Pastor’s comments spark protest, online debate
Dozens protested outside Albuquerque’s Legacy Church on Sunday while, inside, Pastor Steve Smothermon defended comments he made to NMPolitics.net about the governor appointing a gay man to office.
A few dozen people protested in front of Legacy Church in Albuquerque on Sunday in response to comments Pastor Steve Smothermon recently made to NMPolitics.net about the governor appointing a gay man to office.
Meanwhile, Smothermon told his congregation inside the church that he would not apologize, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
And the situation sparked a lot of discussion online about the controversial issue.
NMPolitics.net was the first to report last month that Doug Howe, who Gov. Susana Martinez appointed to the Public Regulation Commission, is gay. Martinez’s spokesman said Howe was the most-qualified applicant for the vacancy created last year when Jerome Block Jr. pleaded guilty to felonies and resigned.
Smothermon told NMPolitics.net last month that Martinez “looked me in the eye personally and said she’s socially conservative… she wouldn’t espouse the homosexual agenda.” He said Howe’s appointment “goes against that.”
“These aren’t the people we voted for you to appoint. We voted for you to appoint people who think like we do,” he said, adding that he is “not against the human being, but the lifestyle and the political power that the homosexual agenda has today, as a lobbying agenda, that’s what I begin to come against.”
“For so many years we have sat back and we have done nothing. And today… we are taking all of that hate that that man has put out, and we are gonna send as much love as God calls us to, to send back on him,” Lopez was quoted by KOAT as saying.
One Legacy Church member, Michael Angel Gutierrez, told the protesters he had been gay for 25 years, but “because of the truth that God has revealed to me, I’m no longer a homosexual man.” KOAT reported that he and the protesters agreed to disagree.
Smothermon defends ‘right to hold a biblical worldview’
On Sunday, Smothermon, speaking to his 20,000-member congregation, drew applause for saying he wouldn’t apologize for insisting on “our right to hold a biblical world view,” the newspaper reported.
“Just like the mayor, if you campaign as a conservative, and you say you will govern as a conservative, I have an expectation when you say to me that you will do what you said, and hire and appoint people that are conservatives,” the Journal quoted Smothermon as saying.
“I’m just a pastor of a church in this state that believes that people ought to keep their word,” he said.
The sermon Smothermon gave Sunday isn’t yet online but will be posted at this link. I don’t know whether his comments about the situation will be included.
Smothermon has long been involved in politics. The Albuquerque Journal profiled him in December and highlighted his fights with several politicians, including battles with Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry over the signing of a proclamation supporting an annual gay-pride parade and someone Berry hired to work in his office.
Online debate ensues
Smothermon’s comments about Howe’s appointment and the ensuing protest sparked an online debate. Darren White, Albuquerque’s former public safety director and someone Smothermon has criticized in the past, tweeted that the pastor’s views are “repugnant.” He also tweeted that Get Equal New Mexico’s Lopez “is right about Smothermon. We are ALL God’s children. There is no compassion when you preach conversion.”
On Legacy Church’s Facebook page, parishioners and others expressed their support for Smothermon.
“Taking the bible literally seems like such a bad idea to people who refuse to do it. We all love you and appreciate you,” Rainny Fernandez wrote. “Legacy Church saves lives, but they never mention that do they? You know God is keeping score of all of your good work, and that’s all that matters in the end.”
“Protestors this morning outside of church baffled me. ‘God is Love’ The last year and a half Ive been goin to Legacy has been the best time of my life,” Justine Marie Otero wrote. “The love I have been shown at Legacy through the Word of God and his people has changed my life and saved me!!”
Karen Ruth wrote that “Satan is using these protesters” and “has convinced them that what they are doing is good.”
“You have taught us the Bible.. Not part, not some… BUT ALL…,” Ruth wrote. “We cannot choose what part to accept and what parts to just trash and decide God must have made a mistake…These people and groups are in fear… Satan is in fear because you are reaching the people…”
“I’m damn proud of what you all did,” he wrote. “Politics and churches just don’t mix…. and now I realize how sad it is that people would rather judge than accept that fact that a certain candidate is ‘qualified’ for their job!”
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