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I will not tell a lie: I laughed my stomach muscles tight at the video of the young man testifying about getting delivered from homosexuality at the Church of God in Christ’s (COGIC) 107th convocation.

If you haven’t seen it, you must, or else, all of this will sound really horrible (And yes, I am fully aware that for some folks out there, it still sounds terrible even after having seen the video. But humor the rest of us…).

It begins with a 22-year-old man, dressed impeccably I might add, in a printed sports jacket, blue shirt and canary yellow bowtie with matching pocket square, who has been called down to the altar, by Bishop Brandon Porter.

As the young man waves his hands and fidgets about impatiently, Bishop Porter says to him, “Whatever it is you need to do, He just told you it is done right now. What did you come down here for? Tell me.”

In response, the young man tells him, “I came to be deliveredt more.” And yes, he said delivered with a “t.”

As the early Sunday morning organ plays in the background, the pastor asks the young man to turn around and tell the congregation what he believed the Lord was delivering him from that night. The young man twirls around on his heels and with jubilation that can only come from being “deliveredt more,” he joyfully tells the congregation:

“I’m not gay no more!”

He then pauses for a few moments, perhaps for applause or to quell the internal struggle. If it was the latter, the battle must have been an intense one as somewhere in the midst of his newfound salvation, his speech begins to fluctuate from angelic to demonic. Fighting Beelzebub with all of his might, the newly-delivered man adds, “I am delivered! I don’t like mens-es no more! I said I like womens! Womens, womens, womens [inaudible]….I am not gay! I will not date a mens! I will not carry a purse! I will not put makeup on my face! I will love a womens!”

A womens.

Bishop Porter thanked the saved man for his testimony, gave him a $100 bill and told him more blessings were coming his way. And that’s when the rest of the congregation got up and joined him in the electric slide – because I swear, if this didn’t look like a Tyler Perry flick…

Now, I don’t want to get into this entire conversation to only to fall into a debate over one’s ability to be “deliveredt” by God from homosexuality – but I do want to say something: No! In fact, hell no, to get more to the point. I do believe sexuality is fluid and people are capable of loving more than one gender at the same time. But I don’t believe that a higher power would be looking to heal something that He basically created within human beings in the first place. I mean, He better not be focusing on that, what with so much other stuff happening in the world that is in need of salvation.

Like the poor. And the famished. And those stuck in war zones. And those barely surviving under tyranny, imperialism and other systematic oppression. And sick and deformed babies. And the polar bears floating on the last remaining polar ice caps. I better not get to the pearly gates and have St. Peter tell me God hadn’t been working on any of the prayers I sent to Him about the aforementioned because he was too busy being all up in everybody’s sexual lives like His name was Pearl from “227.” If that is the kind of God He is, no wonder the planet is in shambles.

But again, that’s not this debate. What I want to talk about is why none of this is particularly funny, although it is kind of funny.

What I mean is that if this was some sort of parody video of what we know happens in church, then by all means, let’s have ourselves some hearty chuckles. But this is real life, and this really happened. And worse, it also means that there are children not only being indoctrinated with this level of unnecessary hate, but certain grown folks with long roots within the church being oppressed by this as well. Quite frankly, that scares the crap out of me. And it is also very weird.

It’s weird that the church can’t bring itself to make amends with some of its most loyal and dedicated flock: the LGBTQ community. As the website Pimp Preacher wants to remind us of the necessity of the video, “this year Church of God in Christ Convocation appeared at times like a ‘coming out party’ for members of the gay community.” In other words, he’s saying the COGIC community has become an on-the-low haven for gay men.

As such,COGIC Superintendent Earl Carter, in particular, has been on a personal crusade against the “sissies” in the church – those are his words, also given at the same convocation where he “deliveredt” the young man from homosexuality. This sort of diversity among the flock should be celebrated, but instead, Dr. Carter, going on modern-day witch hunts, calls out gay choir boys “walking around with your pocketbooks and tight pants and gold ties and you’re walking like a girl” and says they’re “perverted and lost.” He is also not a big fan of praise dancing, which he calls “insidious preaching.”  Yes, once you starting voguing for the Lord, the only reasonable progression is to start voguing for the House of Chanel.

The irony here is that it is never lesbians that get these people’s anointed boxers in a bind. Instead, it seems that gay men are the biggest threat to God’s house – or should I say, gay men are a threat to God’s servants?

I often hear folks question the mental state of some gays and lesbians, who still are members of religious institutions that are run by mostly sexually insecure men who do not recognize the full humanity of their members. Quite honestly, I don’t get why they continue attending. Hell, I’m wondering why any black person for that matter still partakes in the whole charade. The entire theologian at this point seems so antiquated, it’s hard to see how it can help black folks actually progress in society.

I always assume that it has something to do with faith, and the faith a person has in God is much stronger than a corrupt messenger. And I also believe that it has something to do with the fact that there are still entire black communities, particularly in the South, whose lives are shaped around the church. Even to this day, many of these churches, particularly the megachurches, are where black folks go to not only praise, but to organize, to socialize and even be entertained. To be locked out of that often means being ostracized from your family, friends and the larger community.

Therefore, what we likely are witnessing is a man so desperate to be accepted by his peers that he is willing to renounce his entire being and deny himself a lifetime of happiness being who and what he is. When in reality, he shouldn’t have to say anything at all – because why does it matter? As such, there is nothing funny about that. To the contrary, it actually makes me quite sad. And it should make everyone sad too.

I’m not much of a churchgoer, but I always did like the parts about God, compassion and empathy. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention those religious leaders, particularly within the black church, who are really down to uplift and empower all their people. But it is time for those good pastors to stand up to the paranoid, opportunistic (as I imagine that the only thing keeping some of these churches afloat is fear) and the busybodies (and quite frankly sexually confused) within their ranks and tell them that this kind of hate and bigotry is unacceptable and poor use of the church’s organizing time. Not with voter ID laws, cops killing black men and women on the streets and Republicans trying their damnedest to repeal Obamacare. Not when there is likely a sizable portion of the congregation on food stamps and public assistance and in need of real deliverance – without the “t.”

I’m just saying, if harassing people who are gay is the only salvation you can offer your flock, especially in the face of so much other real stuff stacked against them, clearly it is the church here that is the biggest joke.

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