Anti-gay rant preacher parts company with community group


A preacher who delivered an anti-gay rant at an event to promote peace has been asked to leave a newly-formed community group.

Scott Smith told The Royal Gazette he agreed to withdraw from Together for Bermuda (TFB) because of the controversy surrounding his remarks at the Mothers Against Senseless Killings (MASK) weekend event.

“If that’s what has to happen, I’m okay with that,” he said. “People that I have talked to, that have called me, have said they have supported it. I have pretty much got support.”

Mr Smith launched into a tirade about homosexuality at a candlelit vigil for victims of violence at Devil’s Hole on Saturday

.

He apologised for going too far the following day but told The Royal Gazette he stood firm in his belief that “homosexuality is an abomination”.

Mr Smith had been involved with Together for Bermuda, a group launched last week by disgruntled former members of anti-violence group Stand Up Bermuda, who fell out with organiser Jahma Gibbons.

But TFB member Shawnette Somner posted the following message on the group’s Facebook page yesterday: “To all our supporters, on behalf of the TFB team, I apologise to you for the comments made in today’s Royal Gazette by one of our team members, Mr Scott Smith.

“Please be advised that the members of the TFB team do not condone the actions of Mr Smith, although we, like you, do accept his apology.

“We remain a committed group of everyday individuals in the community, simply trying to do our part to make Bermuda a better place with everyone’s help in peace and harmony.” She added: “Mr Smith is no longer a member of TFB, effective today, but we will welcome his input on all events and activities as we move forward, just as we would appreciate the feedback of every member of our community.”

During his speech on Saturday, Mr Smith, 44, ridiculed 22-year-old student Krystl Assan, who organised a rally last week to call for sexual orientation to be added to the Human Rights Act.

He later said he regretted that, adding yesterday he would like to say sorry to her in person if she would meet him.

Mr Smith’s comments have earned him a rebuke from his own pastor.

Stefan Burton-Schnüll, from Pembroke Seventh-day Adventist Church, wrote on The Royal Gazette website yesterday: “I need to clarify that he does not speak on behalf of me or our church.

“While we promote the traditional marriage model as the biblical model for human sexuality, we also believe in freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate and congregate, which extends to those we may disagree with.

“I certainly do not condone name-calling and disrespect. So on behalf of my church, I offer my sincere apologies to Ms Krystl Assan and anyone else who has been offended by those remarks.

“As far as the Human Rights Act is concerned, every human being has the right to be free from discrimination. I enjoyed the dialogue I had with [campaign group] Two Words and a Comma and look forward to some form of continuation.

“It is unfortunate that an event that commemorated victims of gun violence was used to this end. My prayers for comfort and support are with the families and friends of those victims.”

A woman who attended the MASK event said she was appalled by Mr Smith’s tirade and offended by further comments he made about Japan’s recent earthquake and tsunami.

The 35-year-old, from Smith’s, who would not be named, said the preacher suggested victims of the natural disaster suffered because they were not Christians.

Mr Smith said yesterday: “I don’t recall making that comment. In Japan, they worship false gods. I would believe that God is trying to get our attention.”

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Published May 31, 2011 at 8:00 am (Updated May 31, 2011 at 8:49 am)

Anti-gay rant preacher parts company with community group

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