Pastors Condemn Homosexuality on Eve of Rhea Co. “Gay Day”
Associated Press, May 7,
Tenn.—Bible-carrying preachers who led a downtown protest against
homosexuality attracted little attention Friday on the eve of a gay rights
celebration in Rhea County.
About 35 people, many carrying signs with Bible verses
and messages such as “God says no to same-sex marriage,” marched along an
otherwise empty sidewalk at midmorning.
Other than passers-by in vehicles, the only spectators
were police officers and retailers who watched through their store fronts.
The Rev. Franklin Raddish of Washington, D.C., founder
and director of Capitol Hill Independent Baptist Ministries, organized the
protest in response to plans by gay activists for a Saturday picnic, games and
entertainment at a park.
Plans for the gay rights celebration began in March after
the Rhea County commissioners approved and then repealed a motion to ban gays
and put them on trial for “crimes against nature.”
The protesters against homosexuality listened to
preaching Friday on the shaded lawn of the historic courthouse where a jury in
1925 convicted John Scopes for teaching evolution.
“It’s a privilege to publicly stand and declare
God’s side of this issue,” the Rev. Wayne Sexton said, pounding his fists
on a podium and prompting “Amens” from some protesters.
Sexton said he drove from the Walland community where he
is pastor of Ridgeview Independent Baptist Church. Some other participants
drove from Lawrenceburg.
Rosemary Jordan of the Evansville community in Rhea
County stood listening to the preaching and said she was surprised there
wasn’t a bigger turnout of local residents.
“If they were Christians, they would be here,” she
Rhea County commissioners, who have described their vote
to ban gays as a misunderstanding, did not attend the protest.
Jordan said most of the participants were from
Pam Webb, who watched the march from inside the retail
store where she works, said the protesters’ strategy was wrong.
“It’s not going to change them (homosexuals),” Webb
said. “God’s conviction is what changes people, not condemnation.”
Elycia Robinson, who identified herself as gay, was not
upset by the protest.
“Everybody is going to have their opinion, no matter
what,” Robinson said. “I don’t think it is going to accomplish a whole
lot. I believe in God, and I believe he loves me.”
Dayton, 35 miles north of Chattanooga with about 6,200
residents, annually commemorates the Scopes trial. The verdict was reversed on
a technicality and the trial became the subject of the play and movie
“Inherit the Wind.”
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