Kan. Church Boots Musician because He is Gay
A Kansas musician says church leaders kicked him out of his church's band because he is gay, the Kansas City Star reports.
Chad Graber of Hutchinson, Kan., says that he was removed from CrossPoint Church's band in November 2011 after Andy Addis, the church's senior pastor, asked him if he is gay.
The piano player only came out to a few people but a church member apparently complained about Graber's orientation. Addis told him that the church did not allow gay leaders even if they played keyboards in the place of worship's band as a volunteer.
"My goal was to put more good things in my life, and church was it," Graber told the newspaper.
The pastor also told him that he was worried that Graber's presence may urge someone to hurt him.
"But he told me he'd love for me to keep going to church services," he said.
Graber, who joined the band in 2007, told the publication he is trying to forgive Addis, although he admits, "it's been a struggle." He also warns his gay friends to stay away from CrossPoint.
When the Star talked with Addison about the incident, the pastor said that Graber's removal caused some tension in the church as some members left.
"If it was a heterosexual practicing adultery, it would be the same," he said. "Everyone sins. But the issue is whether you see it's a sin and make changes as a response to what you see in Scripture. The difference with Chad is that he switched from struggling with his sin to embracing it. I need to stand on Scripture."
The pastor went on to say that he wants "to be a peacemaker" and that he needs to be "willing to forgive, understand and accept their differences."
"When I say 'accept,' I can still believe that I'm 100 percent right and that you may be wrong, but I still have to accept you as a person," he told the newspaper. "The bullying, hating and ostracizing and anything along those lines is anything but Christ-like."
But Graber doesn't buy Addis' rhetoric.
"That's like someone saying they love black people but believe in slavery," he said. "Or they love women, but they fight to their dying breath to deny them the right to vote. Or they're with the Nazi party and work in the Holocaust, but they say they love Jews."
Since being booted from the church, Graber has been involved in a serious relationship and plans on starting a family. He still only plays piano at home. He has, however, found a new church that accepts him, the Unitarian Universalist Church. He says the place of worship is "where people of all faiths come together to celebrate and respect each other's spiritual journeys."
A similar incident occurred earlier this year when St. Gabriel Catholic Church in Charlotte, N.C., fired Stev Bates-Congdon, its musical director, because he married his partner in New York, EDGE reported.
Bates-Congdon said he was open about his orientation since he started working at the church in 2004 and that his partner of 23 years, Bill Bates-Congdon, was often involved in the church's musical department. But after the couple tied the knot in October 2011, the church's pastor handed the music director a note that explained he had been fired because he married a man.
"Bill and I would have pulled the plug and postponed it until some time when it wouldn't have mattered, like in retirement," Bates-Congdon said. "This was never about activism or forcing the church to make a stand - or even Bill and me making a stand. It was for the sheer joy of celebrating the fact that we could get married that we decided we would."