Mike Pence spoke at a homophobic church service where the pastor blamed 'the devil' for same-sex attraction

pcachero@businessinsider.com (Paulina Cachero)
Vice President Mike Pence speaks to the Holy City Church of God In Christ congregation during his trip to Memphis on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020. Pence spoke at the church service in remembrance of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the day before the federal holiday named after the civil rights leader. Pence says King touched the hearts of millions of Americans and his words continue to inspire. Pence acknowledged the nation's deep divide and says Americans must rededicate themselves to the ideals that King advanced. (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian via AP)

Associated Press

  • US Vice President Mike Pence spoke at a church service Sunday where the pastor claimed that same-sex attraction was caused by "the devil," NBC News reported.
  • The homophobic sermon was live-streamed by the White House from Holy City Church of God in Christ in Memphis, Tennessee.
  • A video of it remains on the White House YouTube page. 
  • LGBTQ rights groups say that they were not surprised by Pence's participation, citing his previous support of anti-LGBTQ legislation.
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Vice President Mike Pence participated in an anti-gay church service, drawing condemnation from LGBTQ advocacy groups.

At the service on Sunday at the Holy City Church of God in Memphis, Tennessee, Pence stood at the pulpit before a mostly black congregation to speak about the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Trump administration's work to "open pathways to the American dream for every American."

Following his speech, the founding pastor of the church, Bishop Jerry Wayne Taylor, went on a diatribe denouncing homosexuality as the work of "the devil."

"The devil is trying to destroy the foundation of marriage — cut off the reproduction process. Two men can't have a baby. Two women can't have a baby," Taylor said in the sermon.

Taylor blamed a "demonic spirit" for same-sex attraction and urged his congregants to encourage only young women and men to get married.

"It's a demonic spirit that causes a woman to lie with another woman. It's a demonic spirit that calls a man to be attracted to another man," the church leader proselytized.

The homophobic sermon was live-streamed by the White House from the Holy City Church of God in Christ. A video of the service remains on the White House YouTube page.

Church leaders lashed out at LGBTQ people and praised Pence

During his sermon, Taylor also lashed out at those whose gender identity is different from their sex assigned at birth, claiming that God "made a man to be a man."

He ended his tirade on homosexuality by pointing to animal relationships, falsely claiming they did not engage in same-sex relationships.

"You never see two male animals coming together. Animals have not left the place God called them to be in," Taylor said. "We got to expose what the devil is doing."

Vice President Mike Pence delivers remarks during a campaign event Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Associated Press

Earlier in the service, another church leader called Pence "one of the most persecuted Christians in America" who was hated for "believing the Bible."

"The biggest criticism that he gets all over television and everywhere else is that he actually believes the Bible ... They hate him for believing," Bishop Vincent Matthews Jr. said.

A representative for Pence did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

LGBTQ advocates say the rhetoric match the Trump administration's policies

LGBTQ advocacy groups said they were not surprised by Pence's participation at the anti-gay sermon given the Trump administration's history of advocating for legislation that discriminates against the LGBTQ community.

According to GLAAD, the Trump administration has made 136 attacks on the LGBTQ community, most notably its ban on transgender service members from serving in the armed forces

"Wish we could say we were surprised that the Vice President spoke at a church event where the bishop spouted vile things about LGBTQ people. But here we are," GLAAD tweeted.

 Michael Vazquez, a religion and faith program director at Human Rights Campaign, added that the vice president himself has "spent his career denigrating the rights and livelihoods of LGBTQ people," including co-sponsoring a bill that would narrow the definition of marriage as solely being "the union of a man and a woman."

"It's not surprising that Mike Pence would condone this dangerous and hateful rhetoric against LGBTQ people that is supported by radical fringe faith groups," Vazquez told Insider. "While Pence's tacit endorsement of this threatening rhetoric will only further put LGBTQ people at risk of violence and discrimination, we are grateful for the ever-increasing presence of pro-equality denominations and faith leaders across the country drowning out the shriek of violence with songs of love." 

 

Pence has become an ambassador for President Donald Trump in the Christian community, attending services all over the country to garner support for the president.

Pence's appearance at Holy City Church of God in Christ may be a way to appeal to the Black protestant community. Trump's support among Black protestants is significantly lower than white evangelicals, 69% of whom said they supported his presidency in a 2019 Pew poll.

At the Holy City service, Pence listed all work the administration had done on behalf of the Black community and went on to promise that the Trump administration would stand for the "right of every American to live the American dream regardless of race or creed or color."

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