A small nondenominational church in Bridgeport, Connecticut finds itself embroiled in controversy (and rightly so!) after its members posted a video on YouTube of a gay teen being exorcised. People were so disturbed by the video that the church’s pastor, Patricia McKinney, has received death threats and a gay youth advocacy organization has asked the Connecticut Department of Children and Families to look into whether the teen has been abused or neglected by his family.
Although I certainly don’t think that threatening McKinney’s life is a useful response (pouring fear and hatred upon fear and hatred has never exactly led to harmony), I did find the video so disturbing that I had trouble watching the whole nine minutes. Although the church members certainly believed they were protecting, not harming, the boy, there’s an undeniable violence to the whole process that made my heart ache for this confused young man.
As he writhes on the floor, church members stand over him and lay hands on him while the pastor screams with hate-filled rage, “Get out you homosexual demons! You unclean spirit! You demonic spirit!”
McKinney has responded to outrage at the video with incomprehension. She explained to CNN that the boy came to the church saying that he wanted to be a pastor, but was confused about his attraction to other boys. To her mind, she was only helping the boy be rid of the “evil” forces in himself.
Unsurprisingly, the teenager continues to be plagued with confusion after his “exorcism,” according to the director of the local gay youth advocacy organization. It’s a relief to learn that he has been able to reach out to people other than his church about his confusion on how to harmonize his religion and his homosexuality. We can only hope that national outrage about the video helps this boy realize there’s nothing at all wrong with him.