For Immediate Release:
Monday, Aug. 13, 2007
HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN STATEMENT ON HIGH POINT CHURCH REFUSAL TO HOLD FUNERAL SERVICE FOR GAY VETERAN
WASHINGTON - High Point Church, a nondenominational congregation in Arlington, Texas, reneged on its original decision to host a funeral service for Cecil Sinclair, a U.S. naval veteran, upon learning that he was openly gay and that his family loved him just as he was. Sinclair, 46, a native of Fort Worth who served his country in Desert Storm by helping rescuers find downed pilots, died on Monday, Aug. 6, from complications following heart surgery. Sinclair was also a singer in the Turtle Creek Chorale. The pastor of High Point Church, the Rev. Gary Simons, brother-in-law of Joel Osteen, nationally known pastor of Houston's Lakewood Church, said, "The church opposes homosexuality, and there was no way a service could be held that appeared to endorse it."
Human Rights Campaign Religion and Faith Director Harry Knox made the following statement today on Simons' decision and subsequent remarks:
"The Human Rights Campaign is shocked at the callous and mean-spirited decision of High Point Church and its pastor, Reverend Gary Simons. We mourn for the family over their loss and at the cruelty of High Point Church and its pastor.
"Reverend Simons' statement that the decision is a matter of policy and not hatred and discrimination is a lie in politically correct clothing. It is not worthy of a man of the cloth. As this decision indicates, the church's policy is to hate and discriminate against gay people. Its actions speak louder than its words. I cannot imagine Jesus turning away from a mourning partner and other family members. Pastor Simons and High Point Church certainly do not reflect the Christ they claim to serve."
HRC's Religion and Faith Program gives voice to the fair-minded faithful opens hearts and minds to new ways of viewing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and effectively works to reclaim the faith-based debate from the intolerant and radical right.
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
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