​Funeral For Gay Man: Church Cancels Gay Funeral Over Blasphemy

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August 12, 2021

A funeral for a gay man was called off by a pastor at the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa, Florida.

According to Examiner, Julion Evans, who was a gay man, died last month and his mother, Julie Atwood, asked her current pastor to preach her son’s funeral. The pastor agreed, but needed a larger church to accommodate the hundreds of mourners expected to attend his memorial services. They chose New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, and after receiving permission from the pastor, the home-going services were scheduled for July 26.

However, the church soon revoked the invitation after a newspaper obituary listed Kendall Capers as Evans’ husband. The family attends the church and wanted the funeral to be held there, Evans’ mother told WFLA.

While the funeral for the gay man was canceled, T.W. Jenkins, the pastor of the church, said that New Hope Missionary Baptist Church doesn’t same-sex marriage. The decision to cancel the funeral came after several congregants called Jenkins to complain, and he felt obliged. Here’s Jenkins’ explanation:

“Based on our preaching of the scripture, we would have been in error to allow the service in our church. I’m not trying to condemn anyone’s lifestyle, but at the same time, I am a man of God, and I have to stand up for my principles.”

Evans’ mother, Julie Atwood, adds that she was told that holding a gay, married man’s services at the church would be “blasphemous.” “It was devastating,” Atwood told a local news channel. “I did feel like he was being denied the dignity of death.” She ultimately found another venue for the service with hours to spare; many mourners, unaware of the switch, wound up missing the funeral altogether.

Here are the facts about Evans’ life that were too blasphemous for Jenkins to relay to his congregation. When Evans died, he had been with his husband, Kendall Capers, for 17 years. During the last four of those years, Evans was dying of amyloidosis, a rare, incurable, painful disease that slowly destroys the organs, nervous system, and digestive tract.

Capers took care of Evans through his illness. The two finally wed in Maryland last year, when it was clear that Evans did not have much longer to live.

The decision to cancel a funeral for a gay man has been met with criticism. As a pastor, of course, Jenkins has a constitutional right to deny religious services to anybody he wants. But legal impunity does not exempt Jenkins from moral judgment-and his action is surely one of breathtaking immorality.