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June 24th, 2010
09:27 AM ET

Woman sues church over gay marriage

Years before the nation's capital legalized same-sex marriage in March, one church in Washington, D.C., opened its doors to gay couples as part of its mission to establish an "inclusive body of Biblical believers."

Pastors Christine and Dennis Wiley performed a 2007 commitment ceremony at their altar.  That action split the historically black church, prompting half of the congregation to leave.

Yvonne Moore not only left Covenant Baptist, where she had worshipped for nearly 40 years: she filed a lawsuit for her weekly tithes because, as she said, "They didn't respect the members enough to listen to us."

Moore said she attended the 2007 commitment ceremony and found it "totally disgusting."

"I don't believe in that, I'm southern Baptist," Moore told CNN's Soledad O'Brien.  "The bible speaks against that. You cannot take that in the church."

So she sued the church for a portion of the estimated $250,000 that she estimates she had paid in weekly donations over the past 37 years.

Read how race and ethnicity can be a challenge to gay acceptance

Moore's now former pastors believe that gay rights are a natural extension of the black Civil Rights movement.

"I don't think we as a people have a lock on civil rights," Pastor Dennis Wiley said.

The struggle for civil rights is something that Moore can relate to:  Growing up in Florida, she said she was one of the first blacks to eat at a lunch counter in her hometown.

But she is still on the fence about comparing her situation, as an African-American, to that of the gay community.  She said Dennis Wiley asked her to consider the situation of her friend, who is gay.

"Dennis asked me ... 'How do you feel the way you were treated and just think about the way he was treated.'  And I was like, 'Oh, OK,'" Moore said.

She later dropped her lawsuit, but has not returned to the church.

Editor's note:  CNN's Soledad O'Brien follows a same-sex couple in their struggle against the legal and personal obstacles to become parents. Can these men achieve a life as mainstream as their parents? Watch "Gary and Tony Have a Baby," 8 p.m. ET Thursday.

- CNN.com Senior Producer

Filed under: Baptist • Belief • Gay marriage

soundoff (342 Responses)
  1. Lynn

    Maybe we need to consider that what is important about a church is what it does outside it's walls that is most important. Inside fighting is NOT one of the Gospel commandments such as: feed your neighbor or go make disciples.

    June 24, 2010 at 12:26 pm |
    • Selfish Gene

      I'm tired of paying for their food. Maybe the black churches should preach "Get a Job and earn your keep" instead of "Let go let god"

      June 25, 2010 at 1:47 pm |
  2. Erik

    The anger from both sides is disgusting. But the side advocating for human rights is the only side that I can support. I used to be a Christian, and I have read the Bible, and the problem with it is that people use their beliefs in the Bible and try and legislate their beliefs on the rest of the public. If you don't like gay people or gay marriage, then go to church and don't hang out or be around gay people. But as humans, gay people deserve the same rights and liberties that we all do. They are not asking for much, in my opinion, except to be treated as the rest of us are treated. That does not seem too much to ask. I would hope that religious people could understand a simple concept like that. The Bible may declare being gay as a sin, but in our society (where the Bible is not the rule of law) you must give equal rights to all people regardless of how you feel about them. I mean I hate child molesters and rapists and murderers and I think they should be killed, but our society lives by the rule of law so these people get the same legal rights as we all do when we are accused of a crime. Why is it so hard for people to let other people live their lives when it has no effect on their own?

    June 24, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
  3. Jen

    If a gay couple wants to adopt a child, I'm all for it. Like I said earlier, I'd rather see them in a loving home being taught acceptance than living their life lost in the system or being thrown through a series of abusive foster homes. Is that so wrong?

    June 24, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
  4. Terri L

    We are either a nation of equal rights or we aren't, our Constitution reads we are all equal therefore it is the law and there should be no arguement. Churches opperate as tax exempt entities and claim to welcome "sinners" so I am not sure how they can exclude one but not others? Fundies work under some pretty wishy washy rules following only the parts of the old testiment that allows them to be biggots.

