Ever since North Carolina passed its outrageously discriminatory and outrageously unconstitutional “bathroom bill,” the state’s LGBT community has had a lot of reason to live in fear. In the months after House Bill 2 was rammed through the Republican-dominated legislature in a mere 12 hours, there has been a significant spike in incidents of discrimination against LGBT residents, some of which have turned violent.
Well, add another to the list. An LGBT-friendly Presbyterian church in my hometown of Charlotte was targeted on Wednesday night by vandals who scrawled a Bible passage frequently used to attack gays on a painting.
Caldwell Presbyterian Church, located in Charlotte’s Elizabeth neighborhood just outside downtown, has become well known in recent years for its activism on social issues. The church nearly closed in 2006, but has since experienced a rebirth by embracing a new mission–“God invites. We Welcome. All.” And that “all” extends to anyone, regardless of racial background or sexual orientation.
On Wednesday night, someone saw that diversity as a threat. A vandal smashed out a window in the church’s all-gender restroom, then stole some markers from the kids’ Sunday school room. The bottom-feeder then found a rainbow-colored map of North Carolina and scrawled “1 Corinthians 6:9-11” on it. It’s one of the most common scriptural kicks in the groin fundies use on the LGBT community.
“Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
Apparently these bottom-feeders don’t know that this verse, as it appears in many English Bibles, is a really bad translation. According to Kathy Baldock–best known as the woman who publicly blasted Franklin Graham’s attacks on LGBT kids and youth, as late as the 1940s, one of the Greek words are most commonly translated to refer to homosexuals today–“arsenokoitai”–was understood to refer to pederasty. The other word, “malakoi,” usually referred to weaklings. It was only when state-sponsored homophobia really ramped up in the 1940s that we started seeing those words translated as “homosexual.”
The vandals then scrawled “Leviticus 6:2” and “Luke 12:33-34” on the church doors–verses that refer to theft. That’s rather ironic, considering that their next stop was to steal several items from The Third Place, a nonprofit coffee shop located in the church–including a grinder and several bags of coffee beans.
The theft and vandalism was discovered when The Third Place opened on Thursday morning. Greg Jarrell of QC Family Tree, the nonprofit that runs the coffee shop, suspected that Caldwell was targeted because it was supposedly “in a business it shouldn’t be in.” His reply was that Caldwell was doing something any church worth its salt would do–fulfill a calling to “build a more flourishing culture around us.”
Caldwell’s pastor, John Cleghorn, conceded that the vandalism “doesn’t fit the description of a hate crime.” However, he sees it as “a clear attempt at intimidation.” He and his church don’t intend to back down, however. He vowed that Caldwell would “continue doing what we feel is right.” Rank-and-file church members told WSOC-TV in Charlotte that they have no doubt their church was targeted because it welcomes LGBT worshipers. However, they vowed to keep pressing forward.
As of Friday night, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has not made any arrests. Hopefully an arrest comes soon. Regardless of where you stand on LGBT rights and marriage equality, this is not acceptable. Whoever did this is not a real Christian by any stretch, and needs to have the library thrown at them.
Send Caldwell some love on their Website or their Facebook page. Let’s let them know we stand with them.
(featured image courtesy Caldwell Presbyterian’s Facebook)