Imagining having lost someone that you loved dearly. Imagine the pain and suffering that you go through attending the funeral, to see them one last time before you close the casket and bury them. If you’re human, you probably don’t have to imagine this: the loss of loved ones is a feature of our existence.
Now imagine the minister overseeing the funerary service ordering the ceremony stopped, because he couldn’t tolerate the fact that your loved one was gay.
Welcome to “religious freedom.”
This was the experience of the friends and family of Vanessa Colliers. The pastor overseeing the funeral of Vanessa Colliers at New Hope Ministries, Ray Chavez, said that he was unable to continue the funeral as long as pictures of Collier with her spouse and two children, were displayed. Chavez said that there couldn’t be any pictures of Collier with her wife, Christina; there had to be no indication that Collier was gay.
The family and loved ones were forced to pick up the programs, the flowers, and eventually the casket itself that contained the 33-year-old woman, and move it across the street to a mortuary that was willing to continue the service. They said there was barely enough room to stand in the Newcomer Funeral Home.
Friend Victoria Quintana said “It was humiliating,” and “It was devastating.”
Friends say they gave the church a remembrance video of Collier a week before that contained images of her kissing and embracing her wife. The pastor, they said, had every chance to stop it before it even started. Instead, Chavez stopped it after the hour-long viewing and the memorial service was 15 minutes underway, according to those in attendance.
What’s more, Chavez still hasn’t reimbursed the family, either.
Jeanette Arguello, a friend, was in disbelief: “A church turning away a funeral. Who has ever heard of anything like that happening?”
A representative for the church hung up on a reporter for the Denver Post on Tuesday. According to the website, Chavez founded it in 1981 with his wife Lola, as a place “where those bound by drugs, alcohol, gangs and violence can find an ‘Ounce of Hope.’ ”
Collier lived in Thornton, and is survived by her spouse, and her two daughters, 7 and 11. She died on December 30, and New Hope Ministries was chosen for the memorial service because of it’s location.
For being a pastor, you’d think this joke of a wretched little man would be more familiar with the “Good Samaritan” parable, but what’s the Bible mean when there’s a political point to be made?
Source: Denver Post