Pastor’s comments spark protest, online debate

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A screen shot of KOAT-TV’s coverage of Sunday’s protest.

A screen shot of KOAT-TV’s coverage of Sunday’s protest.

Dozens protested outside Albuquerque’s Legacy Church on Sunday while, inside, Pastor Steve Smothermon defended comments he made to NMPolitics.net about the governor appointing a gay man to office.

A few dozen people protested in front of Legacy Church in Albuquerque on Sunday in response to comments Pastor Steve Smothermon recently made to NMPolitics.net about the governor appointing a gay man to office.

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Meanwhile, Smothermon told his congregation inside the church that he would not apologize, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

And the situation sparked a lot of discussion online about the controversial issue.

NMPolitics.net was the first to report last month that Doug Howe, who Gov. Susana Martinez appointed to the Public Regulation Commission, is gay. Martinez’s spokesman said Howe was the most-qualified applicant for the vacancy created last year when Jerome Block Jr. pleaded guilty to felonies and resigned.

Smothermon told NMPolitics.net last month that Martinez “looked me in the eye personally and said she’s socially conservative… she wouldn’t espouse the homosexual agenda.” He said Howe’s appointment “goes against that.”

“These aren’t the people we voted for you to appoint. We voted for you to appoint people who think like we do,” he said, adding that he is “not against the human being, but the lifestyle and the political power that the homosexual agenda has today, as a lobbying agenda, that’s what I begin to come against.”

On Sunday, several dozen people, including Jesse Lopez of Get Equal New Mexico, stood outside the church holding signs, KOAT-TV in Albuquerque reported.

“For so many years we have sat back and we have done nothing. And today… we are taking all of that hate that that man has put out, and we are gonna send as much love as God calls us to, to send back on him,” Lopez was quoted by KOAT as saying.

One Legacy Church member, Michael Angel Gutierrez, told the protesters he had been gay for 25 years, but “because of the truth that God has revealed to me, I’m no longer a homosexual man.” KOAT reported that he and the protesters agreed to disagree.

Smothermon defends ‘right to hold a biblical worldview’

Steve Smothermon

Steve Smothermon

On Sunday, Smothermon, speaking to his 20,000-member congregation, drew applause for saying he wouldn’t apologize for insisting on “our right to hold a biblical world view,” the newspaper reported.

“Just like the mayor, if you campaign as a conservative, and you say you will govern as a conservative, I have an expectation when you say to me that you will do what you said, and hire and appoint people that are conservatives,” the Journal quoted Smothermon as saying.

“I’m just a pastor of a church in this state that believes that people ought to keep their word,” he said.

The sermon Smothermon gave Sunday isn’t yet online but will be posted at this link. I don’t know whether his comments about the situation will be included.

Smothermon has long been involved in politics. The Albuquerque Journal profiled him in December and highlighted his fights with several politicians, including battles with Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry over the signing of a proclamation supporting an annual gay-pride parade and someone Berry hired to work in his office.

Online debate ensues

Smothermon’s comments about Howe’s appointment and the ensuing protest sparked an online debate. Darren White, Albuquerque’s former public safety director and someone Smothermon has criticized in the past, tweeted that the pastor’s views are “repugnant.” He also tweeted that Get Equal New Mexico’s Lopez “is right about Smothermon. We are ALL God’s children. There is no compassion when you preach conversion.”

On Legacy Church’s Facebook page, parishioners and others expressed their support for Smothermon.

“Taking the bible literally seems like such a bad idea to people who refuse to do it. We all love you and appreciate you,” Rainny Fernandez wrote. “Legacy Church saves lives, but they never mention that do they? You know God is keeping score of all of your good work, and that’s all that matters in the end.”

“Protestors this morning outside of church baffled me. ‘God is Love’ The last year and a half Ive been goin to Legacy has been the best time of my life,” Justine Marie Otero wrote. “The love I have been shown at Legacy through the Word of God and his people has changed my life and saved me!!”

Karen Ruth wrote that “Satan is using these protesters” and “has convinced them that what they are doing is good.”

“You have taught us the Bible.. Not part, not some… BUT ALL…,” Ruth wrote. “We cannot choose what part to accept and what parts to just trash and decide God must have made a mistake…These people and groups are in fear… Satan is in fear because you are reaching the people…”

Meanwhile, on Lopez’s Facebook page, Brandon Aragon expressed support for the protest.

“I’m damn proud of what you all did,” he wrote. “Politics and churches just don’t mix…. and now I realize how sad it is that people would rather judge than accept that fact that a certain candidate is ‘qualified’ for their job!”

13 thoughts on “Pastor’s comments spark protest, online debate

  1. I realize the division of church and state has been abused by the country to extremes….NOW that there is true evidence of abuse from the church the state does nothing to hold this man accountable for discriminatory actions. Smothermon comments, “These aren’t the people we voted for you to appoint. We voted for you to appoint people who think like we do,” Please do not include “we.” This man does not speak for me and I’m a conservative. I do not want any political leader to think like me. I want someone who knows how to get the job done. I think this man should stick to saving souls and stay out of politics. He is a minister not a politician. That is an abuse of the division of church and state in my opinion. Would he refuse political employment to all the adulterous men and women I’m sure that congregate within his temple on Sundays and hold their sins in secrets dark rooms believing no one see’s? I doubt it….

  2. It never ceases to amaze me how contrary to God’s teachings some “Christian” groups can be.

  3. Because of Christian groups like these I do not celebrate Christmas. Now the 25th of December means the days are getting longer. Too much hate coming from these small store front church’s that I reject their self righteous claim as Christians.

