BOISE — The Interfaith Equality Coalition, a group of local faith leaders, sent a letter to the Boise Weekly signed by its members responding to an article printed June 10 regarding Pastor Joe Jones from the Shield of Faith Baptist Church.
The letter pointed to a recent sermon given by the pastor around four weeks ago that had gone viral. The sermon, recorded on video, was rife with hate speech against the LGBTQ+ community including statements from Jones saying that "sodomites are reptilians," and to "put all queers to death."
It was posted on YouTube and gained significant traction online last week after it was shared by a Treasure Valley TikTok user.
In the response letter from the Interfaith Equality Coalition, the group referred to a number of biblical quotes that espouse love over hate.
"We as faith leaders of many different traditions find our hearts broken hearing that a faith leader here in Boise has said such dehumanizing things about LGBTQIA+ people, people who are humans with sacred worth and dignity," the letter stated.
It continued, "What we say matters, and how we say it matters, too. We understand that some faith leaders have different interpretations of Scripture; we can discuss, dialogue, and disagree all day long. But dehumanizing language is reprehensible. Death threats and calling LGBTQIA+ people 'reptilian' is contemptible and disgusting, and to do so in the language of God and faith is abhorrent, false, and blasphemous."
The letter closed by saying, "Our highest calling is to recognize and respect the sacred dignity of all humanity as we seek to love one another."
In an emailed response to the Boise Weekly regarding the letter, Jones wrote that he would be open to sitting down and discussing his views with the coalition if him and the coalition could agree on the fundamental aspect of being born again.
The coalition consists of over 25 different clergy across the Treasure Valley and includes leaders of Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Mennonite and Synagogue congregations.
The coalition wrote that all human beings have worth and are worthy of basic respect.
"To our fellow humans, especially LGBTQIA+ people, know that you are loved, that you are worthwhile, that you have sacred dignity. Hold that close to heart. Never, ever forget it," the letter stated.
The letter was signed by the following Treasure Valley faith leaders: Reverend Kathy Abend, retired UCC pastor; Reverend Dr. Duane Anders, Cathedral of the Rockies; Pastor Joseph Bankard, Collister United Methodist Church; Reverend Gretchen J. Bingea, retired ELCA Lutheran pastor; Reverend Daryl Blanksma, Whitney United Methodist Church; Reverend Blake Coats, Episcopal Church in Weiser; Reverend Barbara Condon, retired ELCA Lutheran pastor; Pastor Laura Creech, Nampa UCC; Pastor Ben Cremer, Cathedral of the Rockies Amity Campus; Pastor Mia Crosthwaite, Kuna United Methodist Church; Pastor Christie Dahlin, Hyde Park Mennonite Fellowship; Reverend Joseph Farnes, All Saints Episcopal Church; Rabbi Dan Fink, Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel; Reverend Dr. Richard Green, retired pastor with Presbyterian Church (USA); Reverend Jim Grunow, retired ELCA Lutheran pastor; Reverend Karen Hernandez, Sage District Superintendent with the Oregon-Idaho Conference and member of the United Methodist Church; Reverend Jenny Willison Hirst, Collister United Methodist Church; Reverend Jackie Holland, Center for Spiritual Living in Boise; Reverend Dr. Andrew Kukla, First Presbyterian Church in Boise; Reverend Irene Laudeman, Cathedral of the Rockies; Pastor Meggan Manlove, Trinity Lutheran Church in Nampa; Reverend Dennis Reid, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church; Reverend TJ Remaley, Southminster Presbyterian Church; Reverend Brenda Sene, Hillview United Methodist Church; Reverend Steve Tollefson, Pastor Emeritus at Boise First United Methodist Church; Reverend Rob Tulloch, Boise First Congregational UCC; Reverend David Wettstein, retired Episcopal Church; Pastor Connie Winter-Eulberg, King of Glory Lutheran Church in Boise.