Church refuses funeral for gay man

High Point Church, in Arlington, TX, has refused to hold a funeral for 46 year old Navy vet, Cecil Sinclair, after discovering that he was gay. The church initially agreed to hold the service, but reversed their decision after staff came across photos of Sinclair embracing men as they were putting together a video tribute. That’s the churches story at least. Sinclair’s sister says it was called off after the church saw his life partner listed in the obituary.

While I think it’s disgusting and stupid that the church would deny a funeral to someone because they’re gay, it doesn’t really surprise me. A church discriminating against people who aren’t like them isn’t exactly new. What I do find interesting, however, is the church’s response. Says pastor Gary Simons:

“We did decline to host the service — not based on hatred, not based on discrimination, but based on principle”

Is that what the kids are calling it now days? Principle? In case Simons doesn’t have a dictionary handy, let me help him out by providing the definition of discrimination. According to dictionary.com, to “discriminate” is:

“to make a distinction in favor of or against a person or thing on the basis of the group, class, or category to which the person or thing belongs rather than according to actual merit”

Let’s see…refusing to hold a funeral service upon finding out that said dead man is homosexual? Hmm…that sounds a bit like…what’s the word? Discrimination! I mean, who are these people kidding? Are they lying to themselves by calling it “principle” so they can feel better about their beliefs? Just because their holy book might condone it (which is probably debatable), doesn’t make it less an act of discrimination. Take out the word “gay” and substitute some other category to see how it sounds – black, hispanic, jewish. Or how about substituting what someone does, rather than what they “are”. Doesn’t it sound ridiculous if the headline was “Church refuses funeral upon discovering deceased was a construction worker”? It really amazes me sometimes that people still hold these views. I can only hope that, as my generation gets older, these discriminatory beliefs will become more and more the minority.

To read the MSNBC article , click here.

Via Pharyngula

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23 Comments

  1. marlajayne said,

    August 12, 2007 at 5:04 pm

    Well said. Do you find it a bit ironical that the church’s name is High Point? There’s nothing high about this sort of decision or treatment. I’m thinking of Christ’s admonition to love one another…all of the one anothers, not just the ones whom you perceive to be acceptable.

  2. August 12, 2007 at 11:39 pm

    Pitiful.

  3. August 13, 2007 at 11:30 am

    […] As struggling lovers of God, are any of us able to have a church funeral? […]

  4. saintlewis said,

    August 13, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    Though I disagree with the decision, would your impression of the event be any different is the headline read like one of the following?:
    “Church refuses funeral for Pedofile”
    “Church refuses funeral for Serial Rapist”
    “Church refuses funeral for Murderer”

    or, I wonder if the church’s decision would’ve changed if he was in any way ‘repentant’.

    Just questions…

    Thanks for the interesting blog, though…

  5. Lily said,

    August 13, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    A gay man is not equivalent to a pedophile, rapist, or murderer. What he does in the privacy of his own home is his business and occurs among consenting adults, which cannot be said about the latter groups you listed. So yes, my impression would be different.

  6. zycos said,

    August 13, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    I pray as “your generation gets older” we’re indeed able to realize the ideal that “these discriminatory beliefs will become more and more the minority.”

    Unfortunately, my life experience has shown it not simply a generational issue but also a geographical, as well as educational one. Discrimination in all form exists everywhere, at all levels of society and among various cultures worldwide. Religion being one of the more polarizing examples where supposedly God-fearing people have been murdering one another for centuries. All in the various names of religion.

    But the blame is not solely on religion. Governments use our easily manipulated bias to their advantage in waging war against other nations. Even advertisers create extensions of our prejudiced nature for the sole purpose of capitalizing on them.

    In our more “enlightened” modern society, there are people who not only pass judgment on skin color or sexual preference but also based upon which sports team you favor, what school your kids attend and whose designer label they wear, even down to what kind of car you drive and its level of trim (LE, EX, LX, Special Edition, etc.)

