My observations on the happenings that took place at various local churches this past Sunday. In response to the whole Proposition 8 deal, local protests and activism events took place at a few churches this past Sunday. The largest took place downtown at the Cornerstone Church (1545 Fulton St.). There were about 20 people present who were handing out flowers with the message, “Do onto others as you would have them do onto you.” A simple message, right? Some of the people handing out the flowers expressed that the flowers were symbols of God’s love for all. A number of people entering the church took the flowers with them as they walked in. But that’s where things got a little… interesting.
Video courtesy of Diva X
Just outside of the church, a crowd of church officials were standing around in a very authoritative manner, as if to keep the flower handlers from entering the building. Not only were the church officials trying to keep the flower handlers out, but also the flowers themselves. The flowers were being forcefully taken from people walking in, and were thrown into the trash right next to the door. By the end of the first service the trash can was overflowing with flowers.
Most members of the church didn’t seem to mind what was going on, but a few of them turned around and left the church stating they didn’t want to be part of a church that was going to be like that. You may be wondering how I know that the flowers were being forcefully taken from members and church goers. Well, at one point just before the first service, Pastor Jim Franklin invited the flower handlers inside and asked them to join the church for the service. Not only did Franklin invite us in, but asked Robin McGehee, organizer of the Cornerstone flower brigade, to come on stage and speak with him to his congregation.
After lingering around outside for about five minutes while the majority of the people went inside, a friend and I also made our way into the church. Right as we were walking into the church, the man standing at the door took my friend’s flower and then attempted to take mine saying they were not allowed inside of the church. I held onto my flower and didn’t let him take it. I then asked him where the rest of my party was seated and he instructed me upstairs. Arriving upstairs, my friend and I were greeted by some isle hosts and then sat down with the rest of the group. The service started shortly thereafter, immediately going into Jim Franklin inviting Robin McGehee onto the stage. Franklin went on to say that he and Robin had been friends for a whileI’m sorry, but I just have to say that i find that hard to believe, but on with the scoop!and then went into his speech about how he respects us. Franklin also said that although we may disagree with each other about this one issue, we still have respect for one another.
After his whole song and dance about respect, he asked the flower brigade members to join him in prayer. Before taking Franklin’s hand for prayer, Robin set her bouquet of flowers on Franklin’s podium for the whole church to see. After prayer we were back outside, discussing how much hypocrisy was being spewed around. It left us wondering how many more lies were going to be told. It was around this time that I received an update from Robin that the flower groups at other churches weren’t doing so well in numbers and asked if any of us wanted to go and support them. I decided that I would visit all of the places of worship that we were having demonstrations at and ask a few questions. Some other members of the Cornerstone flower brigade also left the church after hearing that the demonstration outside of the Church Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was more vocal than Cornerstone.
At the Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints (5685 N Cedar Ave.), the activist crowd was pretty small, probably consisting of about nine people who were holding signs and trying to hand out the flowers. Unfortunately, they were quite unsuccessful because there was Mormon security at every entrance to the parking lot. The security would not allow the people to come on the church grounds to hand out the flowers. When I asked the church’s spokesperson why there were church members standing around like security guards, she replied that the church was trying to protect its members, implying that the people trying to hand out flowers may get out of hand. She had no comment about how she or her church felt about the protesters standing outside, but the look on her face answered the question enough for me. When I asked Michael Eswine, another organizer of the flower brigade, how he planned to be able to hand the flowers out, he told me that they where going to try handing them out as the people left the service because it was nearly impossible to get them to the members as they where going in. The people driving by the church seemed very supportive though, and I heard many honks in my fifteen minutes there.
Right down the street at the St. Paul Newman Center (1572 East Barstow Ave.), the mood was quite different then it had been at the other two locations. The flower handlers were actually allowed on the property and able to stand near the walkways in the shade. They handed out the carnations with the message on them uninterrupted. A majority of the people going in took the flowers and brought them into service with them. Upon going inside I noticed a few flowers lying on a bench just outside the worship center, but most, if not all, where brought inside during the worship. During my time spent inside, I heard not one ill word spoken about those outside handing out the message of God’s love for all.
Lastly I would like to say that his whole thing has been quite crazy, and has affected me personally in a very negative psychological way. Being a gay man living in the state of California, I must say this whole Proposition 8 deal has made me quite depressed, but at the same time has started a fire inside of me. The question over Proposition 8 was never and still isn’t about one’s beliefs about marriage being between members of the same sex. But rather, it was always whether or not you believe everyone should have the same rights. It wasn’t a question of morality, but a question of ethics. I am sad to say that Proposition 8 was a test that California has failed for the time being.