Arlington’s High Point Church says holding service would ‘promote gay lifestyle’
Kathleen Wright holds a picture of her deceased brother, Cecil Howard Sinclair.
ARLINGTON, Texas — Family and friends were shocked and expressed outrage Aug. 13 when a Texas Church reneged on a promise to hold a memorial service for a Navy veteran once it learned he was gay.
“This is not a church, but a ‘hate house’ that has elevated prejudice above principle and discrimination above basic human decency,” said Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Out, a non-profit organization that counters right-wing propaganda, exposes the “ex-gay” myth and educates America about gay life.
“The hellish treatment of a family in mourning by a supposed house of God is an abomination and we strongly urge pastor Gary Simons to resign. These ugly actions are a glimpse of the unconscionable religion-based bigotry often faced by gay and lesbian people on a daily basis.”
Cecil Howard Sinclair, 46, was a patriotic veteran who served in Desert Storm helping rescuers find downed pilots. He died from an infection after surgery to prepare him for a heart transplant.
His brother was a janitor at High Point Church, so the congregation offered to host his memorial service. However, the church broke its word after his obituary listed his life partner as one of his survivors.
“[W]hen the obituary came out in the paper and listed his life partner as one of the survivors, I truly believe the big-pocket parishioners called the church and said, ‘Why are you having a funeral for a gay person?’” Sinclair’s sister, Kathleen Wright, told The Associated Press. “It’s a slap in the face. It’s like, ‘Oh, we’re sorry he died, but he’s gay so we can’t help you.’”
Rev. Simons tried to justify his heartless behavior by saying that Sinclair’s family submitted photos for the memorial service that made it clear that he was gay. The pastor compared this to a hypothetical situation where a mother who is a church member lost a child who had stolen or committed murder.
“But I don’t think the mother would submit photos of her son murdering someone,” he said. “That’s a red light going off.”
“These ignorant comments are a new low point for High Point Church and a monument to the malignant homophobia that has infected many religious institutions,” said Besen.
Besen went on to point out that such fervent and malevolent rejection of gay people in some conservative churches is what drives many to so-called “ex-gay” ministries.
“When people grow up in churches that say you are so wicked that you are not even worthy of dying with dignity it sends an unmistakable message,” said Truth Wins Out spokesperson Rev. Jerry Stephenson. “People who face such withering and soul crushing discrimination are desperate to change so they can be loved and accepted — and this is the undercurrent of shame that feeds clients directly into the clutches of so-called ex-gay ministries.”