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Gay Couple Assaulted — At Church

Jim Burroway

October 4th, 2011

Jerry Pittman, Jr., (left) and Dustin Lee (right)

Jerry Pittman, Jr., and his boyfriend, Dustin Lee, were attacked when they tried to go to church at Grace Fellowship in Fruitland, Tennessee:

I went over to take the keys out of the ignition and all the sudden I hear someone say ‘sick’em,’” said Gibson County resident, Jerry Pittman Jr.

Pittman said the attacked was prompted by the pastor of the church, Jerry Pittman, his father.

“My uncle and two other deacons came over to the car per my dad’s request. My uncle smash me in the door as the other deacon knocked my boyfriend back so he couldn’t help me, punching him in his face and his chest. The other deacon came and hit me through my car window in my back,” said Pittman. He said bystanders did not offer assistance. He said the deacon yelled derogatory homosexual slurs, even after officers arrived. He said the officers never intervened to stop the deacons from yelling the slurs.

The younger Pittman says that there were about twenty people standing around the front of the church when the assault took place, but no one intervened to stop the assault or call the police. He also says that the sheriff’s deputy refused to take a statement from the victims or allow them to press charges. Gibson County Sheriff Chuck Arnold said, “If I was on the scene I would not have allowed that. The deputy should not have allowed it if he did,… I haven’t talk to him but that would be out of character for my deputy to say unless they were causing a problem themselves.”

The couple later filed assault charges against Deacons Billy Sims and Eugene McCoy. The younger Pittman is also pressing charges against his father and Deacon Patrick Flatt. They are due in court today. The pastor and his wife are also going through a divorce.

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BlackDog
October 4th, 2011 | LINK

Not only should all those “church people” be brought up on charges, but those Deputies should be disciplined as well, if they are not, they could get the department cited for professional misconduct and certainly have already opened the door for the Sheriff’s department to be sued.

We have these thing called laws…and I guess I was taught that obeying the law was something Christians did,apparently not everyone was taught that. Just because a person is religious does not give them a free pass to break the law when ever their religious beliefs are offended, Period.

These people ought to be ashamed of themselves, all of them, except for the victims, that is.

They just need a bulldog of a lawyer.

I think if I was still a Christian, the behavior of most Fundamentalists these days toward gay people would make me ashamed to be one.

Regan DuCasse
October 4th, 2011 | LINK

I have a question, I know some young people who I love and care about very much.
But damn…is their Christianity on their sleeves!
For every one of them that makes some kind of exclamation about how much they love the Lord…blah, blah, blah…I’m seeing very little of THEM.
It’s almost like they are so covered over in Christianity, I’m not seeing much of the real them at all.
And of course, they are all saying the same kinds of things, with little variation.
Sometimes just to break it up on FB, I’ll quote a famous Native American…or gay person. Right now, considering the grief I’m feeling over the suicides of these young teens and the anti gay violence that permeates the news EVERY month, I want to shake these people up.
What if the young children they are starting to have are gay?
I don’t want ANY of these young people to have the inevitable world of hurt they are in for if they have a gay child, but seriously.
I’m getting disturbed up in here.

I have broached the issue when one of them, fresh out of the Marines and I were discussing DADT.
He keeps saying ‘lifestyle’ and ‘they choose to be like that’.
I’m working on it folks, truly.

Can you blame me if it’s getting weird that a young person’s individuality and basic decency is getting foreshadowed by CONSTANTLY talking about God and Christ and on and ON…?

Of course, when I go up to visit, I’m invited to church. And I’d love to be open minded.
But something tells me that it’s mostly all white, hetero heavy and most of the folks walk and talk alike.

I know these kid’s history. The males in the equation have known me since they were babies. And trust me and love me.
And they DO look to me on serious issues because they know I think and that I’m honest and I love them.

And I’m trying to separate THEM from the awful people who torment CHILDREN to death or are willing to abandon and abuse and assault their gay children.
It’s exceptionally scary people who do that. Sociopaths really, who are so coldly without feeling for the pain they are inflicting.

Anyway, if any of you more devout folks have some advice. I’m all ears.
Thanks.

Regan DuCasse
October 4th, 2011 | LINK

Oh and, Jerry and Dustin here are a cute young couple. I can’t BELIEVE they were assaulted by a frickin’ MOB like that!

Makes me wanna holler…

Fafner Sims
October 4th, 2011 | LINK

I am supposed to want to go to Heaven. Is this what I would see if I went there?

Priya Lynn
October 4th, 2011 | LINK

Regan said “It’s almost like they are so covered over in Christianity, I’m not seeing much of the real them at all.”.

