A couple weeks ago, a 21-year-old student named Ashton Pittman posted an incredible story on his blog about the first time he went to hear anti-gay Christian pastor Damon Thompson.
It’s not simply that he was the first preacher I ever heard use anti-gay slurs in a sermon or make the suggestion that it was possible to change one’s sexuality; it’s that he was the first preacher I ever heard sell homophobia and self-hatred so effectively.
At the time, Ashton still considered himself a Baptist, but that was about to change. He went down to Alabama in the summer of 2008 to hear Thompson preach in person. What he heard appalled him and he made sure to get a DVD of the event so he could look back on it.
Damon called upon those who were struggling with homosexual demons to come to the front and be “set free from sin.”…
Over a period of forty minutes, kids approached the altar one-by-one — some admitting to same-sex attraction for the first time in their lives. Some fell to their knees in brokeness, rocking back and forth as they prayed for absolution; others stood with their arms spread out as tears spilled from their eyes. By the end of the morning, dozens had approached the altar hoping to lay their burden down.
Every person in the room was spellbound by the spectacle. Every single one of them seemed to believe that these kids had truly been ‘delivered from homosexuality.’ Every person but me. As I stood by watching as if from a distant land, I knew in my heart that these kids would only hate themselves even more a week later when they caught themselves still averting their glance from a member of the same-sex. I knew then that my days of giving any credence to the world of charismania (as I like to call the Christian charismatic movement) were long over.
Ashton uploaded video of that service to YouTube. It’s one of those videos that ought to make any decent Christian ashamed to be part of the faith.
The video made the rounds in the gay blogosphere (though not so much the atheist one) and it’s worth sharing now. It’s just more proof that Christianity can do real damage to a lot of young people.
Thompson caught wind that video of his bigotry was being passed around and he responded to it. He says the clip was taken out of context… but then explains how everything Ashton said was completely accurate:
The video clips most viewed are very short and depict strong statements about homosexuality. I wish to clarify my purpose behind making them. The brevity of the video clips do not allow a viewer the opportunity to hear the entirety of my message and heart.
Any statements I make concerning homosexuality are in the hopes of turning the homosexual to the path of eternal life. I talk about homosexuality as I would adultery, alcoholism, pornography, drug addiction, etc. As with all sin, I recognize its destructive nature and out of love call people away from it.
Ministries at which I frequently preach have volumes upon volumes of my messages presenting love, forgiveness, and mercy. I do not hate homosexuals, but I do recognize that the wages of sin is death. Therefore, I preach in such a way as to offer an opportunity for change because change is a possibility.
Isn’t that what all Christians say? All sins are equal; some are just more equal than others. They love gay people so much that they want to deny them equal rights. Sickening, right?
And this is a church geared to kids and young adults. It’s brainwashing at best, emotional and psychological abuse at worst.
Why more Christians don’t take a stand against people like Thompson, I don’t know. They know damn well that this type of service goes on all across the country. But instead of publicly denouncing it, most Christians who know he’s wrong just sit back, patting themselves on the back because their churches aren’t as openly hateful as Thompson is — when they bash homosexuals, they don’t do it in front of a camera… but their pastors still preach that homosexuality is immoral, that they disagree with the “gay lifestyle,” that the love two gay people share is somehow worth less than the love between a man and a woman.
Thompson is no more homophobic than most moderate Christians. He’s just open about it and he doesn’t care if you know it.
What we need are the liberal Christians who know he’s wrong to come out in full force against people like him and the churches they lead.
(Thanks to Bentley for the link!)