A Florida mother says a church canceled her son's funeral after finding out he was gay. Julie Atwood tells WFLA TV that her son Julion Evans' funeral was to be held at New Missionary Hope Baptist Church in Tampa when the church called her during his wake, the night before the funeral, to cancel. She was told the service would be "blasphemous" because Evans, 42, was gay.
"It was devastating," she said. "I did feel like he was being denied the dignity of death."
Evans died last month after a 4-year battle with Amyloidosis, a rare illness that destroys organs in the body.
Kendall Caper, Evans' husband of 4 years, says the news was shocking because they never kept their relationship a secret. "Everyone who knew us knew about our relationship," he said. "We didn't keep secrets." The church’s pastor, Dr. T.W. Jenkins, his congregants called to complain about the scheduled service. He explained:
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.
Capers said he would have understood if the church had explained their position from the outset. But giving the family only 24 hours to find an alternative location was “disrespectful” and “wrong.” The family ended up holding the service at the funeral home where they held the wake.
What do you think? Does the church have the right to not hold funeral services for gay members?