Wouldn’t you know it — a Tennessee church has gone and thrown a big steaming pile of Godnastiness all over our nice-time story from a couple weeks back. As you may recall, the Chattanooga suburb of Collegedale became the first city in Tennessee to offer equal benefits to same-sex spouses of its municipal employees, and we all had a nice warm feeling about that. And we all applauded Collegedale police detective Kat Cooper, who had testified in favor of the new law and led the effort to get it passed. And now, Kat Cooper’s mother, Linda, has been expelled from her church for standing with her daughter at the city council meetings.
Oh, Christianists — is there anything you can’t turn into an excuse for ugliness and division in the name of the Prince of Peace?
Linda Cooper didn’t testify in favor of the law. She didn’t campaign for the law. She didn’t speak to the media about the law. She simply sat next to her daughter during the hearings, and held her daughter’s hand. When the measure passed, she hugged her daughter.
And so the leaders of Ridgedale Church of Christ, the congregation that her family has belonged to for over 60 years, called aside Linda Cooper, her brother, and her sister after services last Sunday and issued an ultimatum:
They could repent for their sins and ask forgiveness in front of the congregation. Or leave the church.
“My mother was up here and she sat beside me. That’s it,” said Kat Cooper. “Literally, they’re exiling members for unconditionally loving their children — and even extended family members.”
But the family’s support of Kat Cooper was as good as an endorsement of homosexuality, said Ken Willis, minister at Ridgedale Church of Christ.
“The sin would be endorsing that lifestyle,” Willis said. “The Bible speaks very plainly about that.”
Willis, a father himself, said the church didn’t expect the Cooper family to disown their daughter.
“But you certainly can’t condone that lifestyle, whether it’s any kind of sin — whether they’re shacked up with someone or living in a state of fornication or they’re guilty of crimes,” he said. “You don’t condone it. You still love them as a parent.”
You just have to publicly condemn their sin, and tell the world that your gay child is bound for hell unless they stop being who they are. No doubt Rev. Willis struggled over allowing even that much; were he a real Bible-believing Christian, he’d have insisted on a public execution by stoning.
Hunt Cooper, Kat’s father, spoke for the family, explaining that Linda was distraught over the expulsion and had been crying for days. He said that Linda Cooper’s parents had been among the earliest members of the congregation, and her father had been a church elder.
“This is not just some casual church they dropped in on,” he said.
Hunt Cooper said his family rejects the notion that being gay is a lifestyle choice. And his wife, along with her brother and sister, believed repentance would be hypocritical. So the decision to leave, devastating as it was, was a simple one.
“There’s no sin to repent for,” he said. “And she’s not going to turn her back on her daughter.”
Wonkette extends its congratulations to the Cooper family on their decision to remain human. They’ll be a lot happier that way.
As for Rev. Willis, he says that his church regularly lets members know when they’re not right with God and gives them the choice of repenting or being cast out:
“When a person is in sin they are asked to repent, to make a statement, renouncing their participation in sin.”
While we have no realistic expectation that Rev. Willis will ever get the “You know nothing of my work” lecture from Jesus of Nazareth that he so richly deserves, we would at least like to ask him to consider the example set by another Christian recently. Maybe he’d learn something.