    So, it seems to me as long as we are willing to allow religious, corporate and governmental entities to keep us separated on never-ending various points, we will forever be controlled by them, if only in our minds.

    Consider this: If we ever found ourselves confined in a prison cell, the only truly important assessment would be how we could work together, even using each other’s distinctive qualities, as means for mutual escape.

  7. zycos said,

    August 13, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    Lily – A gay person can do all of the above mentioned “in the privacy of his/her own home.”
    … and a whole lot more, just as any straight person can.

    The point to be made is not from who the person is, how they lived or whatever they did but the fact that a purportedly “religious” organization, made a distinction on so-called principle, as to whether this human being was worthy of their funeral services.

    I wonder if, being a self-professed representative of God, that church would stand against or allow for other distinctions that equally violate His word.

    But I digress to my own spiritual beliefs (not religious) as I’ve read the “About” statement for the author of this blog, who is a proclaimed atheist. I suggest you read it before commenting further and decide for yourself, it’s own merit.

  8. Lily said,

    August 13, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    Zycos, I am the author of this blog. I was replying to (and disagreeing with) the previous poster, who seemed to imply that a church discriminating against a gay man (or other class) may be similar to them ‘discriminating’ against a pedophile, rapist, or murderer. My reference to the “privacy of his home” and “consenting adults” is more a reflection of a general argument I use against a lot of so-called “victim-less crimes,” because I find it appeals to whatever reason and logic is left in some people. If I can point out that being gay is not in the same category as a murderer, perhaps I can open their mind a bit…maybe someday they can even accept that being gay is not a choice (I won’t be holding my breath for that one).

    Interesting points about corporations and government separating us and capitalizing on our discriminatory behavior. I would think that passing judgment on someone because of their sports team allegiance is not very harmful, but perhaps when one considers the larger scale (as you pointed out, teams, schools, cars, etc) it can become just as dangerous. In the case of the government using our fear and bias to wage war, it is very dangerous indeed.

    As for how the church would react in other instances that violate the bible, my guess is that it would reflect less on the words printed in the bible and more on the basic views of the congregation and pastor. As you pointed out, discrimination is as much a generational issue as it is an educational, cultural, and geographical matter. The bible, in its contradictory and manipulable state, is a vessel for both love and hate…to be used however its owner sees fit (hence the difference between evangelical and ‘moderate’ christians).

  9. saintlewis said,

    August 13, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    I only asked to see if that would change your emotional response since the same factors that are often argued publicly in favor of the acceptance of homosexuality – however hotly debated in the Scientific community – are often the same factors that can be – and are, on the occasion that scientists are willing to dare to go there – used to support the genetic predisposition of issues such as pedofilia, et etc.

    Secondly, since a surface reading of the Scriptures – the church’s foundational documents, and guidelines for their beliefs – would refer to all of those as in some sense ‘sin’, what would be ‘right’ for said church (at least to be consistent with their own beliefs) might be to not allow the funeral to be held there. Of course, then the issue arises: would they be consistent will other unrepentant sins, such as gluttony – and then the next question: should they be?

    I’m only saying that the issue is a very complex one, to say the least, and though I don’t agree with that church’s decision, I also can see the predicament they were in.

  10. saintlewis said,

    August 13, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    p.s. – though I didn’t reference those publications and periodicals in my post, as they aren’t currently at my fingertips, I worked for a large Scientific research facility for several years, which is where I came across that data – made me reconsider a number of my thoughts on such matters. Anyway, thank you for your post & your response.

  11. MichaelS said,

    August 13, 2007 at 6:55 pm

    saintlewis: The difference between being gay and a pedophile is who it affects, and how severely it affects them. Seeing a gay couple do their thing affects me as much as someone eating an avocado; in both cases, the idea is rather disgusting to me, so I’ll tend to look the other way or leave the area. In a public area, I might ask the persons involved to do it somewhere else, but to be fair I would then refrain from doing similar heterosexual acts in that same area.

