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Swilley’s story: A gay pastor, his wife, and a deeper ministry

Bishop Jim Swilley came out to his congregation in Oct.

Bishop Jim Swilley founded Church in the Now, the massive, non-denominational congregation in Conyers, in 1985. But as the church grew over 25 years, and throughout his almost four decades of ministry, Swilley struggled with a secret that he hid from his congregation.

“I am approaching my 39th year in ministry — All I have ever done is preach the gospel,” Swilley told his congregation in an emotional sermon last month, noting that his parents tell stories of him preaching while still in diapers.

“There are two things in my life that are an absolute: I did not ask for either one of them, both of them were imposed upon me, I had no control over either of them,” Swilley said.

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Religion blog: I was wrong about Pastor Jim Swilley

I have got to say there is nothing worse than finding one’s self on the wrong end of a gospel story. A few days ago, when the news of Bishop Jim Swilley the founding pastor of  “The Church in the Now” got out that he had come out, I was not particularly kind.

One my Facebook page I made the following comment: “is thinking Rev. Swilley is NO gay hero. He finally comes out after he has fathered 4 kids, was in a sham of a marriage...and how many young folks took his hypocritical teachings to heart and ended their life? I am sorry there are those of us who have stood in the line of fire for a long time and took the hits while he was...Thank you Rev. for getting a conscience, lets see what you do now that you are out.”

Then as I am preparing to write this blog I re-read the story of the “Prodigal Son.”  One can find the complete story at Luke 15:11-32 (The Message).  Needless to say I found myself on the wrong end of this Gospel story.

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Answers in Genesis takes offense to coverage of anti-gay billboard

Ken Ham, President of Answers in Genesis

I wrote a blog post on Tuesday entitled “Gainesville, Ga., billboard demeans same-sex marriage” that highlights a billboard on display just off Georgia 53 and the Atlanta Highway between Flowery Branch and Gainesville.

Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis (organizers of the campaign), responded to the article yesterday by posting a blog of his own, “Intolerant People Opposing an AiG-backed Billboard.” In the post, Ham calls out my journalistic integrity over my choice of wording in the article.

“It’s all in the way you say things, isn’t it?” Ham writes. “How about a headline that states, “Billboard quotes Bible on Marriage” or “Billboard quotes Jesus on Marriage.”

“No, a ‘gay activist’ newspaper wouldn’t want a positive message like that. Because of the obvious anti-Christian agenda, they show their intolerance for the Bible even in the headline.”

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Creflo Dollar calls out fellow mega-church pastor Jim Swilley

Pastor Creflo Dollar

Dr. Creflo Dollar of Atlanta's World Changers Church spoke out during his Oct. 31 sermon against Bishop Jim Swilley of Church in the Now, after Swilley came out to his congregation in mid October.

Dollar, who didn’t use Swilley’s name specifically, said during his sermon that Swilley’s address to his congregation about his homosexuality would do more harm than good for struggling youth contemplating suicide.

“The Bible says that even the very elect will be deceived. Unfortunately ladies and gentlemen, it seems like we’re almost there. Especially when you have preachers getting up in their pulpit saying, ‘I’m gay, and there’s nothing wrong with it.’

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Gainesville, Ga., billboard demeans same-sex marriage

Anti-gay billboard

A billboard featuring an anti-gay message went up last month just off Georgia 53 and the Atlanta Highway between Flowery Branch and Gainesville, Ga.

GA Voice reader Emily Perkins-Henderson spotted the billboard late last month and sent us several photos of the anti-gay advertisement.

The billboard reads: “The Bible speaks for itself on marriage. God made them male and female – Mark 10:6.”

The billboard goes onto say that it was “sponsored by joyous and generous people.”

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Religion blog: “You Are God’s Child and You Are Not A Mistake!”

When I was a 13, during the month of January 1968, I wrote a paper for my 8th grade English class on why Dr. Martin Luther King was my hero.  No big deal one would think except I was a white kid in an all white school.  As any one who reads my blog with any regularity will tell you my grammar is awful and so it was no surprise I got an A for content but a D for grammar.  With that paper my life became complicated.  I was now known as a n***** lover.  There was no end to the jokes and nasty notes left at my locker or in my schoolbooks.

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Religion blog: We’re here!

For those who have watched the “Godfather” trilogy starring Al Pacino among many stars as Michael Corleone as the head of a powerful crime family will recognize the intensity of my quote to start this blog.

Michael throughout the movies is portrayed as the good son, who is attempting to take the family business and turn it from a dynasty of crime to one of legitimacy.  Almost at every turn there is some action by other crime families, which keep him from reaching his goal. This idea carries all the way to the third movie where we find Michael in a fit of frustration say: “"Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”

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Fourth man files lawsuit against anti-gay church leader Eddie Long

A fourth man is suing Eddie Long, the anti-gay leader of megachurch New Birth  Missionary Baptist Church, first reported by the Associated Press.

The lawsuit was filed by Spencer Legrande, a former member of New Birth’s satellite church in Charlotte, N.C.

“The lawsuit said Long told LeGrande ‘I will be your dad’ and invited the 17-year-old to journey to Kenya with him in July 2005. LeGrande said that Long gave him a sleeping pill on that trip and that the two engaged in sexual acts,” the AP reports.