A Chicago pastor who asked a man dressed in drag to leave a worship service because he was dressed like a woman stands by his actions after coming under fire.
A Facebook video of the Sunday night encounter shows Antonio Rocquemore of Power House International Ministries asking the unidentified man to step out into the aisle.
“Can you leave my church and go put on man clothes? And don’t come here like that no more,” Rocquemore can be seen telling the man in the video, posted by Christian James Lhuillier.
“i hold a standard in here. Whatever you do on the outside is your business, but I will not let drag queens come in here. If you’re gonna come in here you’re gonna dress like a man.”
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People in the crowd cheered and said “Amen” and “thank you Jesus” as Rocquemore addressed the young man.
But Lhuillier posted the video on Monday because he was angered by what he saw. It has been viewed more than 420,000 times.
“Some of y’all are going to have to excuse my language but I am tired of this s**t,” Lhuillier wrote in his post.
“In a place that is supposed to be a place of change a place of deliverance whatever you want to call it why would you destroy someone in front of a room full of people. This is the kind of bulls**t that causes people to go home and commit suicide.
“S**t like this is the reason that the church has no power in 2018 because they are so worried about the wrong things.”
The video has kicked up a flurry of debate both on Facebook and on Christian websites, including the Christian Post, that have posted the video.
More than 2,000 comments have been left on Lhuillier’s Facebook page alone, many criticizing the pastor.
“What happened to ‘Come as you are?’”
“God said come as you please. And the first amendment say that you have freedom of expression, and if that person feel to express themselves like that well you can’t stop that person or kick them out of your church. That person should sue him.”
“You should be preaching and not concentrating on what the people are wearing.”
But Rocquemore has supporters, too.
“The church must stand for something,” one woman wrote on Facebook.
“Paul said to rebuke them openly,” wrote another. “Apostle Paul would had stopped the cross dresser from the parking lot.”
“He was so right for what he said. That’s what’s wrong with the world today. Y’all allowing this ignorant in the house of Lord like it’s right. Heck no!!! This man is going to be blessed for what he did. I don’t care how none of y’all feel bc it was right,” wrote one supporter.
As the backlash grew, Rocquemore appeared in an hour-long live video on his personal Facebook page on Monday in which he did not back down from what he did.
He said the young man at the worship service had been a member of the church for several months.
“He is, I repeat, he is not a stranger off the street,” the pastor said in his video. “I heard somebody say he was a visitor and he came in off the street and we lost a soul. See, that’s not accurate information.
“He is a full member of the Powerhouse International Ministries. He’s a member of Powerhouse .. I think he joined earlier in the year.”
He also said he did not ask the man to leave because he is gay.
“First of all, anybody that know me ... I don’t bash nothing,” he said. “The reason why I don’t bash nothing because when you start bashing things then you’re separating them. I don’t separate sin. Sin is sin.
“Somebody also said that I told my security to grab him and take him out of the sanctuary. All this stuff. See, the devil like mess. None of that, never happened. Never happened.”
He said he had spoken to the young man several times in private about not wearing women’s clothes to church. The pastor said church members would remember when the young man told the congregation that he joined because he wanted to be shown “how to become a man.”
The pastor said he made it clear to the young man that he couldn’t come to church dressed like a woman. The pastor’s mother talked to him about it too in private, the pastor said. “No one knew this was going on,” he said.
Rocquemore said the man challenged him publicly and “I challenged him back publicly.”
He said all church members are expected to follow the “rules,” like the one banning female members from wearing leggings at the church, which he called “disrespectful.”