    Pedophilia*, rape and murder, on the other hand, are much more invasive, and are non-consensual (pedophilia is non-consensual because a minor is not legally capable of giving consent). You can’t say “hang on, I wanna leave while you rape and murder me”, because you are a forced participant in the activity. Comparing gays to pedophiles, rapists and murderers is. . . ludicrous, really.

    * As far as I know, pedophilia doesn’t technically require physical actions, so it can be a private, one-sided, legal thing, provided the pedophile doesn’t act on his/her desires. This is similar to thinking it would be exciting to rob a casino, but never doing anything about it. Rape and murder, however, refer to the act itself so are always bad.

    Oddly enough, this was probably the first disagreement I ever had with the church in my descension into godlessness. They preached love, but insisted that love had to be contained in tightly defined settings that pretty much prohibit love. Right.

  12. zycos said,

    August 13, 2007 at 11:56 pm

    Lily – I realized that you were the author after I posted. Sorry. I meant no disrespect. Re-reading my last post, I believe everything but the last sentence was in correct response to your respective post.

    We appear to be saying the same thing but from two different perspectives.

    Yours, an atheistic view, attempting to point out the obvious differences in terms of perceived morality between being gay (which I really dislike that term, btw) and being a rapist, murderer, etc.

    …and mine, a spiritual, non-religious one, attempting to point out a church, who obviously holds itself to such high authority, as deciding for itself (and its congregation) where such lines of acceptance or rejection occur.

    The Bible can be interpreted just about any way one sees fit and in fact, has. I agree with you that it serves as a very powerful tool for the manipulative against those who will be manipulated.

    But if one ascribes to the idea of sin and the belief that God is truly just, then sin cannot be judged in degrees. Sin is sin. Period. It’s like computer code, either On or Off, ones or zero’s. There’s no one type sin greater or lesser than another. Murder is not a greater sin than rape, nor vice versa.

    True Christian doctrine states that even though their God disapproves of “a man laying down with another man” thereby making it a sin, the whole process of salvation, through true repentance for that “sinful act,” is forgiven by the acceptance of Jesus Christ, as Savior. Savior from what? Unforgivable sin? I mean, what could wield as much influential force and threat as death does to the living? Eternal damnation, that’s what.

    That’s why the whole concept of redemption was created. To provide a power structure through which the fallen can redeem themselves. According to every mainstream religion, we have all fallen short and need to seek redemption.

    And redemption can only be bought… I’m sorry, found through the church. That’s how it must be in order to maintain the control, purpose and need for organized religion.

    But not all belief systems conveniently fit everyone’s lifestyle. That’s why there are so many different ones, all claiming to be the absolute truth. In reality there can exist only one, absolute truth. To suggest or imply another absolute truth exists, would invalidate all truth.

    The Muslims fervently believe their Koran as absolute truth as much as the Christians fervently believe in their Bible as the absolute truth. The Hindus hold their cows sacred, while most of us in America eat them (the cows, not the Hindus.)

    Even Christian religions can’t agree among themselves whose variation is the absolute truth. The Catholics once threatened followers with sin for eating meat on Fridays or having sex for the pure pleasure of it. But they claim distinction between mortal sins vs venial sins to cull it all out, sort of like little white lies versus G.W. Bush lies. (Just kidding, forgive me… I couldn’t help myself!)

    Seventh Day Adventists maintain their church to be the only true remnant church because they keep the Sabbath (Saturday) Holy. Yet, they readily concede that breaking any one of the other nine commandments is same as breaking them all. If that’s true, how can they make any claim of absoluteness based on solidly adhering to that one commandment over other religions who don’t consider Saturday as the Sabbath?

    Most Christian religions hold worship services on Sunday but it doesn’t take a first year theology student to know that’s the day handed down by ancients as worship to their Sun God. Then there’s the whole Julian/Gregorian calendar sidestep courtesy of King Constantine’s desire to appease his subjects’ growing unrest… and on and on.

