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Homosexuality and the Pentecostal movement

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The United Pentecostal Church International:

The United Pentecostal Church traces its roots back to 1916-OCT, when a group of pastors left the Assemblies of God. They are a fundamentalist denomination, which is part of the Pentecostal family of Christian denominations.

Their General Conference adopted a very brief Position Paper on Homosexuality in 1977. It made a number of points:
bullet They do not approve of liberal groups within Christianity who are accepting "the so-called 'gay-rights' movement as a legitimate lifestyle."

bullet They interpret Romans 1 as declaring that homosexuality is "vile, unnatural, unseemly and an abomination in the sight of God."

bullet They condemn homosexuality as a "moral decadence and sin"

bullet They encourage people to pray for "the deliverance of those enslaved by that satanic snare."

The Biblical passage to which they are referring is Romans 1:26-27. It contains a Greek phrase "para physin" which is commonly translated into the English word "unnatural". This is an error. Unnatural implies that the act is morally condemned. In Greek, the phrase really means "that which is beyond the ordinary and usual." "Unconventional" would have been a better match in English to the original Greek. In 1 Corinthians 11:14, when Paul refers to long hair on men as unusual and not ordinary, he used the same two words. A full interpretation of this passage is available.

They do not indicate whether they condemn only homosexual behavior, or whether they also reject homosexual orientation as well. The paper was written in 1977, when people knew much less about sexual orientation than they do today.

Their restoration doctrine normally allows any pastor who is guilty of a major sin to be reinstated. However, Article VII, Section 9, Paragraphs 2-3, of the UPCI Manual prohibits a fallen minister who is guilty of a sexual sin from being restored to the ministry:

"Any minister affiliated with our organization proven guilty of adultery or fornication, or committing any other immoral offense shall forfeit his or her papers immediately...Such minister shall never be qualified for reinstatement into the ministry of the United Pentecostal Church."

We assume that homosexual behavior would be an "immoral offense." 

A common theme mentioned by many Pentecostals is that a homosexual orientation is caused by an indwelling demonic spirit, and that exorcism is the only meaningful treatment.

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1997 lawsuit alleging slander:

Rhonda J. Morrison and Cynthia A. Gass of Tulsa, OK, launched a civil suit against Rev. Ernest G. Bass, the local First United Pentecostal Church, the Oklahoma District of the United Pentecostal Church International and its superintendent, Robert D. Whalen. Allegedly, Rev. Bass allegedly had told the congregation during an evening worship service on 1994-JUL-10 that Morrison, the church's music director, was a lesbian who was engaged in an affair with an unidentified woman.

According to testimony, Ms. Morrison's husband, Steve Martens, had gone for counseling with Rev. Bass, because of sexual problems within the marriage. Bass reportedly asked Martens whether his wife was a lesbian. Martens later asked for permission from the church to get a divorce. He allegedly believed that his wife was having an affair with another woman. In order to obtain proof of an affair, Martens hired a private detective. He later challenged his wife who reportedly confessed to the lesbian affair. However, Ms. Morrison later testified in court that she had never confessed to an affair. Both Morrison and Gass have said they are only platonic friends; they both believe that homosexual behavior is wrong.

The defense allegedly attempted to prove that:

bullet Bass' statement was true, and thus could not be considered slander.

bullet Bass' speech should receive "ecclesiastical immunity" under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

bullet In today's culture, it is no longer slander to call someone a homosexual. Homosexuals are generally accepted in society.

The plaintiffs won the lawsuit and were each awarded each were awarded $20,000 for slander, $150,000 for invasion of privacy and $2 for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Additional defendants, including Martens and other church members who spread the rumors had settled out of court before the trial.

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Gay-positive Pentecostal groups:

bullet The Rock of Christ Church of Little Rock, AR, is "A Progressive Pentecostal Church with an Outreach to the Gay and Lesbian Community. Teaching an Acts 2:38 Message for Whosoever!" 3

bullet Apostolic Intercessory Ministry (AIM) is an "Apostolic Pentecostal Organization interceding on the behalf of the Gay and Lesbian Community." 7 It is an outreach program of Apostolic Restoration Mission. They have modified a discussion of homosexuality in the Bible from the class: Ministry in the 20th Century, which was part of the Ministerial Training Course at Pentecostal Bible Institute, in Ferndale, Michigan. 14

bullet The National Gay Pentecostal Alliance was organized in 1980 as a Pentecostal group open to persons of all sexual orientations. Co-founder Rev. William H. Carey wrote in 1993:

"Given the intense homophobic nature of most Pentecostal denominations, setting up any type of organization within any of those bodies, or even comprised of members of any of those bodies, was not possible. Open homosexuals are not tolerated in Pentecostal churches. Some are excommunicated. Those are the lucky ones."

