TAMPA, Fla., Aug. 8 (UPI) -- A Baptist church in Tampa cancelled a man's funeral with less than 24 hours notice after the church's pastor discovered the deceased was gay.
When Pastor T.W. Jenkins read Julion Evans' obituary in a local paper, it made reference to his husband, 40-year-old Kendall Capers. Evans, 42, had recently died of a rare disease that affects internal organs, and was scheduled to have his funeral at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, where Jenkins serves as Pastor.
Upon learning that Evans was openly gay, he called Evans' mother Julie Atwood to cancel the funeral scheduled for the following day.
"It was devastating," Atwood told WFLA. The grieving mother was literally standing over her son's casket when the call came.
"He was being denied the dignity of death."
But Jenkins says he was just doing his duty as "a man of God," standing up for his faith regardless of the mitigating circumstances.
"Based on our preaching of the scripture, we would have been in error to allow the service in our church," Jenkins rationalized.
"I'm not trying to condemn anyone's lifestyle, but at the same time, I am a man of God, and I have to stand up for my principles."
"It's not like we woke up and said, 'let's be gay,'" countered Capers, Evans' husband.
Capers said he and Evans were never in the closet, and he would have understood if the church declined the funeral in advance. Now Casper says, he's devastated and second-guessing religion.
"Regardless of our background, our sexual orientation, how can you wait that long and put someone in a bind when they're going through a loss ... This is 2014, this is not the 60s or the 70s. So at the end of the day I just want his wrong-doing to be exposed."