    So which religion holds as the absolute truth? My position is they’re all man made perversions of the True Word of God, figuratively speaking. Each one set up for the convenience (or lack thereof) of those who choose to follow any particular religious path for one reason or another… or maybe none at all.

    Most religions are based on one disingenuous precept: unworthiness. Whether in the form of uncleanliness, unholiness or un-otherness it all starts off as not being worthy enough. Each religion presents a path to become worthy but only by following their prescribed tenants.

    What they don’t tell you is worthiness within their system is unattainable. That would be self-defeating. Fostering such an environment would only serve to discourage its followers, sending them elsewhere seeking better answers. No, there has to be a backup plan for circumventing your inevitable failures and every religion has one.

    The church puts itself at the highest visible order between the people and their Diety. If someone were to actually ascend this impossible ladder of atonement, they would be positioned high above the church. Last time somebody tried that, they (the church) crucified Him.

    Those who claim the Bible is the written word of God, intrigue me as much as confound me. How do they know, for certain? I mean we’re talking about some pretty heavy stuff here… or not.

    While I ascribe to several behavioral principles on how we should act, live and treat others as presented in the Bible, I don’t know if I would trust in it all that completely. Throughout history there have been too many scribes seeking favor, land, riches or just lending bias (there’s that word again) to make me believe the Bible is letter for letter, true to God’s original word. Maybe in basis, but not entirely of fact.

    First off, it is known the “original” scrolls contained no punctuation. No commas, periods or capitalization. What Divine power led those early monks to know where to insert a comma or put a period. And which “he” got capitalized? The “He” who made the light or the other “he?” And why if God is such an ethereal being, is He constantly limited to a certain gender? Or race? Or sexual preference? The Bible portrays this omnipotent being as showing clear favoritism among His own creations, a weakness I would hope belonging only to we mere mortals.

    And there is the King James Version of The Bible. What do you think a version is? He was a king. How would he be considered among his subjects in light of a more powerful King? Could the scribes have been somehow rewarded for interpreting the scriptures in closer accord with King Jame’s own theological preferences? Or could any one of them simply have humanly misinterpreted passages over the ages, depending on their moods, emotions or abilities for understanding.

    All I know with certainty is that some entity originally created a living tree. I know man can grow a tree, even clone a tree but he can never create a tree from absolutely nothing.

    I also know that descendant tree in my yard is as real as I am when I wrap my arms around it. Whatever, whomever created that living tree I accept as having created the living me. Anything beyond that, certainly any explanation derived from man’s thinking, intellectual, emotional or otherwise and absent any actual, physical proof to the contrary, does not interest me. (Although I do love challenging the Seventh Day’ers and Jehovah Witnesses when they come a knocking.)

    Bottom line for me? I believe in God, as my Creator, as the only true Creator of all things. That is my truth, my absolute truth. Everything else as far as I’m concerned, including evolutionist and creationist theories are just that, pure conjecture. I don’t know how it all began nor do I particularly care.

    I know I digressed from the original subject matter but felt it necessary to underscore my disdain for all the harm religions and their falsehoods and false hopes create in the name of my God. The article you presented only furthers proof of man’s most harmful and decadent perversion.

    I’ll leave all with this last thought, more on the subject at hand:

    Being gay is not a choice, whereas committing murder, rape or any other heinous, grievous act IS a choice. This, despite what defense attorneys and Freudian psychiatrists may argue.

    To deny any human being the basic dignity of a final service based on some religious “principle” is an abomination unto itself. This church or more, the people who made the decision to refuse this man a last bit of human decency, have dishonored themselves more than their own self-righteous claims against the man himself. If they believe in anything they preach, they’ll get down on their knees and ask their God for forgiveness.

    It’s a shame their example isn’t more of an exception, just a little more hypocritical and exposed than most.

