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. Jim

    I have no problem with you expressing your beliefs or opinions. I do have a problem with you referring to those beliefs and opinions as truths. I have the same problem with churches or any other religious group doing the same.

    June 24, 2010 at 6:03 pm |
    • ed

      Jim so what do you use or how do you decide what is truth and was is not

      June 24, 2010 at 6:55 pm |
    • Eric G.

      Verifiable evidence.

      June 24, 2010 at 7:39 pm |
  2. TheRationale

    If people are annoyed by the private lifestyles of others then they should really find a better use for their time.

    June 24, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  3. frustrated

    ok. whether you are a strong christian or are for gay rights 🙂 the problem i have is when SOME christians get on here and try to preach to everyone else. its fine if you disagree with other people.. you can secretly think we're all going to hell or that our souls are lost or we're possessed by the devil or whatever you want to believe. but NO ONE wants to be saved. no one wants your opinion.. because we already believe in something.. the same way you don't want our opinion because you already believe in something. so stop preaching. please. its very annoying.

    June 24, 2010 at 4:57 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      It is the will of my Father God to proclaim the Gospel of the Good News for those that are dying and are lost eternally. We preach His Word, not our word. Mankind's word is worthless, but God's Word is life that can save your soul.

      June 24, 2010 at 7:40 pm |
    • Mary

      As annoying as people who do not believe in God are when they call believers names? Ridicule and make judgments as to their mental capabilities?
      It's odd how I keep hearing people complain about religious people and yet the most brutal and mean comments are directed 'at' religious people..Simply for believing in a higher authority.. Because that is what religion is..It is believing we have a higher authority and must answer to him for the things we choose to do.. 'All ' of us must answer to him.

      June 24, 2010 at 8:32 pm |
  4. Jim

    My intention is not to insult anyone but rather to ask them to think rather than just react based on prior conditioning. In my opinion, most Christian religions and most people claiming to be Christian are not true followers of the teachings of Jesus. It would be much more accurate description to be called Reformed Jews since the bible is made up of two radically different books. Ancient Jewish law, and Christ's revisionist teachings recorded and often times, interpreted by his followers. To honestly refer to one's self as a Christian if you use elements of the old testament trump Jesus's teachings in the new testament every time you feel like hating someone. Some self professed Christians still use the old testament to justify slavery. Remember, Christ taught forgiveness, refuting "eye for an eye". He was totally non violent, he had Peter put away his sword in the garden. Many Christians truly try to live according to Christ's two commandments, but many more can't decide which camp they are really in.

    June 24, 2010 at 4:52 pm |


    June 24, 2010 at 4:39 pm |
    • bostonjim

      First off Writter, there's a key on your keyboard right above the shift key. It has the words "Caps Lock" on it. Press that once. That will take care of the fact that you come off as a frothing lunatic. Then, take a breath and try to make your point again. This time, more point to it and less disjointed rambling.

      June 24, 2010 at 4:54 pm |
  6. Ray

    Why is this news? The woman dropped a lawsuit she would never win. Desn't matter what a church does with a donation, once it's theirs it's theirs.

    June 24, 2010 at 4:38 pm |
  7. Dee

    Larry you said if you can't procreate you can't get married???

    Does that apply to infertile hetero couples?

    Does that apply to hetero couples who choose to remain childless?

    If not, why not?

    June 24, 2010 at 3:27 pm |
    • Larry @DEE

      NO, NO, AND NO.

      June 24, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
  8. ezra

    "Man wrote the Bible not God"
    To say that means you know nothing about the holy scripture!

    June 24, 2010 at 3:13 pm |
    • USN_Atheist

      To say that means that man, or rather men, wrote the bible to intrepret what they did not understand or what they wanted people to believe. Using fear (do this or go to hell) to control the masses fear of the unknown (death) for one example.

      June 24, 2010 at 3:40 pm |
  9. Dave

    If people are born gay why do they start talking in a different tone and with a lisp after they have come out of the closet?

    Gay people should be allowed to have something legal saying they are together but DONT call it a marriage and please keep it far far away from church.

