A gay couple said they were tricked into attending a church service where they were attacked by the congregation, with one being held down while they prayed over him.
Since coming out in Spring this year, Sean Cormie had been asked repeatedly by his family to attend a service at their church, in Oklahoma, and to bring along his boyfriend, Gary Gardner.
Cormie told News 4: “I wanted to go to church to make my mom proud and make her happy.”
But towards the end of the service at the pentecostal church, First Assembly of God Blackwell, the pastor began making statements against homosexuality and the couple were surrounded by between 12 and 15 people praying over them, getting louder and louder.
According to Cormie, the pastor said: “It’s a sin, it’s an abomination, you need to realise, wake up, and see it for a sin.”
Gardner managed to leave, but when Cormie tried to follow he said he was thrown to the ground, punched in the face and held down while the congregation prayed for him.
He said: “They hold me down, pin me down, and I’m crying, and the Holy Spirit just comes through me, and they keep speaking in tongues, praying over me. I was just crying, ‘mercy, mercy’.”
Gardner told another outlet, News 9, his boyfriend “ended up with marks on his arms, a black eye and sort of blacked out”.
The couple have reported the incident to the police. The Blackwell police chief confirmed to News 4 that the incident is being investigated but would make no further comment.
The church released a statement saying: “First Assembly is a congregation that loves and is comprised of people from all different backgrounds.
“In response to allegations that have been made, this incident began as a family matter that escalated. Our church would never condone restraint of any person unless they were engaged in violent activity.
“There is much more to this story, and we are cooperating fully with law enforcement to bring all of the facts to light as a rush to judgment is not in anyone’s best interest.”The church is one of a large group of churches called Assemblies of God, which said in a statement on homosexuality: “There is also abundant evidence that homosexual behaviour, along with illicit heterosexual behaviour, is immoral and comes under the judgment of God…
“The Assemblies of God affirms the sexual complementarity of man and woman and teaches that any and all same-sex sexual attractions are to be resisted.