I discovered that too. I once worked with a woman who was a devout christian, spent years in school studying christianity, talked about how her life was centred around it and so on. She spoke out for the downtrodden, was an advocate for “We’re all in this together” – she really touched my heart with her concern for others. I liked her a great deal, but as I spent more and more time with her I discovered it was all very superficial. She was all for helping others, if it didn’t take any effort on her part. She’d promiss to do things for others and then renege. She paid lip service to consideration of others but in the end it wasn’t much more than that.

james
October 4th, 2011 | LINK

although i do not condone what happene i cant figure out why they would be at a church where people act like this. i was raised in rural alabama and as soon as i was able to say no i stopped going to baptist churches. in no way do i condone this just curious as to why they were at this so called church. do they attend on a regular basis and if so why? maybe some good will come of this for this couple somehow. please do not bash me for asking this again i dont condone what happened just cant figure out why they were at such a place knowing it was full of rabid christians looking to get there bashing on in the name of the lord.

David Roberts
October 4th, 2011 | LINK

James said:

although i do not condone what happene i cant figure out why they would be at a church where people act like this.

I had the same thought, James.  The young man’s father is apparently the pastor, and I have to believe his feelings haven’t been kept a secret (hardly the subtle type if he led a mob against his own son).  The incident is unconscionable but we seem to be missing an element of the story. 

Had they been going before, and this just happened out of the blue?  Was there a showdown of sorts, and this was their “stand?”  Or perhaps they just finally got up the nerve to go to church together, hoping the family and congregation would be at least tolerant if not accepting. 

A little more context would round out the story, but nothing will excuse the actions of those who participated or stood by in silence.  The record from the court appearance today should be interesting. 

I suspect this one hits home a bit for Timothy.

BlackDog
October 5th, 2011 | LINK

@ Regan: It’s not easy…I’ve known people like that who really WERE that devout and sincere, who were not particularly judgemental although they’d let you know if they disagreed with something, etc. Most of the religious people I knew when I was in the military were that way, as was my dad’s dad (An Air Force veteran himself) and my grandma is still that way. although as I’ve mentioned we had our resident religious nut in the 410th Security Forces squadron too.

Then there are those who…as Priya points out, are completely superficial and just talk a lot about how religious they are and crap like that. I think that most of your “wear their religion on their sleeves” Evangelicals are this way anymore. A lot of these people really are not cruel, just sheltered and they don’t want to go outside of their comfort zones, even mentally, so they end up doing and saying a lot of ignorant things. Call them on it enough times and they may learn, or they will at least learn to avoid YOU.

Then, you have the out-and-out decievers, the ones who will say one thing and do another, who lie like it doesn’t even matter to them and some of them can be pretty hateful…some are just in religion for whatever they can get, too. I was married to somebody like this.

What does one do…when ALL of the people in ALL of these three groups LOVE to talk about Jesus??

Watch their actions, how they treat the people around them. If they treat the people around them like crap they’re not worth your time. If they treat others decently, that’s different. Engage the ones who pass that test, debate with them, make them think. I have quite a few theological discussions with a few of the people that I work with, sometimes, they might just not know, ya know??

The problem anymore, I think, is that the word “Christian” really doesn’t mean anything, behavior and morals have become divorced from the label and decent behavior and respect for others (which were figuratively or literally beaten into me at times) are things that are not taught, much less expected.

I was taught “Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, and do good to them that hate you.” The first time I ever called anyone stupid, I got sent to my room. The first time I ever used a racist word I got my mouth washed out with soap. The first time I ever called a gay person a derogatory term I got beat with a belt. You could disagree with something all day…but you still had to respect the person.

Now the mantra is “love the sinner, hate the sin” and not only is no clear line drawn between the two…but there is no subculture in the world that says “you are what you do” more than in current American Evangelical Christianity, and there are few more graceless religions, Christian or otherwise. I attribute this to the increased influence of Charismatic and Pentecostal groups…which were looked at as a joke back in the 70′s and the 80′s. Even Fundamentalism has cuddled up to these people and the Fundies used to hate them.

All I can say…as a person who deals with these issues a lot in my capacity as an admin on a forum for ex-Pentecostals is you can never let your guard down, because a person might not be a deciever themselves…but they may well have been decieved.

Some you can help, others you can’t, some don’t mean harm and others actively do. It’s hard, and it sucks, and I think if Jesus came back today a lot of the Christians would shout “Crucify Him” just like everybody else.

Probably doesn’t help much, but that’s reality as I see it.

