The Apostolic Truth Tabernacle in Greensburg, Indiana, has gained widespread attention this week following publication of a video purportedly showing a young boy singing a song about homosexuals and heaven. In the wake of the uproar surrounding the on-stage performance, the church is reportedly on lock-down. The furor has apparently been so intense, that church members report receiving death threats and the house of worship's pastor, Jeff Sangl, has purportedly gone into hiding.
Despite intense criticism, the Daily Mail claims that some church members are standing by the controversial performance. TMZ quotes one congregant who apparently doubled down on the song, claiming that it is rooted in Biblical teaching.
"The people who are upset just don't read the word of God," the church member said. "If we don't teach the children the truth early they will never learn."
As for the applause and support for the boy's singing, another member said, "Of course we applauded a child who is singing a song about God."
According to sources, Pastor Sangl apparently left for an unplanned vacation immediately following the national controversy and no one knows exactly where he went. Harassing calls and death threats have apparently followed as well, with the church going on to issue a statement on its web site. The May 30, 2012 statement reads:
The Pastor and members of Apostolic Truth Tabernacle do not condone, teach, or practice hate of any person for any reason. We believe and hope that every person can find true Bible salvation and the mercy and grace of God in their lives. We are a strong advocate of the family unit according to the teachings and precepts found in the Holy Bible. We believe the Holy Bible is the Divinely-inspired Word of God and we will continue to uphold and preach that which is found in scripture.
The boy, who many believe to be no older than five, seems to sing the anti-gay lyrics three times during his performance. The words, a play on Bishop G.E. Patterson's "I Know The Bible Is Right," are intensely troubling to gay advocates and others who believe this sort of rhetoric doesn't belong in houses of worship.
Here are Patterson's original lyrics: "I've told you time and time again, you can't make it to Heaven while you sippin' on gin' and 'I've told you once, I've told you twice, you can't make it to Heaven with a sweetheart and a wife."
And here's the young boy's version, complete with anti-gay sentiment: "I know the the Bible’s right, somebody’s wrong, the Bible’s right, somebody’s wrong, Romans one, twenty six and twenty seven, Ain’t no homos gonna make it to Heaven."
Sex columnist and gay rights activist Dan Savage had plenty to say about the incident, writing in his column that the church's location happens to be the same town where another boy was bullied to death. Additionally, he took some time to defend himself against anti-Christian charges:
The Apostolic Truth Tabernacle is in Greensburg, Indiana. That's the town where Billy Lucas was bullied to death for being perceived to be gay by his classmates. I wonder if they stood up and cheered at Apostolic Truth Tabernacle when Lucas died—hey, another homo in hell. I wonder if any of Lucas's tormenters attend services at Apostolic Truth Tabernacle. And remember: I'm an anti-Christian bully for pointing out the connection between what straight kids are taught about "homos" in the shithole mega-churches they're dragged to by their parents and what they turn around and do to "homos" they encounter in classrooms. And what if that precocious little four-year-old singer is gay?
Praise the Lord and pass the barf bags.
Watch the original video that sparked the controversy, below:
(H/T: Daily Mail)