt from his email:

“There was only one member arrested last year from Kingdom Baptist on a false charge of saying a certain curse word which ended up being dismissed in court. There was another person arrested who was no member nor even a protester but a news reporter of some sort that was upset about the unjust arrest and did have foul language. Also what some call harassing we would call warning and admonishing the people to repent. Though we may not agree on many issues I hope that you will strive to be honest and I would also hope that others would see that our nations 1st amendment is disappearing when people can not peacefully speak out against certain actions without experiencing opposition from local city police officers. We have never used inappropriate language, or become violent though I personally have witnessed such action and worse from people participating in these parades. Thank you for your time and acknowledgment of these issues.”

—  John Wright

UPDATE: 2 anti-gay protesters arrested at Fort Worth Pride parade

Anti-gay protesters, above and below, at Saturday’s gay Pride parade in Fort Worth.

Fort Worth police arrested two anti-gay protesters at Saturday’s gay Pride parade downtown. (Read our full story about the parade here.)

The arrested protesters are members of Kingdom Baptist Church in Johnson County, which has regularly staged anti-gay demonstrations in North Texas over the last few years.

Joey Faust, 46, and Ramon Marroquin, 33, were charged with interfering with public duties, a class-B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a maximum $2,000 fine. Faust is the pastor for Kingdom Baptist Church.

Joey Faust

According to a statement from Fort Worth police, officers encountered a group from Kingdom Baptist Church at about 12:50 p.m. The officers “maintained separation of the protesters from the parade participants to ensure public safety and to prevent a breach of the peace.”

Last year, several members of Kingdom Baptist Church were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for harassing parade attendees, and this year police announced they would increase their presence at the event.

A right-wing blog called The Trumpet Online was the first to report the arrests Saturday, under the headline, “Pastor Joey Faust Arrested at Sodomite Parade”:

These Christians stood at the entrance of the parade route rebuking floats and banners from corporations such as Lockheed Martin, and Chase Morgan, from bars such as Fort Worth’s infamous Rainbow Lounge, and it grieves me to say, from “Churches” blaspheming the name of God by walking in this mess. Once all the floats passed by, these Christians walked the parade route with banners of the Lord held high and preaching the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ alone. Approximately 2/3 along the route these Christians were met by approximately 12-15 police officers who allowed people to pass that were not with the preachers but stood in the way of the preachers. As preachers would attempt to walk around these officers, the officers would move to block the way. For causes not yet known to us, they chose to arrest Pastor Joey as well as brother Ramon. We have not ascertained what they have been charged with nor do we know when they will be released.

On a positive note, those who attended Fort Worth’s Pride parade included European LGBT rights activists who were visiting Texas on an international trip. The activists marched in the parade with the local group Students, Administrators, Volunteers, Educators Support, or S.A.V.E.S, to demonstrate solidarity with gays in Belgrade, Serbia, where gay Pride is banned. Check out a photo of the activists and read their full press release after the jump.

—  John Wright

Kingdom Baptist makes the news in Fort Worth

Queer LiberAction activist Rick Vanderslic, left, gets up close and personal with a member of Kingdom Baptist Church in a November 2009 protest outside Fort Worth City Hall

Folks in Fort Worth’s LGBT community are more than passingly familiar with Pastor Joey Faust and his congregants from Kingdom Baptist Church. Faust and his flock have been bringing their Bibles and their megaphones to every LGBT gathering in town since at least late 2009 when they showed up to protest outside City Hall as the City Council was inside voting to approve expanding the nondiscrimination ordinance to include protections for transgenders.

(Dallas Voice staff writer John Wright took the photo above during that protest as Kingdom Baptist member squared off against Queer LiberAction activist Rick Vanderslice.)

The Faustian flock often showed up to “evangelize” during subsequent Queer LiberAction events in Fort Worth, and most recently, the Kingdom Baptist folks showed up at this year’s Tarrant County Gay Pride Parade, held on Main Street in downtown Fort Worth for the first time.

Now, Kingdom Baptist has made the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, which today posted an article on its website about the street preachers and those who make it a point to confront and “mock” them.

