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Funeral for gay man canceled: Pastor sticks by his decision after uproar

Pastor of Tampa church causes uproar over canceling funeral for a gay man.
Pastor of Tampa church causes uproar over canceling funeral for a gay man.
FightingRaven531/Wikimedia Commons

A church canceled a funeral for a gay man in Florida, and the cancellation has people in an uproar on the Internet. Pastor T.W. Jenkins decided to cancel the service set to be held at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church last month because some of his parishioners expressed outrage over the fact that the man being buried was gay. This fact was learned after the obituary in the local newspaper named another man as his spouse. The Advocate shared Jenkins' latest comments about his decision on Aug. 11.

Julion Evans died last month after a battle with amyloidosis, which is a rare illness that destroys the internal organs of the body. His mother learned that her son's funeral services were canceled by the church less than 24 hours before they were to be held. She was told the church canceled the service because it would be "blasphemous" for the service to be held due to Evans' sexual orientation. Atwood and her family attended the church for years. Her son did not attend the church, but Jenkins' first agreed to hold the service when asked by Atwood.

Julia Atwood had to find another location to hold her son's service, and the quick change caused some people to miss the funeral entirely. Atwood said the following about finding out about the decision by her church:

"It was devastating. I did feel like he was being denied the dignity of death."

Jenkins' did speak out about his decision in an interview with a local Tampa television station, and he is sticking by his decision. He would not do anything different. In his church, he preaches against same-sex marriage. He said the following:

"I don't hate gay people. It would have been more of a negative response to hold the funeral than to cancel it."

The cancellation has caused a huge uproar on the Internet though. People have been talking about this story recently, and it has caused heated debate on both sides. Julion Evans spent 17 years with his partner, Kendall Capers. The couple married in Maryland just last year. Capers said he wanted Jenkins' "wrongdoing to be exposed" after the cancellation. The world now knows about this cancellation, so he succeeded in getting the word out.

In fact, one organization is now going after Jenkins because of the cancellation. Faithful America is demanding an apology from Jenkins. The organization posted a message on its website condemning the pastor for his actions. The start of the message reads as follows:

"Julie Atwood was at her son's wake, standing next to his casket, when she got the news: The church was canceling the funeral because her son was gay. Rev. T.W. Jenkins of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa, Florida, told Julie that he'd read in the newspaper obituary that her son was married to another man and decided that holding the funeral would be 'blasphemous.'"

The organization is hoping to show the world that not all Christians feel as Jenkins' does in this instance. Will they succeed in their quest for an apology? That is not likely. The pastor is standing by his decision. It is too late to hold the funeral at Jenkins' church, but the situation is still making headlines today.