Monday, July 16, 2012

Letter Re: Homophobic Association (sent July 10)

Dear Friends,

In an effort to influence local residents on a zoning issue, WPBT helped pay for and distribute a flier that carries their logo, as well as that of Impact Miami, a church led by homophobic preacher Jack Hakimian.

YouTube videos show Pastor Hakimian equating same-gender loving relationships to pedophilia (which is outrageous - mutual adult relationships have nothing to do with the abuse of power that takes place when an adult enters a relationship with a non-adult), claiming that the bible says gays can become non-gay (which is false - it says no such thing anywhere), and comparing same-sex love and attraction to drug abuse and witchcraft (which is too ridiculous to warrant a rebuttal).

On Facebook, Mr. Hakimian has posted, "I want to make clear that I disagree based on the scriptures that you can actively be gay and still call yourself a Christian."

He is certainly free to disagree, but he has neither the moral nor the institutional authority to determine who may call themselves anything. A Christian is one who is either culturally or historically part of a larger community that identifies as Christian, or one who actively participates in a worshiping congregation that has Jesus of Nazareth somehow as its central figure. Sexual identity does not make one a Christian nor does it exclude one from being a Christian.

Of course, Pastor Jack is entitled to his opinions and is free to share them with his congregation. Homophobia and heterosexism are not new and many have tried to disguise their prejudices as religious values. In a free country, one can express any opinion however hateful, hurtful, or exclusionary it may be.

But it seems problematic that WPBT would partner with such a divisive figure; it is at very least cause for concern for their LBGT viewers.

Of course, WPBT may deny that working with Impact Miami on one issue equals support of their oppressive rhetoric, but I'm not sure that argument is persuasive. The appearance is that a WPBT shares the values of Impact Miami, and if that is the case, the viewers have a right to know.

And so, I have written to the CEO of WPBT and the WPBT board members for whom I had email addresses. If you would like to express concern to the television station, contact CEO Rick Schneider (

Below is the letter I sent to Rick Schneider and various board members. I invite you to share your thoughts and concerns with WPBT as well.

Yours in the work for justice,

Durrell SIg

Rev. Durrell Watkins, D.Min.

From: Durrell Watkins
Sent: Tuesday, July 10, 2012 3:25 PM
To: ''
Cc: ''; ''; ''
Subject: wpbt2

"WPBT2 is a vibrant force in the South Florida community that entertains, enlightens, and educates. Our content changes lives, inspires trust, and makes a difference. We reflect the diversity of the region in which we live and work." - WPBT2 Mission Statement

The stated mission above is laudable. However, it was clearly not in the mind of decision makers when the station's logo was put on a flier next to the logo for an area church that promotes homophobia and intolerance.

The pastor of Impact Miami has a right to preach hatred and intolerance, and his church and your station have a right to oppose zoning changes, but to put your logos side by side without explanation gives the appearance of an ideological partnership that isn't enlightening, educational, life changing, or trust inspiring.

As a community resource, you might wish to cover what his church stands for as you might wish to cover what various churches, synagogues, civic organizations, spiritual and political groups stand for, but when lobbying for a specific political outcome to simply without equivocation place your logos side by side sends a disturbing message.

The rights of same-gender loving people are constantly under attack and religion is the excuse most often used for trying to deny them their civil liberties and social equality. Is it really appropriate to seem to align yourselves with an oppressive voice of intolerance simply because on one issue you share a common goal?

As a progressive minister committed to working for social justice and the healing of harm done by oppressive and abusive ideologies such as those proclaimed by the pastor of Impact Miami, I felt compelled to share with you how disappointing I find your choice to team with his church on your recent flier. I find that choice to be ill advised and certainly less than enlightened; I do not find that trust has been inspired in this case.

Thank you for allowing me to share my concerns.


Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
Senior Pastor
Sunshine Cathedral

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