Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hatred in a Lovely Church

As I watched that hideous video showing Pastor Charles Worley's recent headline-grabbing rants about penning gays and lesbians inside miles-long electrified corrals until they die, I couldn't help but notice his surroundings. (Okay, go and watch it if you haven't seen it.  But then come back and we'll talk.)

He preaches his particular style of self-righteous, good ol' boy hate from the pulpit of the Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, NC.  This is not a store-front or a rustic, backwoods building, it's a beautiful traditional church, obviously designed and built with the prospect of honoring the Christian God.

If you could turn off the sound and watch this man Worley as he clutches his bible and moves around his pulpit, you might be lulled into thinking you were watching a man of God preaching in God's house.  No such thing exists in that building posing as a church.

Picture a wedding in that space (a wedding between straight white adults, of course--proof of intelligence apparently not required), a baptism (poor baby), a funeral (I'm not going there).  Many loving hands keep that interior pristine and lovely.  Deep pockets provide the heavy-duty funding necessary to keep the building maintained.  All so that their chosen pastor can step to the front on a Sunday morning and propose a final solution for lesbians and gays.

A group called the Catawba Valley Citizens against Hate is planning a peaceful protest at Providence Road Baptist on Sunday, May 27.  They're trying to organize the rally on Facebook and I'm trying to help them by posting the link here.  (Please pass it on.)

This is how those good people want it to go: 
Reminder: This event is a peaceful protest organized in the ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King and Gandhi. All participants of this direct action must vow to remain peaceful and non-violent. We will not scream, shout or taunt Pastor Worley or his church's members. We will not vandalize, threaten or injury property or persons. We will allow law enforcement to handle harassment and disputes that may arise. Protest Peace Keepers will be in charge and will provide instructions. If you cannot vow to remain peaceful & non-violent, then this event may not be for you.
If you're going to be anywhere near that area in North Carolina, please help them out.  Huge crowds of peacekeeping activists would be great, but if you can't get there (as most of us can't) let's show our support by visiting their Facebook page to cheer them on. 

 (By the way, please don't confuse the Providence Road Church with the Providence Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC.  They don't like that.  With good reason.)

(Also, if you Google Providence Road Church and click on the link to their website, it'll take you to a dead end.  They've flown the coop.  So much for pride in their accomplishments.)

(UPDATE 5/27:  Anderson Cooper interviews a Worley defender.  You have to see it to believe it.  http://youtu.be/ez0AMf2U5RU )


  1. Synchronicity can be such a bitch. Today in the mail I got a plea from Toni Morrison to donate to the Southern Poverty Law Center. (Mercifully I'll be able to toss a few bucks their way.) I thought years ago when I was a young thing that hate was ebbing. After all, Jim Crow had been crippled, the Stonewall riot happened in my former home town, thousands and thousands of us marched on Washington about the war, and the world seemed to feel a bit more open.

    That was all in the 60s, when I was in my 20s. Now that I’m in my late 60s I feel the world closing in again, and the tide of hatred rising. It horrifies, infuriates and deeply saddens me. And I simply CANNOT wrap my mind around the concept that hatred can be preached in a place that purports to be Christian.

    Perhaps Pastor Worley should come and visit my little Episcopal parish down here in Savannah. Our Senior Warden, Marsha, lives with her Significant Other, Omelia, while they raise their adopted son Rashawn who has severe cerebral palsy. Nothing would make me happier than celebrating Marsha and Omelia’s marriage, but my denomination isn’t quite there yet. Or maybe Pastor Worley would prefer to come to the 12:30 Spanish Mass…

    I try very, very, very hard not to hate but people like “Pastor” Worley make it hard.

    Thanks for your post.

    Marion in Savannah

    1. Marion, your church sounds like soothing balm for heavy hearts, and that's what churches, if they're honest, should be striving for.

      How we came to accept churches that spew hate instead of preaching tolerance is a mystery to me. But the real mystery is how they draw audiences large enough to sustain their "churches". It terrifies me when I think of the numbers of people who are willing to follow that path--and do it in a church.

      I think this country needs a rock-hard definition of a "church". Seems easy enough to me. (But I'm no longer a church-goer so what do I know?) If hatred and intolerance are the norm they're not a church and they can't claim the benefits befitting a real church, including staying tax-free.

      In fact, we'll fine them if they stray from the rules we set up. . .

      Oh, wait a minute. . .separation of church and state. . .

      Never mind.

      But seriously, if the normal world would just shun them and/or call them on their behavior they would eventually have to go away. I think.

  2. (I'm really not a stalker!)

    Teh Great Gazoogle served up this little item:


    Apparently in 1978 he was all for hanging gay folks from a white oak tree, so I guess he's gone all soft and fuzzy because now he only wants to fence them in...

    Marion in Savannah

    1. Hoo Boy! Let's just spread that manure everywhere we can, shall we?

      (And don't worry about being a stalker. I love it when I get company over here.)

      Do you know about Fred Clark at Slacktivist? He found my blog somewhere and usually promotes it whenever I talk about anything having to do with religion. He mentions the 1978 sermon, too.


      (If you haven't read him before, he's worth a look. Very wise--and funny, too.)


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