TENNESSEE: Church Boots Out Lesbian Cop’s Relatives After City Backs Benefits

Two weeks ago I reported that the small Tennessee town of Collegedale had become the first in the state to offer benefits to the partners of LGBT employees. Among the people that supported the measure was openly gay Collegedale police officer Kat Cooper and her wife. In retaliation, a local church has booted Cooper’s relatives out of the congregation.

Leaders at Ridgedale Church of Christ met in private with Kat Cooper’s mother, aunt and uncle on Sunday after the regular worship service. They were given an ultimatum: They could repent for their sins and ask forgiveness in front of the congregation. Or leave the church. Their sins? “My mother was up here and she sat beside me. That’s it,” said Kat Cooper. “Literally, they’re exiling members for unconditionally loving their children — and even extended family members.”  But the family’s support of Kat Cooper was as good as an endorsement of homosexuality, said Ken Willis, minister at Ridgedale Church of Christ. “The sin would be endorsing that lifestyle,” Willis said. “The Bible speaks very plainly about that.” Willis, a father himself, said the church didn’t expect the Cooper family to disown their daughter. “But you certainly can’t condone that lifestyle, whether it’s any kind of sin — whether they’re shacked up with someone or living in a state of fornication or they’re guilty of crimes,” he said. “You don’t condone it. You still love them as a parent.”

Cooper’s father says they have “no sin to repent for” and that it was an easy decision to leave their church. His wife, he said, has not been able to stop crying. (Tipped by JMG reader Carver)