A “Dignity in Death” rally will be held Tuesday afternoon for a lesbian woman who was denied a funeral at New Hope Ministries in Lakewood, Colo. last week.
Vanessa Collier’s friends say the funeral was canceled by the church 15 minutes after the service was supposed to start because the church would not allow a picture to be shown of Collier proposing to her wife. The open casket and flowers were in place and about 170 people were in attendance.
According to Chaplain Greg Rolando, who would later preside over the funeral across the street at Newcomer Funeral Home, the New Hope Ministry is very community oriented. He says pastors there welcome those who are gay but ask that alternative lifestyles be censored in the church. New Hope Ministries is not commenting on the decision.
We are all too familiar with the extremism of some people in the Christian faith. The screamers and GOD HATES FAGS signs of the Westboro Baptist Church and the neo-Nazi and Klan interpretation of the bible are, to be charitable, misguided by any measure of a reasonable reading of the book they consider to be the word of their god. They use hate and discrimination as their sacraments, and we dismiss them as way out there on the fringe; they’re not the “real Christians.”
But as far as I can tell, the actions of the New Hope Ministry are just as bad as anything Westboro Baptist Church does. No, there are no Day-Glo signs and bedraggled guttersnipes standing on a street corner. The folks at New Hope cloak their bigotry in nice polite phrasing; “we’re sorry, but we’re unable to accommodate your request.” It would have been better — and more honest — to have just come out with the WE HATE LESBIANS on the church sign and left no doubt about it.
So the next time you hear some fundamentalist Christian whining about religious persecution and “why do you scorn us?”, maybe, just maybe, this kind of bigotry and othering might be a contributing factor.