Pastor Who Told Gay Volunteer He Couldn’t Work with Children Anymore Clarifies Decision by Saying Nothing

I’ve posted a couple of times already about how Pastor Mark Brewer of Crosspoint Wesleyan Church in Fredericton, New Brunswick kicked 20-year-old Colin Briggs out of the church because he was gay. Despite Briggs being a long-time volunteer, missionary, and camp counselor for the church, Brewer feared that other members of the congregation would not want to leave their children near Briggs if they ever found out about his sexual orientation… so instead of enlightening the congregation, he asked Briggs to stop volunteering with them.

Colin Briggs in Haiti (The New Brunswick Beacon)

On Facebook, Christians and non-Christians alike blasted Brewer for his decision. Even conservative Christians could argue this was a violation of “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”

This week, Brewer spoke to his congregation about his decision:

Far from being an apology, Brewer didn’t offer any insight whatsoever. He basically implied that Colin had gay cooties and left it there. He explained that there was much discussion and prayer and the decision wasn’t made lightly… and that was it. No clarification at all. He then whined about how no one ever writes about the wonderful things the church does and how members do a lot of volunteer work and how there are good people within the church… but at no point did he deny or even attempt to explain how the stories we’ve heard weren’t true.

Toward the end of the video, Brewer remarked, “Tolerance is supposed to be a two-way street.” As if bigotry and love should be on the same playing field.

Since Brewer couldn’t explain why Briggs could no longer volunteer with them, I’m left with no choice but to quote him directly:

“We felt it would be in the best interest of him and the church if he stopped serving,” said Brewer. This would “avoid any potential uproar that may be caused if families were to find out an openly gay male was working in the children’s ministry.

The man’s homophobic and bigoted, pure and simple. Anyone who remains in his congregation is endorsing those views and deserve to be criticized the same way. If Brewer has more to add, I’d love to hear it — I’ve reached out to the church for comment and will gladly post his comments if they dare to respond.

In the meantime, you can add this story to your ever-growing list of reasons of how religion makes decent people worse.

(Thanks to Chuck for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Susana Paço

    Poor children whose parents belong to this church :( they are being taught first hand that being a bigot is okay and will suffer from that in the future. What an egotistical way of life this church promotes!

  • Mitch

    Maybe I just missed it, but there didn’t even seem to be any implying of “gay cooties,” let alone an actual reason. He just said “Oh yeah, we definitely don’t do this lightly” and smoothed the whole thing over by claiming “deeper and more complex issues” and protecting those involved.

    Tolerance should not be extended to those who are so intolerant of others.

  • JT Rager

    “Tolerance is supposed to be a two way street.” Excuse me? How is this relevant? Intolerance is also a two-way street, and critics of his clearly are intolerant of intolerance.

    • TheG

      Yup. If he doesn’t want someone in his church being fired for being Christian, he needs to extend the same courtesy. THAT is a two way street.

    • GCBill

      “If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.” – Sir Karl Popper

    • Jasper

      Believe it or not, there are valid things to be tolerant of, and invalid things to be intolerant of.

      For example, it is invalid to be intolerant of women in the workplace… and it’s valid to be intolerant of sexism.

      Your rudimentary education in the nuances of reality is brought to you by Honey Nut Cheerios.

      • JT Rager

        Not sure if I was unclear, but that was a quote from the pastor, according to this article. I agree with everything you’re saying. I’m sick and tired of the Christians who whine that they’re being called bigots and intolerant.

        I mean, if the shoe fits…

    • Baby_Raptor

      It’s the old “Tolerate my intolerance!” bullshit.

  • Artor

    “There was much discussion and prayer and the decision wasn’t made lightly…” and I still decided to be a bigot. Just in case anyone wondered what my core values are.

    • John

      Really makes you wonder whether it’s worse to make a bad decision on a whim or in ignorance, or to put a lot of thought into your decision but choose the wrong one anyway.

  • robert chacon

    Why do end your decent story with an ignorant conclusion? Religion doesnt make decent people worse! Bad people failing to live up to their religion make themselves worse. There are enough ugly Christians and atheists to go around without blaming either “philosophy.” But simply because the pastor did not want to go into details does not give you the right to assume the worst motives. How do you know Briggs wasnt accused of child molestation and the Pastor was trying to protect Briggs from scandal? The grandson of Billy Graham recently indicated that the Evangelical mission field is rife with molestation problems. You dont know the situation well enough to go blasting the pastor. Youre not being intolerant of intolerance. Youre being prejudicial. The very thing you go around calling Christians all the time.

    • Patrick

      1. A cursory glance at the old testament tells me God is not someone I want anyone to strive to be like, nor his son who is so narcissistic he promises eternal conscious torment to anyone who doesn’t kiss his ass for their enitre life. Religion and striving to be religious makes people worse. always.

      2. What does molestation in foreign countries have to do with this situation? Are you saying that there’s some correlation between homosexuality and molestation? This is the epitome of bigoted ignorance.

      3. I can only assume that you’re one of the people who may have been otherwise good, but is made evil by religion. You’re sticking up for evil, you are complicit in it, and you seem to associate molestation and homosexuality.

      You are evil.

    • EdmondWA

      Are you saying that protecting a molester would be a good motivation?

      • ZeldasCrown

        Exactly. Even in the scenario outlined by robert chacon, the pastor is behaving abominably. Rather than turning a child molester into the police (or just letting the police sort out any claims if the claims are false) the appropriate response is supposed to be to just tell that person they can’t do child ministry anymore, but they may remain in the church no questions asked (nor seemingly any restrictions to access to children other than not openly serving a children’s organization)? robert’s scenario is actually worse than what was described Hemant’s post

    • Miss_Beara

      Hey look everyone, somebody else that thinks homosexuality, especially homosexual men, equates to being child molesters! Wow, nothing like a burst of ignorance late this afternoon.

