It never ceases to amaze me what people who call themselves “Christian” will do “in the name of God.”
On Wednesday, Sept. 28, Jerry Pittman Jr. and his boyfriend, Dustin Lee, drove up to Grace Fellowship Church near Humbolt, Tenn., to attend Wednesday night services. Pittman’s father, Jerry Pittman Sr., is the pastor at Grace Fellowship, and his uncle, Patrick Flatt, is a deacon there. The two young men knew that the church folks at Grace Fellowship didn’t approve of their relationship, and that the elder Pittman had even preached anti-gay sermons during services when his son and Lee were not there.
But Pittman Jr. and Lee had attended services there before without any problems, and Lee had even been asked to sing at the church before.
So it caught them off guard that Wednesday evening when, as they arrived and started to get out of the car to go into the church, they heard Pastor Pittman yell out, “Sic ’em!” And Deacon Flatt and two other church deacons ran to the car and began to beat up the two young men. Pittman Jr. and Lee said that even after a Gibson County sheriff’s deputy arrived, the pastor and deacons continued to yell anti-gay slurs and insults.
And to add insult to injury, the sheriff’s deputy refused to allow Pittman Jr. and Lee to press charges against their attackers. Gibson County Sheriff Chuck Arnold later told reporters that it would have been “out of character” for the deputy to refuse to allow the gay couple to press charges “unless they were causing a problem themselves.” Arnold, however, decided later to temper his remarks in subsequent interviews, the Unfinished Lives blog reports.
Rev. Sprinkle, by the way, is an openly gay minister and a professor at TCU’s Brite Divinity School. Unfinished Lives is also the name of the book he has written about LGBT people killed in hate crimes.
“Would Jesus condone anti-gay violence?” the Unfinished LIves blog asks. “If not, then why is such prejudice overtly and covertly incubated in the nation’s communities of faith, like Grace Fellowship? While it may be simple for many Christians to dismiss the Grace Fellowship hate crime as an aberration in an embarrassing, Pentecostal byway, the silence from every other church in the surrounding area is deafening.”