During the wake of Julion Evans’ funeral, his mother reportedly received a phone call from the pastor at Tampa, Florida’s New Hope Missionary Baptist Church explaining that he would have to cancel the funeral because her deceased son, who died from a rare disease called Amyloidosis, was gay.
“It was devastating,” the mother, Julie Atwood, told NBC. “I did feel like he was being denied the dignity of death.”
Evans’ family says the church learned about his orientation through his obituary in the local paper, which mentioned his husband and partner of 17 years, Kendall Capers.
According to NBC, T.W. Jenkins, the pastor at the church, remained firm in his decision:
Based on our preaching of the scripture, we would have been in error to allow the service in our church. 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.
Despite Atwood being able to find a last-minute location for her son’s funeral, some attendees didn’t get the notice and arrived at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church and missed it.
“This is 2014, this is not the 60s or the 70s,” Capers told NBC. “So at the end of the day, I just want his wrong-doing to be exposed.”
It’s not the first time a church has refused services to LGBT people on religious grounds.