    June 24, 2010 at 3:08 pm |
  10. Reality

    See Wikipedia's review on s-–l ori--- and gay unions since the moderators refuse to allow any direct quotes or summaries on any subject posted by educated groups from on-line sources. How strange!!! Then there is that list of unknown, forbidden words

    June 24, 2010 at 3:04 pm |
  11. Kure

    Man wrote the Bible not God. I still dont understand how an educated person in todays age can follow and live there life by a book that was written over thousands of years ago. Thousands of years ago women, slaves and basically anybody poor were considered dirt and below the common man. Do we still believe that a women or minority cant do everything that a man can do today? Thousands of years ago the people thought the earth was the center of the universe and the world was flat. Can you really look at someone in the face and say you still believe that? Over these thousands of years we have learned much on how the world really works and not that everything was done by gods and monsters. What is holding our progress back as a species is the hate and stupidity that these so called religions teach and expect their followers to live by. Wake up people as you only have one life to live so live it by what you know not what you think is out there. As far as I know not 1 person in the history of the world has gone to heaven or hell and come back to verify that there is such a thing. The only good thing I have ever learned from the religion I was raised as (Roman Catholic) is that to treat people as you wish to be treated. If everyone followed this one guide to life the world would be a much better place.

    June 24, 2010 at 2:58 pm |
  12. Leah (TXanimal)

    One thing I know for sure: religion IS a choice.

    June 24, 2010 at 2:39 pm |
  13. TampaMan

    The point that is being missed here is personal liberty and community.
    Ms. Moore has a right to celebrate her faith OR NOT as she chooses.
    Her right is NOT being respected.

    Gay couples who attend the church OR NOT have a right to celebrate as they choose OR NOT.

    The road of liberty and personal rights is a two way street.
    If one person's liberty is violated then that of everyone else is worth a little less.
    All are in jeopardy of its ultimate loss.

    Even the Gay couple is in danger of losing it the end.

    June 24, 2010 at 2:00 pm |
    • Krissy

      What is irking most people is she sued the Church basically for allowing gay marriage. If she didn't like the direction the Church was going, then that's fine, leave.

      June 24, 2010 at 2:26 pm |
  14. Larry @Bob@Larry

    You neither understand what I wrote nor apparently what you read in the bible? I doubt. Infertile, and eldery, physically have the ability to procreate, they are simply infertile or to old but the basic equipment is there. Maybe they had surgery, but the equipment was still there to begin with. You know this. Keep reading the bible there is hope for you. As for the rest of your comments this is not about levys or divorce or wether or not i'm a literalist.

    June 24, 2010 at 1:53 pm |
  15. Eric G.

    Believers say that the bible states that being gay is wrong. So, they deduct that their god hates gays. Next, they think that because their god hates gays, it's ok for them to say that they hate gays too. After all, the bible tells us who god loves and who he hates, and believers think that their god loves them. This is what they are really afraid of........ Their god does not exist, and because he does not exist, nobody loves them.

    June 24, 2010 at 1:46 pm |
  16. Joe Mustich, JP

    Kudos to the Wileys!
    Onward to full civil and marriage rights,
    Joe Mustich, Justice of the Peace,
    Washington, Connecticut, USA.

    June 24, 2010 at 1:36 pm |
  17. John

    People who use the bible as a reason to hate gays will be the ones burning in hell. God knows who is insincere. Do these people also go on and on about people not eating shellfish which is also in the bible? Of course they don't. They are just using a few stoneage passages (written by humans by the way) to justify their hatred. This casting of stones is not what Jesus taught us. May he have mercy on the souls of those who hate in his name but I doubt he will.

    June 24, 2010 at 1:11 pm |
    • Suzanne

      God hates sin, but loves the sinner. If you read the bible, this would be clear.