  4. For the record, IP is correct.  The district lines for HD 59 have been redrawn so that it is contained in Chaves and Lincoln counties only.  So the “Wedum59” campaign has been retired and I have changed my political email address and my nmpolitics.net signin ID.

  5. There is a solution to all this blurring the lines between church and state.  A whole bunch of Christian Gay and Lesbian people need to attend this church…in mass.  Take up the front pews and go right up for the Eucharist.  When confronted with proselytizing, just be sure to emphatically tell your proselytizer that you are already saved and believe that Jesus Christ is your personal savior and that you have been born again and talk to Jesus everyday.  Keep attending and keep testifying as to your salvation and keep being Gay.

    Seriously, Gay and Lesbian people are welcome to come to my church in Socorro.

    As for the Gay agenda
    1.  Non-discrimination in employment
    2.  Non-discrimination in housing
    3.  Right to adopt and raise children
    4.  Right to marry 
    5.  No more stigmatizing gender identity or orientation in the culture and creed of this nation

    Well, I for one support it.  If a Gay or Lesbian person is elected or is appointed to a prestigious office, it should be held up as an example to others as to the normalization of diverse people in our society.  We did it for women and we did it for the races.  This is the well worn path to acquire civil rights.  

  6. JusticeP:
     
    My apologies; I was under the impression that all the regulars were aware that “EW-aif” is Ms. Wedum’s new username.

  7. JusticeP:
     
    You actually seem to have missed the whole point of Ms. Wedum’s comment; The fact that Mr. Smotherman objects to someone based on any criteria other than their qualifications for the job is exactly the problem.  For that matter, could someone please explain to be how biology constitutes an “agenda” and what on Earth the “gay movement” even is?

  8. It is now time for Legacy Church to be taxed. It is clear to me and others that Steve Smothermon crossed the line and now this group no longer deserves tax exemption.

    Are hate crimes illegal in New Mexico? Are they prosecuted? Having read about Judge Murphy’s conduct I am not sure. The archives of http://www.nmpolitics.net may be accessed by those who would like to know about New Mexico’s prosecutorial deficiencies, Judge Murphy’s conduct, and other related injustices.

    Great Job Heath Haussamen, perhaps you will single handedly cure some of the State’s grave ills with your fearless and truthful reporting.

    And Ma Barker, what a queer comment to make.

  9. to JusticeP, a few corrections to your use of certain terms.

    “Every person has the ability to choose his sexual preference.” First, the proper term is sexual orientation not preference, which implies the individual has made an informed choice to like something. A mountain of scientific evidence supports the fact that sexual orientation is not a choice.

    It is not a lifestyle to be gay, a lifestyle is the car you drive, the clothes you wear, the job you have and the house you live in.  All of these can be changed with a change in income, location or job. Middle class is a lifestyle being gay is my life. I can’t change it by getting a new job or moving to a new town. 

  10. “Lobbying agenda”? “Appointed with a personal agenda?” What are you talking about, Sonny?
    The last few years have been pretty tough ones at the PRC, what with losing so many of our best friends. Fortunately they haven’t all been replaced by do-gooder, law & order types. I’m suspicious of your name, but we probably agree on Mr. Howe, who ain’t no Pat Lyons far as keeping up the longstanding PRC customs and traditions we’ve come to depend on.
    But really, what does being queer have to do with gas regulations and trucking rates?

  11.  
    Smothermon…” he said, adding that he is “not against the human being, but the lifestyle and the political power that the homosexual agenda has today, as a lobbying agenda, that’s what I begin to come against.”
    Lopez was quoted by KOAT as saying … we are taking all of that hate that that man has put out, and we are gonna send as much love as God calls us to, to send back on him,”.
    Wow!!! I find it difficult to read into Smothermon’s statement any hatred toward Doug Howe.  Smothermon said he was against “the lifestyle and the political power that the homosexual agenda has today, as a lobbying agenda,…”
    “Howe hopes his appointment helps move the cause of gay rights forward.” http://www.nmpolitics.net/index/2012/01/like-christie-martinez-appointed-gay-man-to-office/
     
    If Howe expressed this above quoted view to Gov. Martinez during the vetting process it would be clear that Howe has an agenda “move the cause of gay rights forward”.  If that occurred then Gov. Martinez’s statement to Pastor Smothermon would rightfully cause the reaction by Smothermon in his statement to this site.
     
    Every person has the ability to choose his sexual preference.  This I do not challenge.  However, just as occurred many times in this blog the assertion of the homosexual agenda demanding rights and the denial of those rights to “marry” has become a political issue and an agenda.  I, like Smothermon have a right to disagree with “the lifestyle and the political power that the homosexual agenda has today, as a lobbying agenda,…” and do.
     
    If Mr. Howe is a qualified as reported, and the most qualified I would agree with his appointment, but not with him being appointed with a personal agenda.  I would also question Jay McClesky’s recommending Howe to Gov. Martinez as “an agenda” to get votes from the gay community as they generally perceive the Republican’s are against the gay movement.
     
    EW-aif: I do not see that Pastor Smothermon made any comments about Howe’s qualifications.  I believe your focus is slanted by your statement.

  12. Smothermon SAYS that he is ‘“not against the human being…” but no job means no income means no food on the table.  So in short Smotherman wants this person dead.  Just what job would Smothermon allow this highly qualified man to have?