Faust told the Star-Telegram that members of his congregation — who number about 100 and worship in Venus, near the border between that town and Mansfield — have been going to downtown Fort Worth on Friday nights to preach on the streets for about 10 years. He said they do it because the Bible tells them to, and that the Bible also warns they will face “mockers” as the end times draw near. And they aren’t just preaching about the sins of being LGBT; apparently they have a long list of targets, according to the Star-Telegram, from “baby killers” to “party animals.” They even warned moviegoers recently that the animated movie Puss In Boots, and all the movies showing at the Palace 9 theater, had “something Satanic” in them.

The Fort Worth newspaper says that folks out for a night on the town in Fort Worth are starting to fight back. Some stand around and make fun of the street preachers, and others write letters of complaint to Downtown Fort Worth Inc.

But as irritating and insulting — and idiotic — as we might find them, Faust and his flock have every right to stand on the streets and preach, as long as they don’t get too loud and violate the noise ordinances. I say let ’em preach, because I have every right to ignore their rants. I just hope, for their sake, they don’t ever try to confront my wife; she’s not as calm and peace-loving as I am.

—  admin

Freedom to Marry Day, 2010

Kim Davis, right, and Rose Preizier
Kim Davis, right, and Rose Preizier

Last year on Feb. 12, Kim Davis and Rose Preizier were married in a ceremony outside Dallas’ Records Building during a Freedom to Marry Day event staged by Queer LiberAction. The newlyweds, backed up by supporters from QL, then marched into the Records Building to request a marriage license.

They were denied the license, of course, since Texas has a constitutional amendment banning legal recognition of same-sex marriages.

The amendment is still on the books this year, but that won’t stop Queer LiberAction and Equality March Texas, two direct action groups that are working together to once again mark Freedom to Marry Day with a wedding and a march into the Records Building to demand a marriage license for the newly joined couple.

This year’s Freedom to Marry Day event starts at noon on Historical Plaza, outside the Records Building. And this year, it seems, the LGBT activists are going to have some unwelcome guests at the wedding.

According to an e-mail I received today from our good buddy “Pastor Joey” Faust of Kingdom Baptist Church in Mansfield, “Many Christians (including Kingdom Baptist Church, and Pastor Faust) are planning on protesting this wicked event.”

The e-mail goes on to explain that Christians “should be the light and salt of this world,” and that they are called on by the Bible to “hinder evil by reproving it and exposing it.” Pastor Joey also reminds readers that Kingdom Baptsit is the group that staged the counter-protest outside Fort Worth City Hall last year when LGBT activists gathered outside to encourage the City Council to vote for including protections for trans people in the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, and that Kingdom Baptist was also “responsible for the Protest Gay Day event at the Texas Ranger’s stadium a few years ago.”

So, if you can, get down to Historical Plaza on Friday at noon and help make sure that the couple getting married that day have more well-wishers in the crowd than Pastor Joey and his group can muster up to try and ruin the day.

—  admin

Christian counterprotesters crash QL Milk Box

Blake Wilkinson, founder of Queer LiberAction, said the group’s Milk Box community forum in Fort Worth on Sunday was crashed by surprisingly aggressive anti-gay counterprotesters. Wilkinson said when about six or seven QL members arrived for the Milk Box, the counterprotesters had already seized the planned site, at the corner of Houston and Third streets. To avoid a confrontation, the QL’ers moved down the block, but then the group of about 15 counterprotesters started coming toward them in a threatening manner. “It got to a point where we just had to leave,” said Wilkinson, noting that there were no Fort Worth police officers present. “I think people were getting concerned for their safety. We definitely felt outnumbered.”

Wilkinson said the counterprotesters were from Kingdom Baptist Church of Mansfield. This appears to be the same church that’s led by Pastor Joey Faust, who sent out a press release earlier today encouraging anti-gay protesters to attend tomorrow night’s City Council meeting, where an LGBT protest is planned. In fact, it appears as though Faust may be one of the men in the above video from yesterday. After the jump, read QL’s full press release about the incident.

—  John Wright