Jack Hakimian, a controversial North Miami pastor who preaches that homosexuality is akin to witchcraft and drug abuse, faced a group of LGBT activists last night at Temple Beth Moshe after his statements caused a string of public controversies this summer. During the town hall Aleen Sirgany, a former national correspondent for CBS News, came out as a lesbian and introduced the crowd to her long term partner who is battling breast cancer.
"I never spoke out, ever, ever, ever," Sirgany said. "But it's really the death rate of these kids that's so troubling to me. I could sit in the comfort of our home and read The Herald and rant or see what's going on and say, 'This is terrible.' But shame on me for not saying something sooner.
"These kids are getting bullied to death and it starts with a message like the pastor has: 'You're a sinner.' That message is really spreading like cancer with very little empathy to what these kids are going through. And not just kids. Adults, too. But if the pastor is saying it's OK, and the kids go to school and those other kids say he's right, they get bullied. The parents say it's OK, the pastor said it. Shame on the pastor and shame on me for not having the courage to speak up sooner."
Hakimian has come under fire lately for his explosive remarks. He firmly believes that homosexuality is an affront to God, and believes that gays can change and become "former homosexuals." He also believes that gay activists control Broward and Miami-Dade counties on a "legislative level."
Despite his views, Hakimian has been careful to paint himself as not "anti-gay." Perhaps because his controversial sermons and teachings have gotten him into a lot of hot water. Hakimian first caught flack from openly gay North Miami Councilman Scott Galvin after the pastor teamed with PBS affiliate WPBT to oppose legislation that would have allowed a strip club to open near their North Miami studios. Hakimian's church, Impact Miami, also holds service in a public high school. Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho wanted to kick Impact Miami out of the school for its anti-gay views, but eventually backed down.
Hakimian decided to partake in a town hall event last night with LGBT activists.
Rothaus' blog indicated that Hakimian was heckled by the crowd, but the pastor told the Christian Post that he believes the experience was an overall good one.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
"I thought it was pretty positive from our perspective. Of course, people were heckling and being obnoxious, but overall it was good," Hakimian told the Evangelical newspaper.
"Christians can disagree, but find issues of mutual concern, but the other side is just as hostile as the people on the right. It's very difficult to find people who can disagree agreeably and find issues of mutual agreement," Hakimian said.
Though, let's look at what's at stake here. Hakimian would like people to stop loving the people they love and "repent" by becoming straight. The LGBT community would just like him to stop comparing them to witches and addicts.