A Pennsylvania pastor threw out one of his church members for being gay, announced the expulsion to the entire church, and then denounced him for going public about the incident.
Pastor David Slautterback told the Ambassador’s Bible Chapel Sunday that a 20-year-old Bobbie Pierce had to be thrown out because he wouldn’t change his mind concerning his sexuality.
Pierce says he was a member of the church in Newberry Township for years and was even baptized there.
The church has no denominational affiliations and claims to “hold to the historic fundamentals of the Christian faith.”
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Slautterback and other church leaders said Friday Pierce can no longer be a member, but he can attend services there as long as he doesn’t take divisive stances or speak contrary to scripture.
When Pierce shared a letter he received from the church with the York Daily Record, the church turned on him.
"We're accused of hate, Bobbie has accused us of hate," Slautterback said. "I think Bobbie's action (of talking to the York Daily Record) is an action of hate."
Slautterback said he doesn’t hate Pierce and that the church only wishes to save his soul.
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"We placed Bobbie under church discipline out of love for Bobbie and regard for his soul," Slautterback said.
The church's website says, “We believe in disciplining Christians through God's Word so they may live a testimonial life for Christ, thus becoming effective for God's use in leading His called to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Pierce says his sexuality and pressure from the church has made him depressed at times, but his friends have come to his aid.
"I've heard so many stories of someone who is homosexual who has a strict Christian family, who commits suicide," Pierce said.
He claims he still believes he is a Christian and that "homosexuality isn't a sin, it isn't a choice."
"The members of the church are like a family," he said. "That's where I grew up. Even with the non-acceptance of homosexuality, it's still my church where I felt comfortable."
Slautterback says homosexuality is an avoidable sin.
"I do not believe that a homosexual person has to be homosexual any more than I believe that a person who is inclined to steal steals," Slautterback said.
When confronted with news that other church leaders have a more inclusive policy on homosexuality, he said churches may use the same Bible but not all “come to it with the respect” as his church.