A House Divided

A Colorado Springs pastor shakes up his church with a mission to rid it of homophobia

| April 21, 2005

Colorado Springs is the last place you'd expect to find the Reverend Benjamin Reynolds, who has chosen to speak out against homophobia. The military town is home to Focus on the Family -- the behemoth conservative Christian powerbroker -- and Colorado boasts the two lawmakers who introduced a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in the U.S. House and Senate.

What's more, Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church, with a tightly knit African-American congregation, is the very sort of place the Christian right has found allies in its campaign against gay marriage. But as Laura Bond reports in the Denver alternative weekly Westword, Reynolds believes he was called to speak out against 'sexual oppression' in the church.

'I'm planting seeds right now,' Reynolds says of his Bible study series on 'The Black Church and Sexuality.' During the weekly classes, parishioners have been asked to respond to questionnaires as if they were gay, challenge their traditional interpretations of Scripture, even watch as a black, gay Christian man stomped on the Bible in an effort to prove the book was not God.

The pews thinned out in the process, especially after Reynolds invited a lesbian preacher to give a Sunday sermon. Reynolds remains dedicated, however, and while many in the church may not be sold on his ideas, they're giving him the benefit of the doubt and still showing up.

'I see myself as someone who challenges sexual oppression,' he told the group during one class. 'I could use your support. But if you don't agree with me and you don't want to support me, say a prayer for me.'
-- Hannah Lobel

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