By Ethan Woodhouse
May 28, 2012. In the wake of controversial statements made by a North Carolina Pastor about homosexuality, a small group of Boone-ites joined a statewide caravan Sunday on the way to Maiden, N.C. to protest against the comments.
Pastor Charles Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden has earned international attention following his Mother’s Day sermon condemning homosexuals.
Worley stated in the sermon that he would approve “a great big large fence” to keep homosexuals isolated from the public. He suggested the fence be electrified and food would be airdropped periodically until all had died out.
Thousands have visited the church in protest since the comments went viral on YouTube (941,000 views Mon. May 28). National organizations like the ACLU and Anti-defamation League also have spoken out in opposition to the Pastor’s statements.
In response to these statements, prospective N.C. Senator Deb Butler organized the “Caravan Against Hate,” which traveled to Wilmington, Chapel Hill, Winston-Salem and Boone to provide protestors with transportation to Maiden for the mass protest held May 27.
Butler’s campaign manager, Lainey Edmiston of Ashe County, organized the caravan and served as volunteer coordinator.
“Regardless of whether you think homosexuality is a sin, we have to stand up against hateful remarks,” Edmiston said. “Putting any class of citizens in electrified fence goes counter to what America’s about.”
Edmiston estimated 2,000 protestors were in attendance, 14 of which met at 8:30 a.m. in Boone Mall parking lot, where the caravan made its last stop before heading to Pastor Worley’s congregation. They traveled in four vehicles, bringing the caravan’s total to between 35-40, Edmiston said.
Suzi Woodard, Counseling Supervisor at Blue Mountain Center in Boone was one of the 14.
Upon arriving, “There was a sense that it felt really good to see so many other people with a clear, strong message about not letting these people define what Christianity, spirituality, religion or civil rights ought to be,” Woodard said. “People were committed and positive about the statement they were trying to make.”
With such massive turn-out, Edmiston worked with law enforcement in deciding to move the protest from Providence Road Baptist Church to the Catawba County Government Office so traffic and private properties surrounding the church would not be disturbed. All 675 of the facility’s parking spots were occupied.
The variety of people protesting was encouraging, Woodard said. Couples both gay and straight, children and even clergy were present.
A small group of anti-protestors assembled across the street, though they were grossly outnumbered and received a citation for using a megaphone.
“We weren’t a trouble-making group,” Woodard said. “For a lot of folks, it was a chance to get together after Amendment One and have a large gathering of people who also felt strongly about other Civil Rights issues,” Woodard said. “It was definitely pleasant and social at times too. The universal feeling was that we could not let this go unaddressed. What the minister said is completely unacceptable.”
Photo by Lonnie Webster
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