Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Black LGBTQ Affirming Church in Dallas Acts to Counter Religious Homophobia

Apostle Alex Byrd, Senior Elder and Pastor, Living Faith Covenant Church

Dallas, TX – In response to a vitriolic anti-gay sermon preached at a major Black preaching conference at a Dallas Black mega-church, Apostle Alex Byrd’s flock boldly resolves not to back down. In a congregational meeting on April 18, Living Faith Covenant Church, a predominantly Black and LGBT church, voted officially to oppose religious homophobia and promote dialogue on behalf of LGBTQ and SGL (Same Gender Loving) people of color.  On Monday, April 12, 2010, Prophetess Janet Floyd, a featured preacher at the Urgent Utterances Conference, denounced gay and lesbian people, vigorously declaring that members of the sexual minority, regardless of their church affiliation, had “demons” that needed to be “cast out” of them by God.  The conference, jointly sponsored by a coalition of churches and Black Church scholarly groups, including Vanderbilt University Divinity School’s Black Church studies institute, was a three-day event hosted at the high-profile Friendship-West Baptist Church, pastored by one-time candidate for the presidency of the NAACP, Dr. Frederick Douglas Haynes III.  Black church leaders from around the nation attended the conference on Monday night, including students from Vanderbilt in Nashville, TN and Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, TX.  In the second sermon of the evening, the prophetess claimed that God sent a “storm” upon the nation, in the form of Hurricane Katrina and the Columbine High School shooting tragedy.  As Rev. Floyd launched into her indictment of “demon-possessed” LGBT people, some 20 attendees walked out of the service in silent protest against pulpit homophobia.  From eyewitness reports, the whole Brite Divinity School contingent and half of the Vanderbilt students walked out of the service.  News quickly spread throughout the Metroplex and around the internet.  A Rally for Love to pray for all parties affected by the sermon and to frame a response calling for dialogue and accountability gathered on Wednesday evening, April 14, jointly hosted by Living Faith Covenant Church and Promise Metropolitan Community Church.  A multi-racial gathering of forty LGBTQ people and their allies decided to form a coalition to call on Dr. Haynes, the conference, and Friendship-West Church to distance themselves from the homophobic content of the sermon.  Apostle Byrd issued a communication to Dr. Haynes, but at the time of this writing there has been no response to Byrd’s appeal.  Taking the next step, the Living Faith congregation officially issued their resolution, “Commitment to Non-Violent Resistance to Spiritual Abuse” (full text of the Resolution may be accessed here).  Briefly, the resolution calls on Black affirming Christians to “stand in solidarity with the more than 20 courageous individuals who stood up and left in peaceful protest during Reverend Janet Floyd’s sermon,” and to “acknowledge the spiritual, psychological, emotional, and social harm from ill-informed preaching, whether well-intended or malicious, inflicted upon many of our LGBTQ and SGL brothers and sisters.”  The SGL affirming congregation, affiliated and backed by The Fellowship, an international movement of radically inclusive Christians headed by San Francisco Bishop Yvette Flunder, both endorses the Black Church tradition of the freedom of the pulpit and at the same time criticizes any action or speech from the pulpit that demeans, demonizes or harms people because of their race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, class or disability.  In the event that efforts at dialogue with other religious leaders fails to produce meaningful responses, the resolution concludes, “we will engage in peaceful and non-violent resistance for the dignity and value of all of God’s creation, including LGBTQ and SGL individuals within the Community of Faith.”  Significantly, a church and movement deeply and proudly rooted in the African American Church tradition and community now has joined the issue of active and passive homophobic speech in Black churches,helping to debunk the usual claim made by some Black Church leaders that LGBTQ rights is an expression of white racism and exclusively a “white man’s issue.”  Apostle Byrd’s congregation, The Fellowship, and supporters from last week’s Rally for Love have made it clear that “spiritual abuse” aimed at LGBTQ people from any source will

Prophetess Janet Floyd

be publicly, compassionately and firmly opposed.  Apostle Byrd understands the mindset of heterosexist/homophobic ministers.  In an interview with Operation Rebirth, he said, “For the majority of preachers who bash [gays], I’d say the root is sincere compassionate ignorance. They truly want to see people saved and in their understanding, they believe homosexuality is wrong. They have to send that message so people will ‘come out’ of it. It’s a hard task for them to do. The more resistance from the homosexual(s), the more they preach it. They are ignorant, but sincere. They are ignorant in understanding the homosexual as a person. They’re ignorant in their understanding of the general context, cultural climate, history, language and translation of scripture. They are ignorant in how to appropriately apply historical text to the current needs of our society, with its likenesses and differences. But ignorance isn’t a bad thing…it simply means, ‘I don’t know.’   But stupidity IS bad. It says ‘I don’t know, and I don’t care to find out.'” While some report encouraging pulpit statements made by Dr. Haynes at Friendship-West’s April 14 evening worship service opposing the demonization of LGBTQ people, as of this date nobody from Dr. Haynes’s office, from the leadership of Friendship-West Baptist Church, or from the Urgent Utterances Conference Leadership has officially distanced themselves or their organizations from the homophobic content of Prophetess Floyd’s sermon.