BlackDog
October 5th, 2011 | LINK

Hey Regan,
Check out http://expentecostalforums.yuku.com/
It’s the forum where I ‘work.’ People there might be able to help you with your questions, too.

We do have a GLBT forum, but you’ll have to post a bit before you can apply for access to that.

David Roberts
October 5th, 2011 | LINK

FYI, it looks like Evan from TWO talked with Jerry, one of the two young men attacked, and got a lot of background information. The added context makes the whole incident sound even more sinister — a very sad situation.

http://www.truthwinsout.org/pressreleases/2011/10/19130/

Nick
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

I wanted to highlight that people of faith are disgusted by this kind of hate and violence too.

Faithful America is running a petition demanding an apology from the Church leadership and calling out their actions as a distortion of real Christianity.

http://bit.ly/mVgO5L

Timothy Kincaid
October 6th, 2011 | LINK

BlackDog

I think if I was still a Christian, the behavior of most Fundamentalists these days toward gay people would make me ashamed to be one.

Frankly, I am ashamed to call myself a Christian. I tend to look for other terms.

Regan

It’s almost like they are so covered over in Christianity, I’m not seeing much of the real them at all.

Great way to put it.

I learned early that the ones who start every conversation with “Praise Jesus” and who always have a tie-in to Christianity no matter what you’re discussing are the ones to be leery of. They are usually hiding something and often it’s nasty.

But of course, they have no monopoly on that. Identities can be useful tools or dictators. Some gay people are so tied into being gay that if they suddenly woke up straight they would have absolutely no identifying characteristics.

Priya Lynn

I liked her a great deal, but as I spent more and more time with her I discovered it was all very superficial. She was all for helping others, if it didn’t take any effort on her part.

She’s not alone. There are plenty of people who know that Christians are supposed to be all for helping others and they define themselves as a Christian above all else, so they automatically respond with “yes, I’ll help.” But their motivations are all about show, proving to you and the world just how good they are and how good Christians are. See, they’re helping.

It must be tiring, being so fake.

I learned long ago to respect the folks who you only discovered were Christian after they helped you move and replant the tree. And then because someone else told you instead of them being nice so they could lure you to church.

James

i dont condone what happened just cant figure out why they were at such a place knowing it was full of rabid christians looking to get there bashing on in the name of the lord.

David

A little more context would round out the story, but nothing will excuse the actions of those who participated or stood by in silence. The record from the court appearance today should be interesting.

I suspect this one hits home a bit for Timothy.

Why do you put up with your racist Dad at Christmas? Or you mother who blathers on and on and on about her favorite TV show? Or visit your slob brother whose apartment, frankly, stinks? Or listen to Grandma’s stories which you’ve heard a thousand times and which increasingly are picking up bizarre and highly unlikely details? Why do you go to the church you were raised in knowing that a couple times a year the pastor will say something truly offensive? Or hang out with friends of many years even though you know that they are unfair and demanding on their spouse?

Lots of reasons, some good, some bad. It’s family, home, familiar, easy. If we throw away these people, we’ll be alone. Those who demand perfection end up hermits. They really aren’t all bad. And so forth.

Mostly, I suspect, because it’s his Dad. Leaving that church would mean not only disrespecting Dad but losing his entire family.

And it’s family drama played large.

And it’s calling a bluff. I’ll bring my boyfriend and I know Dad won’t like it, but surely he won’t do anything. Maybe if he just got to know Dustin he’d like him. And I can’t bring him to the house, but surely church will be safe.

BlackDog

What does one do…when ALL of the people in ALL of these three groups LOVE to talk about Jesus??

Watch their actions, how they treat the people around them. If they treat the people around them like crap they’re not worth your time.

The Jesus guy that the gospels wrote about said, “People will know that you are my disciples if you love each other.” It’s not difficult to imagine that guy responding to “I love Jesus” with “no you don’t you fake bastard.”

Some you can help, others you can’t, some don’t mean harm and others actively do. It’s hard, and it sucks, and I think if Jesus came back today a lot of the Christians would shout “Crucify Him” just like everybody else.

Are you kidding? They’d lead the chants.

Nick

I wanted to highlight that people of faith are disgusted by this kind of hate and violence too.

For far too long the Church, collectively, has been willing to let nutcase fringe and the self-righteous and the hateful and the intolerant define the faith. Only recently have mainline Christians – and some evangelicals who are disgusted at the nastiness and intolerance – begun to stand up and say that this distortion of Christianity does not speak for them.

Lately I’ve noticed that when a local city has some ordinance or other, the Methodist or UCC or Presbyterian minister is there to speak about God and love and to support the gay community. I’m very thankful… but it’s about time.

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