    June 24, 2010 at 12:11 pm |
  5. Mel

    Yes, because two individuals (regardless of sex) who love and care for a child is so horrible. Especially these days when people have a tendency to toss their babies out with the garbage...

    June 24, 2010 at 12:01 pm |
    • hutch

      is that what happened to you mel? tossed out with the garbage? do you even know what love is? I doubt it

      June 24, 2010 at 1:39 pm |
  6. canadah

    True Christians will stick to their beliefs and follow Gods laws. If you truly believe, then you know when the end comes where the immoral ( all deliberate wrongs) will be going. Have faith and live forever in peace. Lose faith and forever suffer in eternal anguish. The choice you make is everlasting. Good or bad. Humankind cannot govern itself. Peace out. Jesus lives.

    June 24, 2010 at 11:58 am |
  7. SSgt Mason

    I am sitting here at work in complete amazment. I am in the military and continue to think about how the potential endo fo Don't Ask Don't Tell will impact the military...mmm I dont think it will change it all that much to be frank. But reading this it saddens me because rather than imbracing the individuals within her church she pulled away. If she truly had such a conviction that it was wrong then isn't the Christian view to embrace the"sinner" not the sin and not to turn you back upon others. Ultimately, her own intolerance and her inability to be a true practicing Christian drove her out of the church and to seek repayment of money given to the church to do God's will/work. UGH can i find a TRUE CHRISTIAN? One who will not pass judgement? Who will actively embrace the teachings of Christ? Would have Jesus turned his back on his flock?

    June 24, 2010 at 11:57 am |
    • Heather

      THANK YOU! It isn't the well who need a doctor, it is the sick. How can we help them see Christ's love and light when we are trying so hard to push them away?

      June 24, 2010 at 12:06 pm |
    • canadah

      If a sinner doesn't see oneself has being a sinner, what is there to embrace? They don't want to change themselves, they want to change the church to suit them. Big difference. The free world is a cesspool of immoral and indecent acts. As long as the masses embrace wrong, wrong will become the new right.

      June 24, 2010 at 12:07 pm |
    • Heather

      So you think that Christians should give up and turn their backs on sinners? Would Jesus have done that?

      June 24, 2010 at 12:10 pm |
    • Jen

      I think the question that all Christian's need to ask themselves in regards to this topic is WWJD?

      June 24, 2010 at 12:14 pm |
    • canadah

      Yes Jesus would turn his back on his flock if his flock turned their back on him. He seeks those who seek him.

      June 24, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
    • canadah

      Heather. Jesus expects you to listen and follow his way not try and convince him to follow your way. If one truly wants to be a good christian then follow the laws not prance around like some Disney fairy.

      June 24, 2010 at 12:19 pm |
    • Heather

      So, if someone turns their back, that is permanent? Once you make the choice to not be a Christian, there is no going back. Is that true? What about those who go their whole lives without Christ, only to realize the mistake and finally call on him? Were they faking it? Everyone has the ability to accept Christ, the only difference is that God knows who's name is or isn't written in the Book of Life. As humans, we have no way of knowing that. It may be our influence that finally gets someone to Heaven. I would rather stand before Christ knowing that I helped save a soul or two, rather than giving up early on someone who stood a chance.

      June 24, 2010 at 12:20 pm |
    • Jen

      I have a question. I'm not a Christian. I'm agnostic. How can you people, in good conscience, claim to know what Jesus would or wouldn't do? Did you know him when he was alive? Were you his BFF growing up? Maybe the Bible is a guide, but different people interpret the Bible in different ways. How can you expect to know how Jesus would interpret it?

