Earlier this year, New Jersey passed a law requiring public schools to include the contributions of LGBTQ people in the curriculum wherever it was appropriate. It really wasn’t that drastic of a law. It was more about making sure students received a comprehensive education instead of one that systematically excluded certain people.
Pastor Ed McKelvey wasn’t a fan. In a sermon he gave to the Christian Life Center church in July, McKelvey denounced the law as “very, very, very sad.”
Then it got worse.
He complained about what would happen if homosexuality entered schools:
… I got a phone call this week that the Supreme Court of the state of New Jersey just heard a case where it’s now legal, they say it’s legal, for a brother and a sister to marry each other in the state of New Jersey. A brother and a sister! Incest! They have lived together for years, and they heard this case, and the Supreme Court ruled in their favor. They say the next thing coming up is a father and a daughter.
When you let homosexuality in, it opens the door to complete perversion and the church has to — we have to do our job and stand up. Stand up to it.
That’s… a lie. He’s referring to an article that first appeared on a satirical website. (It’s not surprising that a guy who accepts the Bible as true can’t tell fact from fiction.)
Then, referring to how the new law was meant to help kids get comfortable in their own skin, McKelvey remarked, “Well, when you start teaching them the confused stuff, they don’t know what skin they have!” So LGBTQ people are all apparently confused.
This isn’t all that shocking coming from a Christian pastor. We’re used to their bigotry.
The reason this has become a full-fledged controversy is because McKelvey also happens to be the mayor of Alloway Township. Many in the town now want him to step down because no mayor should see his own constituents as “confused” or perverted just because they’re LGBTQ.
At an Alloway Township committee meeting on Sept. 19, several residents spoke out against the mayor’s comments, and are asking for him to resign.
“It made me really angry what he was saying and I thought it was completely unacceptable for a leader in a community to be saying what he was saying,” said Laurie McGuire, an Alloway Township resident.
John Wagner, a resident of Alloway Township who is currently running for a seat on the committee, said the video of McKelvey’s sermon was “concerning.” He said the language used in the video is not what most people would want to hear from someone in a position of power.
“It makes it hard to believe that he will fairly…listen to everyone,” Wagner said. “There needs to be some standard of how you’re going to represent yourself because you’re representing the town as well.”
This isn’t a legal issue; it’s an ethical one. No one’s suing the town since McKelvey was speaking as a pastor, not as the mayor. But when a mayor is open about his personal bigotry, it can’t just be ignored.
This past Thursday, the calls for his resignation got even louder.
Several others called for the mayor to resign.
“I believe that your bigotry prevents you from effectively representing in Alloway Township,” resident Amy Smith said.
“It paints us as a bigoted place that no reasonable person would want to move to,” she said. “We need new residents. We need new businesses to move to town. We need those tax dollars to keep our towns strong. We have a moral imperative to be a township where all people…feel welcome and affirmed.“
McKelvey insisted he wouldn’t step down over this, suggesting that people were taking his words out of context. (They were not. We have the video. This isn’t a matter of misinterpretation.)
“I want to thank all the people that truly know me,” the mayor said during the meeting. “We must be very careful with the words that we say because they can be twisted, misunderstood, and sometimes misinterpreted intentionally.”
Nothing was twisted. McKelvey gave a sermon we’ve heard many times before, treating LGBTQ people as targets for conversion in order to bring them more in line with God’s wishes. There’s no charitable interpretation of what he said.
He only apologized for treating the satirical article as fact.
Even when he defended his own comments, he just dug his own hole even deeper.
“I said children are confused,” McKelvey said. “These kids can’t decide whether they like red or blue and we’re going to throw something else in there that’s very complicated that these young children don’t need to be taught about.”
This law isn’t teaching kids how to be gay. There’s no multiple choice exam in the works where kids have to “choose” their gender identity. The law merely calls for schools to teach kids that Harvey Milk played an important role in our nation’s recent history, just to name one example. There’s only one person confused here and that’s the mayor.
He’s not being asked to resign because he’s Christian. It’s because he can’t be trusted to do the right thing on behalf of all of his constituents. The only good news is that he doesn’t have the power to overturn the law. Students will get a better education in spite of McKelvey’s desire to suppress information.
(Thanks to Kelly for the link)