WASHINGTON (BP)–Media outlets and homosexual activists in New Mexico have attacked the management of a local faith-based homeless shelter after it declined a donation raised from a drag show, CNSNews.com reported March 16.
Chris Ames, a member of Risclee, a “group of gays and straights who frequently put on drag shows to raise money for charity,” said he offered the Albuquerque-based Joy Junction homeless shelter a check for $1,200, representing the proceeds of a drag show it held Feb 24.
The shelter respectfully declined the donation, saying the manner in which it was raised conflicted with its Christian principles on homosexual behavior.
“Being a faith-based ministry, that’s not exactly what we’re all about,” said Jeremy Reynalds, the shelter director who founded the Joy Junction ministry in 1986.
Joy Junction is the largest emergency homeless shelter in New Mexico, providing half of the 300 beds provided year-round for the homeless in Albuquerque. It receives no federal funding because of the religious aspects of its operations.
But Ames claimed the shelter’s position on homosexual behavior conflicted with another Christian principle. “It says in the Bible that you should not judge somebody unless you want to be judged yourself,” he said.
The judging began shortly after Reynalds’ decision to decline the contribution. Within hours, Reynalds said calls from media outlets came flooding in, along with about 150 e-mails.
The initial e-mail response was overwhelmingly negative, Reynalds said, but it leveled off as people became more informed on the story. Phone calls to the office ran about 50-50 for and against.
After the initial response, Reynalds was fired from a local radio station where he occasionally substituted as a talk show host.
“Although I am sure that your circumstances were justified in your mind, I find it hard to believe that a gift for food, or cash donation, would be turned down by you,” wrote KBTK’s general manager, Bruce Pollock, in an e-mail provided by Reynalds to CNSNews.com. “These attitudes are not fair to the homeless, gay homeless and the gay community in general. A gift is a gift.”
Reynalds said the reaction showed that many community members were not aware of the difference between a faith-based ministry, such as Joy Junction, and state or federal agencies, where religious convictions are not an integral part of the group’s daily operations.
“Our job is to help the homeless in conformity with basic Christian principles. We help homosexuals. If you come in to us and say you’re gay, we will help you,” Reynalds said. “If you bring a partner in, we will still help you, but your partner will have to sleep in another building.”
Reynalds does not discount the possibility that the shelter may have been set up because of his outspokenness on issues related to homosexuality.
“If we had chosen to go ahead and take the donation, it’s our feeling the gays would have gone to the media and said, ‘Hey, this guy writes against the gay lifestyle, but he takes gay money,'” Reynalds said. “When I refused the money, they ran to the media and called me a homophobic bigot.”
Reynalds has written columns defending Dr. Laura Schlessinger, a critic of homosexual behavior and activism, and John Paulk, the former homosexual and employee of Focus on the Family who was attacked as a hypocrite by homosexual advocacy groups after he was photographed in a homosexual bar.
Since the controversy broke in early March, Reynalds said several people have come by the Joy Junction offices and written checks to cover the $1,200 drag show donation refused by the shelter.
Morahan is a senior staff writer with CNSNews.com. Used by permission.