      June 24, 2010 at 12:24 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      I am a non believer, if one of the believers can explain the following I think I will have a better understanding of beliefs. If there was a GOD (I know to you there is a GOD) how could we as mere humans ever expect to understand a being of that magnitude. Another thing, GOD will have to be so far removed from our realm of understanding (time, space, matter, energy) as to be incomprehensible. To say we know what he likes, dislikes, wants, needs, or anything strikes me as odd that it is all the things that the individual speaking likes, dislikes, wants.... just asking Thanks for your reply.

      June 24, 2010 at 12:54 pm |
    • Heather

      JohnQuest, you are right. God is such a wonderful, glorious being, that it would be impossible to know everything about him. The answer to your question is this... that is why God gave us the Bible. Yes, it may have been written by men, but it was ordained by God. He used these men to write down everything he wanted us to know. To non-believers that must sound crazy, I will admit, but when you are a Christian, that is your lifeline. He tells us how we should live our lives in a way that brings glory to Christ, and true Christians will strive every single day to do just that. I have a question for you, and I am not trying to be sarcastic, I am honestly asking... have you ever sat down with an OPEN heart and read the Bible? I don't mean reading it to make fun of it or to pick it apart. If you have read more than a few verses, you will see that it is more than a storybook (whereas much of the OT seems to be just that). It gives us guidelines to live by and parables to back it up. Jesus gives us examples so there can be little guessing as to the meaning. If you really want to answer your own question, take a look. The word "pleasing" is in there more times than I can count. God tells us what is pleasing to him (also what is not). This is just one instance: "Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen." Hebrews 13:20-21. Like I said, this may not make sense to a non-believer, but when you are a Christian, you fully understand. There may be times when get it wrong, but I can promise you that our God is a living God who has his hand in everything. If I make a mistake, I pray about it. I can't tell you how many times I have come to realize the error of my ways, even when I thought I was right. When you have a personal relationship with Christ, everything falls in to place. I urge you to just look online and find one book from the NT (only because it is sure to talk about Christ) and read it through. You may not agree with it, but what could it hurt?

      June 24, 2010 at 1:53 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Heather, thank you for this open and honest dialog, I have read the Bible, I have to admit it doesn't make a lot of sense. Looking at the big picture of human endeavors, GOD doesn't seem to play a big roll, for instance, wars, earthquakes, cancers, and the like. Even bigger that those, why would an all powerful GOD care who we little beings sleep with or what we eat or any other day to day affair? Why would he NEED for us to worship him? I say need because if we don't he punishes us (think Noah and the flood). Don't get me wrong when I read the Bible I read it in the context of the entire human experience, looking at it that way I have heard others say the same things you are saying but every time they speak of what GOD has done for them it turns out what they mean is that, look at what they did for themselves or what someone else has done for them. For example, I had no money to pay my mortgage, I hit the lottery or my brother gave me the money or I got a bonus at work, all just in time, must be the GOD, see where I'm going.

      June 24, 2010 at 2:39 pm |
    • Kerry

      Jesus does not turn his back on sinners, they turn their back on him! They chose to turn to wickedness and sin. In fact Jesus hung out with sinners, did he not? YES. But because of his presence they were convicted of their sin. We as Christians do not have to say anything, yet because of Jesus' presence in our lives, others are convicted. SSGT MASON
      no one is passing judgment. Why is it when a Christian stands up for morality, and holy living that we are all of a sudden judgmental. When we all die, we will not have an argument, we all will stand before the only judge and that is Jesus Christ. Whenever we stand up for truth, we will be judged by you, is that not fair to say? Who cares the issue is sin, and people do not like to be confronted on their immoral lifestyles.

      June 24, 2010 at 10:51 pm |
    • DanW

      You are right that embacing the sinner is the Christian thing to do. But embracing the sin is not. The fact is that the leadership of her church chose to embrace the sin, along with the sinner. In that case a Christian is supposed to withdraw (and, yes, that is Biblical - 2Th 3:6 "But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly..."). She was wrong, however, in suing the pastors and may have come to that realization, since she withdrew the suit.

