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Priest waiting for a sign in church

Source: FangXiaNuo / Getty

The Black church is in trouble y’all. I say that as someone who grew up in and still regularly attends a Black church. And while I feel like I’ve found a place that is progressive, loving and welcoming, there are far too many examples of Black churches giving the entire Christian faith a bad name—simply because they refuse to upload the principles of Christ—chief among them being love.

There was an example of this most recently from a church in Chicago, Illinois, called Power House International Ministries, when Pastor Antonio Rocquemore asked someone he presumed to be a “man” dressed in women’s clothing to leave his sanctuary.

In front of the congregation, Rocquemore said to the 16-year-old, “Can you leave my church and go put on man clothes? And don’t come here like that no more.”

Nothing could appropriately describe the vitriol Rocquemore unleashed, so I’ll just let it transcribe it below along with the video. *Trigger warning* he uses the F-word in the clip, ironically suggesting that he doesn’t call people that.

“You standing behind this blue pole. Yeah you. Can you step out in the aisle please? Can you leave my church and go put on man clothes. And don’t come here like that no more. I hold a standard in here. Whatever you do on the outside, is your business. But I will not let drag queens come in here. If y’all gone come in here, you gon’ dress like a man. When you come in this house, if you’re a man, dress like a man. If you’re a woman, dress like a woman.

I’m not going to allow it. My salvation is more important and God is holding me accountable. Now, whatever you do outside these doors, I don’t bash, I don’t judge. But when you come in here, you will not be a drag queen. If the Holy Ghost tells me in my spirit that it’s drag queens, sitting in here with wigs on, I will ask you to be removed from this sanctuary. I don’t care if you don’t clap and you don’t like it, don’t come here. You will not be playing in wigs and heels and fooling people up in here. I got the Holy Ghost for real, I can pick your spirit up from the back of the church. If you don’t know me, don’t come here and play with me. I can pick your spirit up. That’s a man, that’s not a woman.

You’ve got to respect the rule of the house. They may allow it at other churches but if I know you a man with a wig on, I’m either going to snatch that wig off, or you got to get up out of here. Cuz as for me as my house…Y’all ain’t talking. Anybody that know my preaching, you know I don’t call f*gs. I don’t do no bashing because everybody is struggling with something. But what I’m not going to do is allow you to disrespect the house of God. You can spread this all over the world and tell every drag to come and try me. Cuz I stand for holiness…Don’t come here throwing no wig and you a man…I knew something was messing with my spirit. Now other churches will go for it because they like to compromise mess. That’s why the Holy Ghost can’t dwell there. The spirit and the real authentic oil can’t dwell where you’re compromising mess…Holiness is still right.”

You can watch Pastor Rocquemore’s full remarks in the video below.

Later, in another video, he shared that he made the decision to confront this 16-year-old publicly because he had had several conversations with this person about attire and Rocquemore felt the teenager was challenging him by continuing to dress in women’s clothing.

In an interview with the Christian Post, Christian James Lhuillier said this type of confrontation is the reason so many young, Black people have distanced themselves from the church.

“Some of y’all are going to have to excuse my language but I am tired of this sh*t. In a place that is supposed to be a place of change, a place of deliverance, whatever you want to call it why would you destroy someone in front of a room full of people? This is the kind of bullsh*t that causes people to go home and commit suicide. Sh*t like this is the reason that the church has no power in 2018 because they are so worried about the wrong things. I know drag queens and transsexuals that can pray you out of sickness faster and some of these preachers that collect your love offerings every Sunday.”

If you’ve read anything we’ve published here, you already know I agree. There was nothing Christian or loving about this Pastor’s remarks to this teenager.

I’ve been in church where a congregant literally cursed at the pastorm during service, in the sanctuary. And the confrontation was still done with more love than what I witnessed here, from a man claiming to be led by the spirit. The Holy Spirit doesn’t direct you to publicly shame or embarrass someone, a teenager, for dressing in a way you—not God—deem inappropriate.

Not only was this done without love, Pastor Rocquemore wasn’t entirely truthful about his spirit telling him there was a “drag queen” in his congregation. Based on his own account, he’d met with and discussed attire with this teen on several occasions. He knew what this person looked like. There was no need for a supernatural intervention.

All of it was wrong and sadly, it may be the last time this person steps into another church, hoping to avoid the embarrassment and rejection they felt at the Power House International Ministries.

You can see what other people had to say about the interaction on the following pages.

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