A pastor who preached against homosexuality believes his sermon was the motive for three men who assaulted his church’s part-time janitor.
Pastor Paul Endrei of the Church on the Rise in Westlake, Ohio, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper his Aug. 10 message was about the Rev. Gene Robinson, who became the first openly homosexual Episcopalian confirmed as a bishop.
The janitor, Richard Bilski, 49, told police three men beat him Sunday morning outside the nondenominational church after demanding to know when the pastor would arrive, the Cleveland paper said.
As the men fled, Bilski said, one yelled, “This is a message for Pastor Paul.”
Endrei said the point of his Sunday sermon was “we love the homosexual, but we hate the sin.”
“I told the congregation, ‘The Gospel according to Gene Robinson is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ,’ ” he told the Plain Dealer.
Bilski also suspects the sermon was the motive for the attack.
The Cleveland paper quoted a former host of a gay-themed radio talk show, who contended sermons like Endrei’s can fuel hate crimes.
“If they don’t preach tolerance, they are preaching violence,” Harris told the paper.
Bilski said the men confronted him as he took out the trash at about 6:45 a.m. The janitor reported he was attacked after he told them he didn’t know what time Endrei would arrive, suffering cuts and bruises to his face, arms, hands and ribs.
“I did nothing against anybody, and I’m the one in the middle of this,” Bilski said, according to the Plain Dealer.
On Aug. 7, a Kenyan Anglican bishop was attacked on a London street by two Church of England colleagues for opposing Robinson’s appointment, according to the East African Standard of Nairobi.
The confrontation turned to blows before passersby came to the rescue of Bishop Simon Oketch who was attending an international seminar in the city.
An Episcopal vicar in Graham, Texas, near Fort Worth, reported his church was vandalized and a portion set ablaze Aug. 5 in an apparent reaction to the congregation’s defense of traditional orthodoxy.
Police said their only lead is writing on the wall: “God and Jesus love Homosexuals.”
In a letter, Rev. Scott Wooten said, “The thought of an active persecution crossed my mind when I decided to take a stand against biblical revisionists, but it turned very personal when it hit my church.”