HRC is condemning the decision of the pastor of a Baptist church in Tampa, Fla., for his shocking decision to cancel the funeral of Julion Evans after learning he was gay.
According to Evans' mother, Julie Atwood, who spoke with a reporter at a local NBC affiliate, Pastor T.W. Jenkins of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church canceled her son's funeral the day before the service was to have taken place. Jenkins reportedly called Atwood, who was at her son's wake at the time, after reading in Evans' obituary that he had a partner and husband of 17 years.
The decision was "devastating" Atwood told NBC and denied her son, who married Kendal Capers four years ago in Maryland, dignity in death.
"Pastor Jenkins' action is indeed devastating, not only to his grieving mother and husband, but to LGBT faithful, their families and supporters across the country, who are seeking to end discrimination perpetuated by some church leaders," said Rev. MacArthur Flourney, HRC's Director of Faith Partnerships and Mobilization.
"As someone who ministered a congregation and has counseled families after a tragic loss, the actions of this pastor seem nothing short of spiritual violence," Flourney said. "Scripture teaches us that above all else we should love God and neighbor. There is nothing loving in the behavior of this pastor."
Recent polling indicates that 86 percent of Christians believe that the tenets of their faith compel them to support protections for LGBT people under the law, a positive movement towards equality.