Westboro Baptist may feel that gay people deserve to die and go to Hell, but New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa, Florida doesn’t even believe LGBT individuals deserve to be buried.
The day before Julion Evans’ funeral was scheduled, his mother received a phone call from the pastor. Because her son was gay, she was told, the church was canceling the funeral. “It was devastating,” Julie Atwood, Evans’ mother, told NBC. “I did feel like he was being denied the dignity of death.”
The church came to this decision after noticing that Evans’ obituary listed a surviving husband. Atwood says she was told it would be “blasphemous” to hold the service.
T.W. Jenkins, the church’s pastor, said he was unaware Evans was gay or had a husband until members of the congregation saw the obituary and called to complain.
“Based on our preaching of the scripture, we would have been in error to allow the service in our church,” Jenkins said. “I’m not trying to condemn anyone’s lifestyle, but at the same time, I am a man of God, and I have to stand up for my principles.”
“Everyone who knew us knew about our relationship,” Kendall Capers, Evans’ husband, said. “We didn’t keep secrets.” The two were together for 17 years and finally married in Maryland last year. Evans suffered a long and painful battle with Amyloidosis, which destroys organs in the body.
Evans’ family hurriedly made alternative funeral arrangements, but were unable to notify all who wished to pay their respects of the change, causing them to miss the funeral.
“This is 2014, this is not the 60s or the 70s,” Capers said. “So at the end of the day I just want his wrong-doing to be exposed.”