      June 24, 2010 at 2:47 pm |
  18. Tuth

    If it wasn't for God's grace and mercy everyone would be dead including me, but by the grace and his mercy I'm here today. So many people are living by God grace, and don't realize it. Don't take it the wrong way. I'm not talking about those that chose to be gay. I don't agree with their choice and don't care what they do in the privacy in their home or who they choose to love. It has nothing to do with me and I'm not losing any sleep. I just know what I believe and that's that. Only God can and will judge. All I can do is pray. Those that chose to speak against God and don't have a clue, and they don't know God and what he is capable of. Non believers their life is fill with anger and blame God for what there going through. In my opinion. Yes, the word; the bible does say not to judge. We as people judge and look at outter appearance and God looks at the heart. People are going to be people the bottom line whether your Christian or not. As Christians, bible believers', non believers', people are not perfect and never will. Everyone has a date and time to die and meet with the Lord on judgment day. No one will escape it. Life is too short and fragile for all the nonsense. No one is promise for tomorrow. 7. But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

    June 24, 2010 at 1:03 pm |
    • Erik

      You choose to believe. I choose to think. And don't say that non-believers are angry and blame God for everything. In fact, it is the opposite. I grew up believing in God and never once did he show himself to me. Now that I don't believe, (in something that has never been proven) I actually feel better about my life than ever. In addition, I don't blame God, I blame people for the problems of the world.

      If you want to live a great life, you don't need to believe in a supernatural being, all you need to do is stay positive and think for yourself. I only listen to people with facts, not people who believe in unproven ideas.

      June 24, 2010 at 1:10 pm |
  19. lori ann

    hi ith

    June 24, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
  20. Believer

    I have friends who are gay. I personally do not have a problem with them having a "marriage". I actually wish it would be required just so that they have proff of it for work benefits.

    But I also do not believe that a gay marriage should be performed in a church. Civil ceramony, fine. But a church is supposed to be God's house – sorry but the if you want to be married there then you should at least belive what the bible says. as to her suing – just crazy.

    And for all those slinging mud against Chrisitans – get a grip. We are not perfect nor claim to be. Most true Christians try to live their lives without commiting sin. I have seen both sides and people who claim to be Christian on Sundays but out gossiping, sleeping around, stealing, etc during the 6 other days. God will judge them at their time

    June 24, 2010 at 12:27 pm |
    • kapukane

      God created gays....so they are part of God's house and creation. The bible on the other hand was written, forged, and corrupted by man.

      June 24, 2010 at 12:40 pm |
    • Heather

      For the most part, I agree with what you said, Believer. To Kapukane, I think you are missing the point. There is no Christianity without the Bible. That is our lifeline. Most religions have a religious text that they follow, and the Bible is ours. That is what we believe and what we follow. It may have been written by men, but it was ordained by God. He chose those that he wanted to speak through, so they are his words. You may choose to believe otherwise, but you will be hard pressed to change a Christians mind. With that said, nowhere in the Bible does it say we are born gay, so for a Christian to believe that as fact goes against everything we stand for. You may disagree, but that does not change our mind. With that said, the Bible also tells us how we should treat our neighbor. We are to love them and help them. Even if you disagree with me, I will continue to respect you and know that God really does love you and wants you to accept him. You are on my heart.

      June 24, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Believer, I think I too am guilty of the following offense. Through all this talk about GOD we all have made a critical error, we are presupposing two important concepts. First we are presupposing that there is a GOD, second we are presupposing that GOD exist, neither has been established, we just assume that both of those statements are true (not just true for the individual making the statement but an actual fact like water is wet). Beyond that we can discuss what GOD wants us to do or think or act. The core of the argument has to have a solid foundation or nothing can stand on it not even belief. Do you guy not agree?

      June 24, 2010 at 3:01 pm |
    • Kerry

      Believer, than their not Christians if they do all those vile wicked things that they are doing. Christian means Christ like. And they are far from it. They can fool themselves all they want and say their Christians all they want, their only fooling themselves and believing a lie. My co workers say the same thing, that they are Christians, but their life style does not back it up!! You need to confront them, and tell them they are Hippocrates and put them in their place and call them sinners. Just maybe they will repent and get right if someone stands up and says its wrong what their doing.

      June 24, 2010 at 11:04 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.