A family in Tampa, Florida, is devastated after a local church abruptly canceled the funeral service for their son after learning he was gay.
Julie Atwood was at her son's wake when the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church called and canceled a funeral that was scheduled for the next day, a local NBC affiliate reported.
"It was devastating," she said. "I did feel like he was being denied the dignity of death."
Ms. Atwood said the church decided it would be "blasphemous" to hold the funeral because her son, Julion Evans, 42, was gay.
Mr. Evans' husband, Kendall Capers, said the two were married last year in Maryland after 17 years together. Mr. Evans died after a 4-year battle with amyloidosis, a rare illness that destroys organs in the body, the station reported.
Ms. Atwood said she was baptized at New Hope as a child and several of her family members still attend. New Hope agreed and the service was scheduled for July 26.
But when the obituary published in the local newspaper listed Mr. Capers as a surviving husband, New Hope Pastor T.W. Jenkins, said the church needed to cancel.
"Based on our preaching of the scripture, we would have been in error to allow the service in our church," Mr. Jenkins told the NBC affiliate. "I'm not trying to condemn anyone's lifestyle, but at the same time, I am a man of God, and I have to stand up for my principles."
Mr. Evans' family had to make last-minute arrangements and some of their family and friends were not able to make it to the rescheduled service. Mr. Capers said the worst part was the church canceling during the wake.
"This is 2014, this is not the '60s or the '70s," he told the station. "So at the end of the day I just want his wrongdoing to be exposed."
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