If you thought the homophobic rants from Bishop Alfred Owens that caught media attention in 2006 and was extensively reported on loldarian.com would cease after he was forced to apologize then you were wrong, but thankfully one couple decided not to accept Owens' homophobia and walked out.
Jon Mack and his partner, Michael Garrett tells DC Agenda "they were startled and deeply hurt when Bishop Alfred Owens, the church pastor, appeared to be sending them and other same-sex couples a blunt message Jan. 3."
“Sex is only pleasing to God in the marriage bed, and the marriage bed is a man and … a woman!” Owens shouted from the pulpit, with hundreds in the church pews shouting their approval, according to accounts by Mack and Garrett.
“If marriage wasn’t between a man and a woman, you wouldn’t be here because two men doing it don’t produce no kids,” Owens said. “And two women doing it don’t produce no kids! It’s all about family,” he said as members of the congregation continued to clap and cheer.
“During this homophobic rant, me and my partner got up and walked out,” said Mack, 28.
“What hurt me more than what he said is how the congregation yelled and agreed with him,” Mack said. “It showed me that people that don’t even know me hate me just because of my sexuality.”
Garrett said his initial reaction upon hearing Owens’ hostile references to gays in the Jan. 3 sermon was to blame himself for continuing to attend Greater Mount Calvary services, despite the reports from friends and acquaintances that Owens is hostile to gays.
“Since going there for the past year, I never heard anything out of the way like that,” Garrett said. “So a lot of it was inspirational up until that point. And it kind of took me aback. … And then due to the fact that Jon and I are together and we’re going to see about getting married in D.C., it really was like, ‘Why am I supporting this person? How come I couldn’t see this beforehand?’”
Bishop Owens came under intense scrutiny from the LGBT community and its allies during a Palm Sunday sermon in 2006 when he "called for all of the real men to approach the altar, "NOT NO FAGGOTS OR NO SISSIES, BUT SOME REAL MEN". Audio of that sermon can be heard here.
His references to gays in the sermon prompted LGBT activists to ask then D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams to expel Owens from a mayoral task force on faith. In response, Owens issued an apology, which prompted Williams to announce he would retain the minister on the faith task force.
In January 2008 loldarian.com received an e-mail from a gay member of Greater Mt. Calvary alerting us to an outing of over 100 gay choir members and a subsequent meeting held by Bishop Owens offering help to those who wished to convert to heterosexuality.
A leopard never changes his spots. But thankfully, these men did the right thing and walked out of a church that were doing more harm than good. I wish we could all be so bold.
The couple has created a Facebook group to spark a discussion and to encourage the end of homophobia in churches.