In not so surprising news regarding the Church of God in Christ and their annual
Premiere Pride Event Holy Convocation, Francis Kelly (who is only one of very many) preached a sermon about bad kids and their no good parents. The hour long tirade covers everything from bashing women for the adultery their men commit, slamming women who don’t know how to cook a meal for their men, slamming unmarried couples, harping on divorce rates in the United States, and suggesting that women should get together and learn how to keep their man via classes on how to be freaky. Somewhere in the sermon, which likened the mineral salt to God’s love, does she expose herself as an early 20th century nasty woman, not for her “slutty” ways, but because somewhere in all of this metaphor, Kelly talks about a time when she had to salt pork, and the only place to hang it was in the outhouse. For those young people who are unaware, outhouses were little shacks in the backyard created in a time before toilets and bathrooms existed as common necessities in homes. This lady hung her salted meat in the outhouse. That is the modern day equivalent of washing your collard greens in the bath tub. It’s absolutely unnecessary and you can find somewhere else to do it.
The sermon is par for the course when it comes to what we expect from the COGIC’s annual
Gay Pride Holy Convocation. Every year, we sinners receiving berating of some sort; but there always seems to be a special clip from this preacher’s sermon or that evanglist’s altar call. Well, this year we got the altar call video.
And while some of us may sit back and laugh at the pure unmitigated ignorance of these types of messages, we need to pause and take a moment to reflect on how many of us Queer People of Color have been the victim of such hate speech from our religious institutions. We must also consider the danger of the vitriol of these words and attitudes. All too often queer youth are made to feel less than human, all in the name of “God’s Love™.” Women, Men, and everyone in between and everyone beyond the spectrum of gender (as if the church would ever acknowledge that) often times grow up to be closeted, hate themselves, and question their own existence. Living the life of a Queer person (much less a Queer Person of Color) comes with enough baggage. Do we really need to accept this kind of treatment from our Houses of Worship?
It is a particular conundrum for many QPOC because so many of our cultures are tied up in one religious institution or another, and most of, if not all, them have their hardcore, big mouthed homophobic leaders. For The Black Church, homophobia is a real issue, but for the COGIC, homosexuality seems to be a front line agenda item. I’ll never forget the first time I used the internet to see what the COGIC was doing, and the fact that on the front page of their website, in bold red letters, they had decided not to welcome visitors, but to make their stance of homosexuality known (I can let you guess what their exact stance was. Spoiler alert: they weren’t trying to go to brunch with us).
Again, while I can now joke about this, being a 34 year old man who has “gotten over” the church and who has many friends who are “recovering victims” of the COGIC, we need to consider the fact that the type of hateful messaging being displayed in the video above is only negatively impacting young people currently going through the throes of QPOC life.
Bishop Charles Edward Blake, presiding Bishop over the Church of God in Christ, must not only denounce this type of homophobic rhetoric, but must also outline a plan to get his flock in order, to make all who have a platform (and those who do not) understand that we do not live in the 1950s any longer, and to preach actual love, just as the Lord would have it be.