      June 25, 2010 at 12:49 am |
  8. Jen

    Hey, lbobo, I did. I read the article. They still didn't have a baby. They took the sperm of one of the men and used an egg DONATED BY A WOMAN and the child was CARRIED BY A SURROGATE. The two men DID NOT have a child TOGETHER, and then did a second-parent ADOPTION. Maybe you should try reading the article itself and not just the headline.

    June 24, 2010 at 11:57 am |
  9. Keith

    My question is for those who think being gay is behavior problem. Since straight parents are the ones breeding gay children, what are you all doing to your children to turn them gay? Is it a bigger sin to break a commandment or just a small sin in the Bible? As for Mrs. Moore I am not sure why she would have gone to a gay ceremony if she found it disgusting. I just hope all the money she has paid her church has bought her judgmental soul it's way into heaven.

    June 24, 2010 at 11:53 am |
  10. Jeff

    Yes, yes, the bible says it's wrong. The bible also tells me not to eat shellfish and to stone my disobedient children.

    I have never heard a convincing argument from a fundamentalist to escape this essential conundrum. If everything in the Book is the Word and fundamental to life on earth and determines our fate for eternity, then how do some rules just "go away?"

    June 24, 2010 at 11:51 am |
    • Heather

      A lot of people in Jesus' time had this same question. There are so many laws and limitations of the Old Testament and it was impossible to follow them all. When asked about the importance of these many laws, Jesus replied that there are two main commandments to keep... he said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself." Forget the shellfish argument, because it is weak. Anyone who has ever read the New Testament knows that Jesus was sent so we wouldn't be judged based on how well we kept the laws of the OT.

      June 24, 2010 at 12:00 pm |
    • Terri L

      Jeff I am sure you know they all pick and choose from the Bible whatever works to justify their own beliefs. Always have, always will. Jesus would be ashamed of all the hypocrits claiming to be His followers.

      June 24, 2010 at 12:04 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Heather, if what you are saying is true, then being gay is not a sin and all those including yourself who might discriminate against gays are the sinners. I don't think Jesus said anything about gays being a sin. Are we accepting everything in the New and only what we want from the Old?

      June 24, 2010 at 12:20 pm |
    • Heather

      I am not God. I cannot tell you whether or not someone will make it to Heaven. I can tell you that if they truly believe in God and have felt the power of Jesus in their life, they will be consumed with an urge to live a life that is pleasing to him. If a gay person can truly say they firmly believe in Jesus Christ and they feel that their life is pleasing to God, I guess I will see how God felt about that when I make it to Heaven. Do not get me wrong... the OT just doesn't disappear because Jesus came. The difference is how we were going to be judged. As Christians, we are still supposed to strive to live our lives according to what God has commanded, but we must know that there will be times when we fall. That is when we are able to know that Jesus has saved us. We cannot and will not continue to revel in the sin that we have fallen, but it is God's grace and mercy that picks us up. If we continue to live a life that is against God's law, we are not loving him (Jesus' first commandment). In my eyes, the gay lifestyle goes against how God has commanded us to live. Like I said though, I am not God so I cannot pass judgement. I don't know where their name is written.

      June 24, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      Yes, yes, you just can't seem to be more ignorant than what you have already proven!