"Prior to being forced to leave the United Pentecostal Church, I was subjected to two exorcisms in an effort to change my sexual orientation. (Of course, nothing happened, but I was traumatized enough that I nearly gave up on God.) A UPC minister tried to convince me that I would (should) take my own life, and then tried to blackmail me. There are even worse horror stories concerning the treatment of openly gay/lesbian people in Pentecostal churches, but I think you get the idea. Creating an independent Pentecostal denomination was our only option at the time." 4

They later merged with the Apostolic Intercessory Ministry  to create the Apostolic Restoration Mission. 11

bullet

The Fellowship of Reconciling Pentecostals International (RPI) was co-founded by Rev. Robert Morgan and Rev. Douglas E. Clanton during 2000-JUN. It is "a small network of Pentecostal ministers and churches..." 5,6 Their bylaws state that they provide:

"... a social climate that encourages and supports monogamous relationships and solid family units ... [and , a] 'city of refuge' for the healing of those who have been abused and hurt in other churches."

Their facebook page describes RPI to be:

"... a network of Pentecostal ministers, churches, and ministries which seek to reconcile all repentant people to God without regard to race, gender, sexual orientation or age, etc." 12

Their mission statement states that they are:

"... a network of Pentecostal ministers, churches and ministries which seeks by means of the full gospel of Jesus Christ to reconcile all repentant people to God without regard to race, gender, political persuasion, economic or educational status, sexual orientation, nationality, religious affiliation, or any other thing that divides. The RPI provides wounded apostolics an affirming home among those of 'like precious faith', and a safety net for those in personal, family, or religious crisis."

Randy Duncan, Chief Presiding Presbyter of RPI writes:

"Since its inception in 2000, RPI strives to be a home for all disenfranchised Pentecostals for whatever reason and wherever you find yourself at this present time. Our goal is to assist those who are struggling or confused in understanding where they really stand with God.

We all know that the traditional Pentecostal church has misunderstood and often been quite offensive with their approach to gay people and the subject of homosexuality. And, though we vehemently disagree with that position, we realize most of us came from that same mindset, but now understand that God does have gay children.

Unless God is allowed to reveal the Truth on this matter to our pastor or even our family, we are better off and more productive moving on --taking a positive stand ---and then assisting those who are ready to hear the 'really good news'!" 13

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References:

  1. The official home page of the UPCI is at: http://www.upci.org/ 
  2. Their statement on homosexuality is at: http://www.upci.org/about/doctrine/homosexuality.cfm
  3. The Rock of Christ Church is located at 1601 Louisiana, Little Rock, Arkansas 72202 Telephone: (501)375-8054. Pastor is Darryl Goss. Their E-mail address is ARROC@prodigy.net. Their web site is at: http://littlerock.about.com/
  4. The Rev. William H. Carey & Rev. LaDonna C. Briggs, Edited by James D. Anderson, "The National Gay Pentecostal Alliance," at: http://www.outspirit.org/ This URL is no longer active.
  5. Sharon Tubbs, "Gay Pentecostals find a place to worship: Adapting the traditions of one of Christianity's most conservative sects, a Tampa church offers services where charismatic beliefs and homosexuality can co-exist." St. Petersburg Times, 2001-JUL-22, at: http://www.pottershousefellowship.com/spt072201.htm
  6. The Fellowship of Reconciling Pentecostals International (RPI) has a web site at: http://www.reconcilingpentecostals.com/ They can be contacted at: Reconciling Pentecostals Int'l,  Rev. Dan Wright, Secretary, 5257 N Cameron, LaPorte, IN 46350.
  7. Apostolic Intercessory Ministry (AIM) states that they are "available for Anointed Teaching and Preaching." Their web site is at: http://www.apostolicrestorationmission.4t.com/id28.htm They also help "new non-established churches or established churches to grow up into properly equipped saints according to Ephesians 4:11-15."
  8. "Rhonda Morrison's UPC Experience," at: http://www.spiritualabuse.org/
  9. "Minister claimed immunity," Associated Press, 1997-DEC-15, at: http://www.ardmoreite.com/
  10. Brian Barber, "Tulsa Minister, Church Sued for Slander. Intentional Emotional Distress Claimed," Tulsa World, Tulsa, OK, 1997-DEC-5. Online at:  http://www.rickross.com/
  11. The Apostolic Restoration Mission continues to have a positive outreach to the gay and lesbian community. See: http://www.apostolicrestorationmission.4t.com/
  12. "About," Fellowship of Reconciling Pentecostals International's Facebook page, at: http://www.facebook.com/
  13. "About us," Fellowship of Reconciling Pentecostals International," at: http://rpifellowship.com/
  14. "A biblically based study on homosexuality in the Bible," Pentecostal Bible Institute, 1966, at: http://www.apostolicrestorationmission.4t.com/

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Copyright © 1996 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2012-FEB-28
Author: B.A. Robinson

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