      • God’s Starship

        The irony of this post: “It’s wrong to assume the worst about the pastor! You should assume the worst about the gay man instead!”
        Truly, one of the most stomach turning comments I’ve ever seen here.

        • Jeff

          Miss_Beara and God’s Starship, brilliant posts. Just…brilliant.

    • God’s Starship

      You’d rather invent a story out of thin air where you make the clear victim a monster than acknowledge the pastor is a bigot by his own account of the story. At best, your pathetic fantasy makes the pastor an aid to a child molester. You, sir, are sick libelous prick.

    • ragarth

      You’ve got it backwards. Good Christians are the ones who manage to live above their religion. Remember, it’s the bible (that holy text Christians are supposed to follow) that puts a price on a rape victim’s head for her rapist to pay for unlimited access.

      And seriously, do you think your fabrication of a story is any better? 1) You’re equating being gay with being a pedophile with utterly no evidence (bigot much?) and 2) The priest would just be harboring a child molester. I’d call that an even worse scenario than the priest living up to his religion’s expectations and being a bigot.

    • Baby_Raptor

      When the bible commands people to do immoral things, and people then do those immoral things “Because the bible says so,” then religion has made those people worse.

      And your example should also be proof of that. A bunch of “godly” people molesting children?

    • RobMcCune

      So the only “good” motive you can think of for Pastor Bigot is that he might be protecting a rapist??? If you’re trying to show that religion does not give people bad morals and priorities you’re doing a piss poor job of it.

    • Highlander

      The difference is atheists don’t claim that atheism is the source of all morality and no one can be moral without atheism the way Christians claim morality comes from god and anyone who doesn’t worship god can’t possibly be moral. And atheists sure as hell don’t give someone a pass for being immoral just because that person claims some sort of moral superiority due to their supposed relationship with their imaginary friend. Religion gives an excuse for people to be shitty to others, people who might otherwise be decent human beings if their pastors weren’t telling them hateful stories every week.

    • DavidMHart

      Religion doesnt make decent people worse! Bad people failing to live up to their religion make themselves worse.

      Actually, believing anything that isn’t true is likely in some circumstances to make decent people behave badly. Consider, for some obvious examples, the Jehovah’s Witnesses who would refuse their children blood transfusions, or the Christian Scientists who would refuse their children all medical treatment, because they believe either that it’s God’s will that their child die, and therefore who are you to try to prevent is, or that prayer will be an effective cure. Both of those beliefs (that there is a god who wants to take your child up to heaven now, and that there is a god who will hear your prayers for healing) are almost certainly not true, but the people who act on them want the best for their child. They either want their child to get better, or they want them to not go to Hell for disobeying their god. The bad behaviour is a direct result of their religious beliefs.

      Now this case isn’t quite as extreme, but if you believe in a god who condemns homosexuality (a proposition for which there is absolutely no good evidence), then you are far more likely to find yourself mistreating gay people than if you believe that there no gods, and that human sexuality is not something dependent on supernatural commandments, but subject to a wide range of preferences and behaviours, most of which cause no harm to others, even if they are not the most common set of preferences and behaviours.

    • Spuddie

      Religion makes wicked people act with impunity. It gives them excuses which have social sanction to some.

      There are not enough ugly atheists around to make an equivalence argument. Its bullshit said to make one feel better about the people believers chose to associate with.

      There are no efforts by atheists organized or not to attack the rights, dignity and persons of those who disagree with them. The same is never true of theists. Religion when given unchecked power ALWAYS acts badly.

      “How do you know Briggs wasnt accused of child molestation and the Pastor was trying to protect Briggs from scandal?”

      Because that would require some evidence. One could not assume such a situation exists just because it would absolve bad behavior. But naturally the willingness to spin a story, use potential character assassination and rumors for support doesn’t bode well for a good faith argument. You are being very prejudicial to make such assumptions in the absence of facts.

  • Cattleya1

    I guess this creep of a pastor doesn’t understand that people can be gay and not lust after children? Not to mention all the hetero pedophiles out there wreaking havoc in kids lives. I hope Colin can figure out how to move on.

  • Baby_Raptor

    If I had kids, I’d *much* rather leave them with Colin than any person this “preacher” approves of.

  • Zeke

    Hopefully something positive comes from this story, such as a few more people putting their beliefs and association with Christianity behind them.

  • Nomad

    I’m going to disagree with the whole “he’s a bigot” conclusion. Oh, he may be one, but that’s not what his actions are demonstrating. What he’s doing here is showing that he’s another gutless pastor who’s unwilling to challenge his congregation to be better. He assumes, perhaps rightly, that his “flock” doesn’t know the difference between homosexuals and pedophiles. But the thing is he’s supposed to be their moral leader, he’s supposed to tell them that that’s wrong and that they’re supposed to be better. But instead he booted out a dedicated volunteer to keep it from ever getting to the point where he might have to show some leadership.

    • Derrik Pates

      So he may not be a bigot, just a bigot-enabler? Doesn’t seem like a very big difference.

      • Spuddie

        It shouldn’t be. The end results are the same. The only difference is the bigot-enabler can pretend to feel guilty about their alacrity and the rest of us can pretend to care.

      • CottonBlimp

        I think Nomad is saying the difference is one of taxonomy rather than value.

  • pleasebereasonable

    I just can’t get past how gimmicky the pulpit is. The colored lights, the abstract projections, even the grunge rock look of the pastor. It looks like the stage of an awards show.