The largest church in Alabama has lost its leases with the local school district after an English teacher noticed that the senior pastor had liked tweets by Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk.
When pastor Chris Hodges clicked “follow” on Kirk’s Twitter page and liked several of his Instagram posts, he couldn’t possibly have foreseen that these actions would land the Church of the Highlands without a lease to hold Sunday services at Birmingham schools.
Church of the Highlands services have been held at Woodlawn and Parker schools for years now. Prior to the March suspension of in-person services amid the pandemic, the church held worship services in those locations as branch campuses. According to AL.com, the church paid an average of $288,000 per year to rent the buildings.
But when Jasmine Faith Clisby, a teacher at Carver High School, noticed Hodges’ social media activity, she had to alert the community.
“I do not attend Church of the Highlands,” said Clisby late last month, according to AL.
“I would be upset if it comes off as me judging him,” she went on in a Facebook post, though it appears she has since deactivated her Facebook account. “It’s not that. I’m not saying he’s a racist. I’m saying he likes someone who post things that do not seem culturally sensitive to me.”
“One of the main things Kirk harps on is white privilege being a myth,” Clisby said. “I found something troubling…I can’t see into Pastor Chris Hodges’ heart.”
AL reports on the offending posts:
One meme shared by Kirk featured a photo of Donald Trump standing alongside Muhammad Ali and Rosa Parks, with the caption, “The racist Donald Trump in the 1980s,” next to a photo of Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam in a photo of two men wearing blackface and a KKK costume in a 1984 yearbook photo for Eastern Virginia Medical School. The caption for the second photo was “Progressive Leftist Ralph Northam in the 1980s.”
Clisby also shared a screen shot of that post with Hodges as one of those who “liked” the post on social media. Another screen shot showed Hodges liking a post about former President Barack Obama playing golf beneath a quote from Michelle Obama urging people to stay home except for essential activities. Another screen shot shows Hodges liking a photo of Kirk donating blood above the sentence, “We all must do our part to defeat China Virus.”
Shortly after Clisby’s post, pastor Hodges apologized for the apparent insensitivity.
“I understand how this has made you feel and I apologize,” said pastor Hodges. “I don’t take it personally. I know people are hurting right now and they want clarity.”
“I would love for you to not just look at a microscopic zoom-in but look at the totality of 37 years of ministry and 19 years as a church,” he added. “If you look at that it will be abundantly clear that we value every person.”
Hodges has also reportedly deleted his social media accounts.
Unfortunately, Hodges’ apology did not satiate the cancel crusaders.
On Monday, the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District Board of Commissioners Monday voted to end its partnership with the church, effectively banning the church and its partner Christ Health Clinic from providing any services in public housing communities.
Christ Health Clinic services included free COVID-19 testing for residents of Birmingham public housing. The church provided free mentoring, community support groups and faith, health, and social service activities at the Housing Authority of Birmingham Division’s nine public housing communities. Both entities rendered services free of charge to individuals and the local government.
Former U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions called on Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin to overrule the school and housing authority.
“The Housing Authority is an extension of the Mayor, and it is Mayor Woodfin’s responsibility to call for a reversal of the Authority’s outrageous action, and this he must do now,” Sessions declared. “The members of the Board of Education should likewise immediately reverse their blatantly anti-religious decision to terminate lease agreements with the Church of the Highlands. Make no mistake, the people of Birmingham and Alabama will not accept apparatchiks at the Housing Authority and officials at the Board of Education bludgeoning admirable citizens because of political differences. Alabamians will not be told what to do or how to think.”
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