Jewish and gay: Texas disaster volunteer ‘sacked’ by church
Carmen Hix, pictured above left with her partner Christia Fiddmont-Norfleet, got the bum’s rush from a Texas church at which she was volunteering after it was discovered that she was Jewish – and a lesbian.
According to this report, after seeing the destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey in her area, Hix – a 64-year-old Navy combat veteran – heard that Calvary Houston, a nondenominational church in Friendswood, where she lives, was in need of volunteers.
Hix, who decided to take off a week from work and donate $500 worth of food to the church, said she volunteered to work at the church’s food bank. Each morning, volunteers met for prayer before they began working. During the prayers, Hix bowed her head out of respect for the rest of the group. At the end of the prayers, she would quietly say, “Shalom”.
At one point, Hix said another volunteer began asking questions about her personal life. Hix told the volunteer that she was Jewish and had raised two children with her partner of 20 years.
Later Calvary Pastor Ron Hindt and a volunteer supervisor asked to speak with her in private. Said Hix:
I thought they wanted to talk to me about further volunteer efforts. I was so unprepared for the conversation that ensued.
Hix said she was asked why she said “Shalom” at the end of prayers. When she responded that she was Jewish, Hindt told her that she could no longer serve because she didn’t share the church’s beliefs.
I asked, ‘So if I were a liar with an evil heart, and I told you what you want to hear, that I am a Christian, I would be allowed to continue to contribute to those less fortunate than I?’
I was told, “Yes,” Hix said.
Hix said after she got home, she called Hindt seeking further explanation. Hindt asked her to come back to the church so that they could speak in person. In their second meeting, Hindt told her that in addition to being Jewish, she was sent away because of rumours that she was a lesbian.
After Hix confirmed that she was in a relationship with a woman, she said Hindt called her a sinner. The pastor invited her to attend Calvary’s Sunday service with her partner. Outraged, she left again.
After Hix took to Facebook with her story, several people sent the church messages demanding an explanation from the pastor. She ended by saying:
Long story short…. DO NOT CONTRIBUTE TO ANY CALVARY CHURCH…THEY ARE NATIONWIDE. UNLESS YOU FEEL THAT BEING JEWISH OR GAY DISQUALIFIES ONE FROM TRYING TO HELP THOSE LESS FORTUNATE THAN YOURSELF. (You know that Christian Mantra … do onto others … etc). Just sayin ‘…
Hindt later posted an apology on the church’s Facebook page, in which he again invited Hix to attend the Sunday service, but the post has since been deleted. He wrote:
Recently, a resident of the community volunteered to serve with us and we wholeheartedly accepted her assistance. Unfortunately, we’re saddened by an incident involving some miscommunication that took place off campus in an exchange between various community volunteers at the church’s food pantry.
I met with the individual who was upset and apologized for the misunderstanding. (I apologize once again if you are reading this.) I invited her and her partner to sit with my wife and I in church this Sunday. For the last twenty-six years, our heart at Calvary Houston has been to reach out and share the love of Christ to all people, regardless of race, sexual orientation, religion, etc. As demonstrated to our community for the last two weeks during the Disaster Relief effort on-site, this position has not changed.
Hix wasn’t satisfied with Hindt’s apology. She wrote on Facebook in response:
He invited my partner and I to come to his church and the spirit of the lord would show me the evil of my ways and would change my heart to realize that my 20-year relationship with my wife was a sin. Please let the Calvary church know how you feel about my being fired as a volunteer and my contributions of time and money to his food pantry.
On Tuesday, Hix reported that she’d been accepted as a volunteer by another organisation in nearby Dickinson.
Wanted to share great news!. Told them everything up front and I have been welcomed.