Pastor told gay Christian: Go kill yourself
A gay man who sent an email about his new book promoting gay-friendly religion was told by a church pastor to kill himself.
Jim Marjoram said he emailed 400 Auckland churches about his book, It's Life Jim, which details his many decades of struggling with being a gay Christian.
The response was "deathly silent" - apart from one email yesterday from Pastor Logan Robertson at Westcity Bible Baptist Church.
"We are not interested in your filthy lifestyle or book," Robertson wrote.
"Romans 1 clearly says God has rejected homos and they are worthy of death. You cannot be saved.
"I pray that you will commit suicide, you filthy child molesting fag."
Marjoram posted the text on his Facebook page. From there, it was also posted it to social forum Reddit, and the image went viral.
Robertson today said he "didn't want anything in the papers" but admitted he had read a couple of the outraged comments on the church's Facebook page this morning.
Did he regret his email?
Robertson is described on the Westcity Bible Baptist Church website as having a "love for the lost".
"Our church has a vision of reaching the lost souls of Auckland," the site says.
Westcity Bible Baptist Church is a "family-oriented bible-believing Baptist church located in West Auckland", the website states.
"We believe anything and everything found in the King James Version of the bible."
Marjoram said he had battled with depression and suicidal thoughts throughout his life so the comment stung.
"On so many occasions I'd want to jump in front of a truck but my kids kept me going," he said.
"Not being able to resolve the fact that I was gay, something unaccepted in my faith, was very painful."
His faith helped him in the end but now Marjoram said he was "loosely" Christian after witnessing the worst and best of the religion.
"There's 40,000 denominations of Christianity across the world and they all cherry-pick what they want to believe," he said.
"I've taken a step back because the bible is so ambiguous; it was probably never meant to be taken so literally."
Marjoram studied theology at bible school for two years and said he had practised Christianity for most of his life.
"I was surprised that I got that comment in New Zealand – it's the sort of discussion you'd expect from a redneck bible-basher in America," he said
Marjoram was married to his second wife for 22 years and both were involved in programmes to help counsel gay people to be straight.
"We did this for nearly 15 years," he said.
"My wife had had lesbian encounters as well – we were so deep in denial.
"All the time I was drifting deeper into mental illness.
"She died in 2011 and that was when I was like 'I've had enough' and starting writing this book."
The reaction to the email has been a catalyst, Marjoram said.
He said he had received overwhelming amounts of support internationally and within New Zealand.
"People think with the [legalisation] of gay marriage we don't have issues anymore but we do," he said.
"They are more personal and churches don't know how to deal with the subject."
His book aims to raise funds for his Silent Gays project that was "dedicated to helping/healing gay people broken by guilt, shame, abuse and defeat that Christianity has mercilessly dealt out to God's precious people for too long".
The book's launch is tomorrow night and Marjoram said people who wanted to attend could contact him via his website www.silentgays.blogspot.co.nz
* Correction: An earlier version of this story said Marjoram posted the exchange to Reddit himself.
* Lifeline: 0800 543 354 - Provides 24 hour telephone counselling
* Youthline: 0800 376 633 or free text 234 - Provides 24 hour telephone and text counselling services for young people
* Samaritans: 0800 726 666 - Provides 24 hour telephone counselling.
* Tautoko: 0508 828 865 - provides support, information and resources to people at risk of suicide, and their family, whānau and friends.
* Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (noon to midnight)
* Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (4pm - 6pm weekdays)
If it is an emergency or you feel you or someone you know is at risk, please call 111
For information about suicide prevention, see http://www.spinz.org.nz.
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