      June 24, 2010 at 7:26 pm |
    • Kerry

      Jeff, because what you speak about is in the Old Testament. If you go a bit farther in reading into the New Testament, we are no longer living under the Old Covenant. Jesus came, (New Covenant) andlgave us a better covenant. Jesus Christ came to do away with the law. (RULES and REGULATIONS) no longer do we sacrifice animals to cover our sin, but Jesus was the sacrifice that has the power to WASH away our sins and not just cover them. Read the Gospels, Pharisees woul explains things about how men under the old covenant would handle things, but in the New Testament (NEW COVENANT) Jesus says, "BUT I SAY UNTO YOU..... etc....so no we do not stone our children, Jesus says to discipline them, do not spare the rod, etc...I hope this helps.
      Because I am a believer and I have a personal relationship with God, I hear him speak. It is awesome. And sometimes as a Christian I do not understand somethings, so I go directly to him and ask Him what things mean, in the Bible. And he shows me. MY GOD is real, and has spoken to me when I was not expecting Him to speak. Even when I was mad at Him, did not want to serve him any longer, I felt him ....and that broke me because here I was experiencing his love when I was angry, mad and rebellious towards him. He still wanted to be with me even though I was so crappy towards him, that is when I really new He loved me unconditionally. I will never forget that day. I serve Him because I know him personally, not because I go to church, volunteer, etc, etc etc....the western church world has said you had to do abc, 123, and all God wants is a personal relationship with HIM. That is it! Nothing more nothing less. I hope that helps. When i got saved 20 some years ago,
      for a whole year I did not really go to a church...I just was in love with Jesus, but because I started going to a church that was legalistic, I ended up for a few years loosing my passion for Jesus, because it became more like what Can I do for go, it was all about what I did instead of just being me and loving him. Thank goodness I left that church and found joy in just loving Jesus, no pressure to perform, but found my relationship with him once again.

      June 24, 2010 at 10:42 pm |
  11. Heather

    What people fail to realize is that Christians are called Christians because they believe in the teachings of the Bible and of Jesus Christ. They believe these things to be true, so they put their total faith in them and most strive to live according to the laws and commandments put forth in their religious text. So when they are told a certain lifestyle or behavior is wrong, they will believe it and they will fight for or against it. That is what religion is. Regardless of what others think, you choose to believe in and have faith in things you know are true. The same can be said for any other religion out there. The problem is that others attack Christians because their stance on certain things that have become so acceptable is often regarded as hateful or unfair. Christians do not believe in the same things that non-believers believe in, so they feel that the non-believers are wrong. The non-believers do not believe in the same things that Christians believe in, so they feel the Christians are wrong. It is a horrible cycle. Just as with anything else, there are certain people out there that ruin it for the whole lot. Jesus does not teach us to attack and berate those that sin. Instead, he tells us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. That does not mean we are to support sinful behavior, but rather we are to stand firm in our beliefs in a way that portrays Christ's love for all. I will tell you that I do not support homosexuality simply because I believe it is wrong. The Bible tells me it is, and that is where I place my faith. At the same time, I do not hate anyone based on their sexual preference. It goes with the saying, "Hate the sin, not the sinner." I think a lot of Christians have lost that balance between love and acceptance. Instead of going forth with negative behavior and attitudes, we need to let our lights shine. That, however, does not mean we have to accept the unacceptable. Find the balance that Christ embodied. I am sure this will cause a great deal of flack, but that is the thing... it does not matter. Even atheists stand firm in their beliefs; Christians have that right as well. I just hope they choose to be caring and thoughtful when sharing their beliefs, rather than continue to push people away from Christ.

    June 24, 2010 at 11:49 am |
    • kapukane

      Is it wrong to be white? Is it wrong to be black? Is it wrong to have red hair?......so you see your post makes little sense.

      Being gay is a God given, innate, natural, unchangable, biological, wonderful part of a person. The bible on the other hand is man made created myth. That is a fact. Educate yourself on the making of the Bible and early Christianity. Education is the only way to combat ignorance. I'm praying for you.

      June 24, 2010 at 12:23 pm |
    • Tuth

      I agree.

      June 24, 2010 at 1:14 pm |
    • Tuth

      I agree what Heather said.

      June 24, 2010 at 1:16 pm |
    • Heather

      That is where I disagree. Drug addicts are not born to be drug addicts. Alcoholics are not born to be alcoholics. We are born free and without sin. You can disagree with me all you want and try to cast down my beliefs, but it will not work. I am sorry you feel the way you do, and likewise, I will be praying for you.

      June 24, 2010 at 1:38 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      Speak, girl!!!! Preach His Mighty Word.....God bless all of my family in Christ who are standing for what we believe!!