    That said, I appreciate the opportunity to express my humble, if some consider ignorant, opinions.

  13. Chad said,

    August 14, 2007 at 5:05 am

    My mom taught me this…..
    Jesus loves me this I know for the bible….
    Wait a sec! High Point Church says Jesus hates me!!!!
    My own mother LIED to me! THAT BITCH!

    http://www.HighPointHatesFags.com

    .

  14. saintlewis said,

    August 14, 2007 at 10:00 am

    So, MichaelS – for you the issue isn’t whether or not it’s biological, but whether or not it hurts another? Of course, I know many families (and even communities) that have been destroyed by someone choosing to act on homosexual desires (that family is now 3 generations removed from the individual – ie. grandchildren – and I can still see the negative effects it caused in those around them: the whole family system crumbled), and in at least one of those cases it’s very obvious that the individuals homosexual desire has very clear psychological foundations (raped by a man several times in his youth, and absentee father) rather than biological. Is that person’s choosing to have homosexual sex, when in his case counseling (which was never pursued) may have ‘straightened’ him (and no – it doesn’t always work, but there are clear cases of psychological homosexuality that are not biologically predetermined – and a great many of them, at that), which would have saved an otherwise healthy marriage and family – if the children had an intact family, maybe the drugs, prostitution, and other illegal activities that this otherwise ‘together’ family likely would not have occurred. That’s just one example, but it’s just to ask just because something is between two consenting adults, does that means it’s still okay, as our actions all affect those around us?

    Interesting discussion…& my final post.

  15. saintlewis said,

    August 14, 2007 at 10:07 am

    And I’m a liar:
    I should also point out that any good Evangelical (Bible-believing) reading of the Bible will acknowledge that NO WHERE does the Bible condemn BEING ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual’ – in fact, it doesn’t even address it as a state of ‘being’, no matter what angle one comes at the subject. The only thing related to homosexuality that is condemned in the Bible is POSSIBLY (i.e. – the Bible may be read this way) the ACT of having homosexual sex. There is a difference between someone ‘being’ and someone ‘acting’, as one is a desire, and one is an action based on that desire – read this in light of MichaelS’s post, and I think it makes sense.

    Okay, finis!

  16. MichaelS said,

    August 14, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    I don’t see how the problem with your example family is related to homosexuality. Those same problems occur in heterosexual families all the time. It’s not about being gay or straight, it’s about being unfaithful. It wouldn’t be any different if he had a gay partner with adopted kids and cheated on that man with a woman after turning straight. (I’m reading into what you actually stated–perhaps he didn’t physically cheat on her, but the emotional cheating can do just as much damage.)

    I agree there are times where an otherwise acceptable action could be rendered immoral by the effects it has on others, but there’s nothing more wrong about having gay relations than having straight relations. Take a straight couple with a good lifestyle. Now, have a gay couple with the same lifestyle. If the straight couple is OK, there’s no reason why the gay couple isn’t OK. Sure, some people will disapprove, but people disapprove of different-race marriages, different-class marriages, etc. But more importantly, it doesn’t affect them to any real extent–sure they have to deal with the fact that there’s a gay couple living next door, but I have to deal with my friend eating guacomole every time we go to a Mexican resteraunt; boo-hoo.

  17. MichaelS said,

    August 14, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    Oh, and the part about being “biological”: it’s all biological. The urge to beat the guy who ran me off the road and nearly killed me is just as biological as the urge to make out with hot girls (or hot guys, if I were gay). But the cause is only relevant to how you change behavior; not whether you should change it.

    Zycos: “and mine, a spiritual, non-religious one, attempting to point out a church, who obviously holds itself to such high authority, as deciding for itself (and its congregation) where such lines of acceptance or rejection occur.”

    The problem is that the church is saying being gay is worse than all the sins committed by other members who get burials: infidelity, lying, cheating, stealing, sex outside marriage, etc. The way the church sees it, if you had someone who had never done any sin in their life, but was gay, they would be more unforgivable than someone who had led a life full of horrible sin, but was straight.

