Black and LGBT in the Black Church

Straight and gay pastors weigh in on the polarizing isssue

Reverend Mozell Albright of the United House of Strength in Brooklyn feels gays should be welcomed in church, but mainly because “they are spiritually sick” and must come to be “healed.”  “In Leviticus 20 and 13 it says man shall not lie with another man,” she says. “It also says anyone who does this shall be put to death. They can push for all these [new laws] permitting gay marriage and other rights all they want. God’s word still stands.”

Reverend Albright is not alone. The National Black Church Initiative, described as a faith-based coalition of 34,000 churches that includes 15 denominations and 15.7 African-Americans, says it is committed to “protecting the biblical definition of marriage.” If elected officials in NY move forward with the recently passed legislation supporting gay marriage, the group vows to mobilize their congregations against any of those lawmakers. “…The recent passage of the same sex marriage bill was not only unjust, but unholy,” said Rev. Anthony Evans, President of the NBCI, in a recent press release. “What Governor Cuomo and the state Assembly did was to unleash the full power of the black church against them.”

Farrow calls that attitude hypocritical. “If all sins are created equal, why is [homosexuality]—and not adultery and premarital sex, which are obviously happening inside the church—damned to hell?” he asks. “It’s only a problem when people feel uncomfortable,” he says. “As long as gay folks are singing and dancing for [a straight audience] they are tolerated, but the moment they bring their partner to service or wear too much eye makeup, the whispering starts,” says Farrow.

And while the recent passage of gay-right initiatives like same-sex marriage in various states and countries may do nothing to change the mindsets of pastors like Rev. Albright, Farrow says they go a long way to empower gay people who have long been oppressed.

“The day of reckoning is coming for people in conservative Black Christian churches that want to consistently harass and judge people,” he says. “Folks aren’t going for it anymore. The role the black church had in the community years ago isn’t what it used to be—half the black community doesn’t even go to church, and there’s a reason for that. That ‘holier than thou’ attitude isn’t about anything else than controlling people’s behavior. And folks who continue to hang on to it are calling for their own irrelevance and demise.”

For more on Black LGBTQs, visit blackenterprise.com/blacklgbt. To read about the trails and triumphs of being black and gay in corporate America, pick up the July 2011 issue of Black Enterprise magazine, on stands now.

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