Carmen Hix, a US Navy veteran who lives in the Houston area and was volunteering at a local church when Hurricane Harvey hit the city, claims the pastor told her to leave because she is Jewish and a lesbian.
On September 8, Hix posted on her Facebook page: “SO! I have volunteered for the past few days tirelessly, working at the food pantry at Calvary Church, as it is close to my house. Took a week off of work in order to do so. Donated over $500 worth of food to the pantry and showed up every day as I agreed. Hit my neighbors up for donations and delivered 3 cars full of donations. TODAY, I was ‘FIRED’ from volunteering because I identify as Jewish (discovering my Jewish heritage recently) and would not say that I was Christian when called into the ‘Principal’s Office’ by the Head of their food pantry.
“I called the church and let them know how I felt when I got home. Pastor ‘Ron’ asked if I would meet with him at Calvary. I went. He also informed me that it was thought or it was rumored that I am a Lesbian, which is against their Christian beliefs. In actuality, I was asked by one of the volunteers if I was in a relationship and I said, ‘Yes, I have been in a relationship with a woman for 20 years.’ I guess she took it upon herself to pass that little fact on to someone.
“I told Pastor ‘Ron’ that when they called me to volunteer, they didn’t bother to ask me to check or not check those boxes… Jewish and Lesbian. Told him… ‘When you needed me, it didn’t matter. Now that you’re dwindling down the operation, it seems to matter.’
“He gave me the tired ‘blah, blah, blah’ that pastors have a tendency to do. ‘We can’t let you represent our church, as being a Lesbian is a sin…”
She didn’t say what was the same pastor’s view on being Jewish.
Needless to say, the story went viral, after first being picked up by a local gay publication and then by a plethora of media outlets, including Newsweek. On September 9, Calvary Houston posted its own version of the events: “Recently, a resident of the community volunteered to serve with us and we wholeheartedly accepted her assistance. Honestly, the need is great in this area. We are so thankful for the many who have volunteered.
“Unfortunately, we’re saddened by an incident involving some miscommunication that took place off campus in an exchange between various community volunteers at the church’s food pantry. I met with the individual who was upset and apologized for the misunderstanding. (I apologize once again if you are reading this.) I invited her and her partner to sit with my wife and I in church this Sunday.”
Nice enough, except that Hix issued the following response—it was in all-caps, we reduced it to normal case out of sheer compassion for the reader: “He invited my partner and I to come to his church and the spirit of the lord would show me the evil of my ways…”
There was more, but you get the point.
There’s a kind of a happy ending to the story:
“I just wanted to share this,” Hix posted on her Facebook page last Friday, “After being ‘fired’ from volunteering for a supposedly ‘Christian’ church, Calvary Houston in Friendswood, I looked for another place to volunteer at a food bank, with which I have experience. I was sent a link to SSG Group LLC. I contacted them and told them what I had just gone through and asked if my being Jewish and a Lesbian would be a problem for them. I was told, ‘absolutely not!’ ‘If anyone gives you any grief, you come talk to me personally.’
“I went the next day to volunteer in Dickinson, and this Company donated their warehouse in order to turn it into a food bank. Much to my surprise, I walked into a warehouse full of gun-toting, Confederate flag T-shirt wearing bikers and others. I thought, ‘Oh, [expletive]. What have I gotten myself into?’
“I was greeted by a retired Coast Guard Warrant. I was wearing a Veteran T-shirt, and he asked me what service I had served with. Told him I was a retired Navy Senior Chief, and was straight up with him about my recent volunteer experience. He said, ‘I don’t care […]. Are you ready to get to work?’ ‘Absolutely, Warrant!’ Even knowing I identified as Jewish, that I was Gay, and that I am in a bi-racial relationship, I have received nothing but hugs, people with Confederate flags on their shirts thanking me for my service and my volunteering with them, ‘You are welcomed here.’ People, that under any other circumstances, we would probably have never greeted each other, not come together.”
There was more, but you get the point.