April 20, 2010 - Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Bisexual persons, gay men, Lesbian women, Racism, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Social Justice Advocacy, Texas, transgender persons, transphobia, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. As someone who is currently writing a paper meant to illustrate that true prophecy is by its very nature queer, I consider Floyd’s title of “prophetess” to be a insult to the millennia-long tradition of prophetic action in the service of the oppressed and marginalized. For me, the title “Prophetess Janet Floyd” will always come with quotation marks about the “Prophetess” (though I might entertain the title of “False Prophetess.”

    I should also add that I laughed out loud when I read the line “Prophetess Floyd has allowed God to use her as an instrument of healing to the Body of Christ” on her site. As with much of what was written under the “Index” tab, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

    Comment by Carl | April 24, 2010

  2. As someone who is currently living according to the gospel. I can and will say that prophetess Janet Floyd is an amazing annointed woman, appointed by God. All I have to say about the conference is that HOLINESS is right. The basic instructions before living earth given to us in the Bible clearly tell us that homosexuality/lesbianism is WRONG. What is this world coming to, when a preacher instructed by God teaches a certain lesson and the congregation rallys against him/her? Anyone who is sent by God has a responsibility to teach the gospel, the way God has instructed them to, whether the congregation likes it or not. It is time for BOLD preachers to stand up and preach messages that will deliver and save people. Not messages that the congregation wants to hear, so that the offering plate want be diminutive. What saddens me the most is that (some) preachers who know prophetess Floyd is right will not publicly stand beside her because they are scared of who they may offend. But scripture tells us, If God is for us, who can be against us. She is not alone, besides her follwers, she has Jesus and he is more that enough. A statement made by a man of God in response to pastor Floyd’s Godly actions says thats as preachers we must be able to appropriately apply historical text to the current needs of society. The word is the word all by itself. Truth is Truth. All of sudden in 2010 you have to change the word to accommodate people’s sins of today. NO WAY.. Pastor Floyd, you have the prayers of the righteous…MAY GOD BLESS YOU!!!

    Comment by Paris | May 2, 2010

    • Prophetess Floyd has the responsibility to preach as she sees fit. She does not have the right to harm people with misinterpreted texts, and neither does anyone. With respect, not even you. The same Bible you are using as a weapon against lesbians and gay men was once used against African Americans. That was an equally deplorable misinterpretation of the text. No responsible Christian pastor would condemn African Americans anymore by using biblical texts. But you find a way to condemn lesbians and gay men who are just as beloved by God as anyone else, and you do it in the name of God, which makes your misinterpretation particularly harmful and sad. Prophetess Floyd made a serious mistake at the Urgent Utterances Conference. Please do not compound her error by attacking LGBT people with the Bible in a way that God never intended it to be used. The issue isn’t whether any preacher is free to preach what the Holy Spirit dictates. The issue is that the Holy Spirit did not inspire that sermon, could not, because the texts people clobber LGBT people with are just as wrong as any every used to justify slavery, condemn women as witches, and exterminate Jewish people. Reasoned discourse is always welcome on this blog, Paris. Not abuse. Stop it. For Christ’s sake, stop it.

      Comment by unfinishedlives | May 3, 2010

    • Paris,
      Bible-based bigotry has always been a reality. It was present when white southern preachers used the Bible to support slavery from the pulput, and, as your comments and “Prophetess” Floyd’s indicate, this abuse of the Bible continues only with a different target. I at least take solace in knowing that just as God’s love eventually overcame the vile misuse of the Bible to keep slaves “in check,” it will also overcome modern-day attempts to use the Bible to condemn gays, lesbians, etc. The struggle may be long, but in the end you will find you and “Prophetess” Floyd are on the wrong side of God’s Justice. We will keep you in our thoughts and prayers.

      Comment by Carl | May 3, 2010

    • I am in the lifestyle, and believe it’s wrong. So, we need people like Prophetess Floyd to come out and shake “us up a bit.” The reason that there are so many people living the life, is because the Church is more accepting of it, and it’s just not right. Who cares if you leave the Church? At least you will leave knowing the truth, and the truth will set you free.

      Comment by Mary | December 8, 2011

      • Indeed, the truth will set people free, except it’s not the truth you think. The truth is that leaving a church which condemns LGBTQ people is simply following God. God does not abide bigotry, and neither should we.

        Perhaps one day you’ll find a church that understands you are who God made you, rather than deigning to question God’s creation. Such hubris to think they know better than God!

        Comment by Carl | December 8, 2011

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