Rev. Wilfredo De Jesus is a pastor of a church in a neighborhood in Chicago. He may end up getting a seat in the Chicago City Council via appointment, as opposed to winning it in an election.
It’s not all that surprising to see a religious leader make the leap into local or state politics, at least not in Illinois, so why is this newsworthy?
De Jesus has a history of being anti-gay. His sermons have equated “homosexuality with drug addiction and other social ills.”
There’s plenty of evidence of his homophobia:
In an interview last year, De Jesus told Christianity Today that his paramount priorities were opposing abortion and homosexuality. In a neighborhood newspaper story about a proposed new high school geared toward gay students, De Jesus raised the specter of a virgin being harassed by gays or lesbians to have sex.
It’s possible that if he gets the council seat, he’d have control over funds for agencies with gay clients. That’s really the crux of the issue. It’s not just a personal belief — it’s a view that could have impact beyond his church.
De Jesus says this isn’t really a problem.
De Jesus says that he has never preached hatred of gay people and that his church’s opposition to homosexuality is rooted in a literal interpretation of the Bible.
… Asked repeatedly whether he viewed homosexuality as a sin, De Jesus replied: “I didn’t say that. The Bible says that. I don’t sit in a seat of judgment.”
I hate that argument.
He’s basically saying, “I don’t hate gay people. The Bible hates gay people. And I support what the Bible says. So I’m off the hook.”
It’s not a perfect analogy, but by that logic, I should be able to oppose Christian Bible Camps and make public statements that they should be condemned. And if you accuse me of being hateful or intolerant, I can just say I am neither of those things. But I’ve read The God Delusion and Richard Dawkins opposes indoctrination of children. So don’t blame me.
His argument and mine are both ludicrous. If you want to make such claims, I don’t care where that belief stems from. You better be able to defend it. And if you’re in politics, you better be able to defend it without resorting to your “faith,” as if that’s a legitimate excuse for your bigotry.
De Jesus has said that he won’t let his beliefs influence his politics, but I have a hard time believing that. How many politicians can you think of who are anti-gay in private but in support of equal rights for gay people in public?
In my heart, I can’t believe that all 4,000 worshipers agree with his anti-gay rhetoric. I wonder how many of them dare voice their opinion.