    I doubt every single church is like this, and I know not every religious person is, but I’ve seen preachers who cheated on their wives, but refuse to let a gay person take part in some activity. Sorry, but last I checked adultery was one of the big ten “thou shalt nots”, while being gay isn’t even considered sinful in all the Christian religions. If you’re going to deny a person burial rights because they’re gay, you’d better start denying every last person in your church burial rights for far more heinous sins.

  18. Candace said,

    August 14, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    Lily,
    Spend a bit of time at medline & see if you can find anything of substance supporting homosexuality as a genetic or inherited condition. You need practice with medline anyway. I say this as a former Jr & Sr. Medicine clerkship director from a university medical school.

    Good luck to you during your clerkships.

  19. zycos said,

    August 14, 2007 at 6:54 pm

    I reiterate my point because it seems to have been overlooked or maybe just shadowed by my lengthy diatribe against all religions:

    Being gay is not a choice, whereas committing murder, rape or any other heinous, grievous act IS a choice. This, despite what defense attorneys and Freudian psychiatrists may argue.

    To deny any human being the basic dignity of a final service based on some religious “principle” is an abomination unto itself. This church or more, the people who made the decision to refuse this man a last bit of human decency, have dishonored themselves more than their own self-righteous claims against the man himself.

  20. zycos said,

    August 14, 2007 at 7:11 pm

    And how did the church know this man hadn’t accepted Jesus into his heart before he died? According to their own doctrine, he would have been forgiven for his “sins” -all of them. Who was the pastor, so high and Holy, that he knew this man’s heart?

  21. MichaelS said,

    August 16, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    “Being” gay may not be a choice, any more than enjoying the taste of avocados is a choice. But having gay relations and doing gay activities is most definately a choice, just like sex outside marriage is a choice, adultery is a choice, etc. Saying “gay” isn’t a choice is like your spouse saying “I can’t help cheating on you because being attracted to other people isn’t a choice.”; while the attraction may be unavoidable, everybody has the ability to say no.

    Of course, this all flies in the face of Christian teaching; Jesus himself said “If you hate your brother you are guilty of murder.” Which, of course, means most everybody has committed murder, adultery and theft at some point in their lives. So, again, it’s all a bunch of hypocrisy.

    Now, there is another approach to the situation, which is that these people honestly try to not think bad things about people, and are genuinely sorry for doing these things, where a person who is actively gay is obviously not trying very hard to be otherwise, and probably isn’t sorry at all. But what about the many, many Christians who go out and get absurdly drunk, sleep with whomever they feel like, etc.? They obviously aren’t sorry and aren’t trying to do better, but the church just ignores them while damning gays, drug users and whores (which is somehow worse than sleeping around for fun. . .).

  22. zycos said,

    August 17, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    MichaelS: Your point of view about being gay and being able to choose not to engage in gay relationships is akin to being heterosexual and choosing not to engage in heterosexual relationships.

    And somehow equating having sex outside of marriage to “doing gay activities” is equally bewildering, to me anyway.

    Then comparing unrepentant gays (unrepentant for what?) to Christians who get “absurdly drunk… etc.” and showing no remorse is same as saying “animals show no remorse for the prey they eat just like Christians who show no remorse for getting drunk or sleeping around.”

    Man, which side of the fence are you on? Do you think all gay people have to restrain from seeking relationships or deny their gayness? Trying to force a gay person into a hetero relationship just doesn’t work, for long anyway. Or should “those people” not be entitled to having relationships at all?

    Btw, I’m not gay, not even curious. I do think, however, I possess a little more understanding of the situation than your posts would make you appear.

    Are you hard core Christian? Gay hater? Gay lover? Christian hater? What the hell frightened you when you were a child?

    I wonder.

  23. zycos said,

    September 8, 2007 at 11:47 pm

    Damn, did I scare everybody away?


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