      June 24, 2010 at 7:25 pm |
    • BELIVER

      AMEN HEATHER....our country has gotten so far away from the truth, and twisted what the word love means; it is the Churches fault. Allowing the world to come into the church instead of standing up at no matter what cost. God help us in the near future. Thanks Heather. Great post!

      June 24, 2010 at 10:05 pm |
    • Kerry

      Heather, this is to one of your posters who said the bible is not real. Why is it the only book that has lasted over 2000 years, and no other book has on the face of the earth. Why is it that archeologists have found Noah's Ark in recent years? Why are they continually finding places in Israel of cities, and specific scrolls that where written by Isaiah found in caves?
      Why are they finding bones of human Giants in the middle east, explaining Goliath in the Bible. Why is it that when I called on Jesus to forgive me of my sin, my LIFE was radically changed forever. Seems to me this person needs to get EDUCATED on biblical evidence and research. Seems to me this person needs to go to China to see believers persecuted and put into prison for years and years because they refused to denounce the name of Jesus. Willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to get their hands on a bible. Seems to me and very sad that American people know ABOUT GOD, AND REJECT HIM, but are the most blessed nation on the face of the earth. That has only been the grace of God. WILL you than blame God for taking your job, house, money, etc, etc....no, you only need to blame yourself for believing there is no God. I find it very disgusting to find people who do not believe in God, blame Him for all the bad things that happen in their lives. IRONIC isn't it.

      June 24, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
  12. neil

    And CNN won't post anything of a different view point

    June 24, 2010 at 11:44 am |
    • Larry

      your right I've posted twice and it was not allowed, this wont be either

      June 24, 2010 at 12:01 pm |
  13. neil

    ""Dennis asked me ... 'How do you feel the way you were treated and just think about the way he was treated.' And I was like, 'Oh, OK,'" Moore said."

    This is such bull

    June 24, 2010 at 11:41 am |
  14. neil

    this article is so lame

    June 24, 2010 at 11:40 am |
  15. Sarah

    Pete, isn't this funny, I just thought the same thing about you!

    June 24, 2010 at 11:37 am |
  16. Ibobo

    Hey, Jen. Pay attention. Note Soledad Obrien's story about TWO MEN HAVING A BABY, below.

    June 24, 2010 at 11:36 am |
  17. maggie

    Yeah rp, there actually is quite a bit of evidence that gays are born that way. You just choose not to believe in the evidence. Kind of like I choose not to believe in the Bible...oh wait, there actually IS NO EVIDENCE that the Bible is really the word of a divinity. Big difference.

    June 24, 2010 at 11:34 am |
    • Evidence demands proof.

      Archeology finds over in the promise land have been digging up stuff that mirrors history in the bible. They found on the sea floor of the red sea hundreds of wagon wheels, that were constructed just like those were in the time of Moses when Pharoah's army was wiped out in that very sea. They also found a couple of areas that contain a wide layer of cinders of ashes, pointing to the burning of Sodom and Gomarrah. Just a couple of finds among thousands or even millions of things found that point to the historical account of the bible. Archelolgy has yet to contradict the bible. What exactly did the scientists find to prove that you are born with homosexuality? Is the evidence overwhelming or based on a hypothesis?

      June 25, 2010 at 12:27 am |
  18. Mark

    So you "choose" who to fall in love with?

    June 24, 2010 at 11:31 am |
  19. CG

    I agree!

    June 24, 2010 at 11:30 am |
  20. Tatiana

    Ignorance is bliss – she condones her actions of judging others in the name of God and the Bible, yet she too was judged and discrimnated against at one point in her life. Hopefully one day she'll actually find God and what it means to truly love and embrace the differences in our world.

    June 24, 2010 at 11:29 am |
    • Terri L

      Right...to top it off the Bible teaches not to sue yet she sued her church!

      June 24, 2010 at 12:00 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.