... says reformed gay American
A converted American homosexual has criticised United States President Barack Obama for his stance in supporting same-sex marriage in his homeland.
"I believe that he is deceived and he has done more damage than good," Rev Dennis Jernigan told editors and reporters at the weekly Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange held at the newspaper's Beechwood Avenue offices yesterday.
Fifty-five-year-old Jernigan — who confessed to being homosexual up to age 22 before he switched to a heterosexual life, and has since married and fathered nine children — said that Obama went way off course when he came out to bat for same-sex couples.
"I pray for my president; I don't agree with him, but I love him. But the problem is, when the family breaks down, society breaks down," he stated, adding that such unions were immoral and wrong for any society.
Obama, Rev Jernigan said, might have opted to go the route of politics, what with the United States presidential elections set for November of this year.
"I can't presume to know what his agenda was, but I do believe that everything that he does is very methodical and there is a purpose in it.
"Because our elections are coming up, I have no doubt that that plays into the picture somehow. I just know that in America the church is waking up, evangelicals are waking up and even people who are not Christians are waking up to the fact that well, maybe there is another agenda here.
"Why did he just suddenly do this? Because he has changed positions so many times on this issue and now he has come out and made this statement, so my position is that it's very political. It's politically expedient for him to do so somehow," Rev Jernigan said.
Several Jamaican individuals, organisations and institutions, including the Church, have publicly opposed Obama's stance.
The American religious leader — who is here to participate in events being held by the Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society, an organisation that is opposed to homosexual behaviour — said that despite homosexuality, and in particular same-sex marriages getting support from high places, he would continue to do his job in trying to reform people who are so inclined.
"I have homosexual friends. I minister to them all the time and they know that I love them. We don't have to agree. I am commanded to love. I am not commanded to agree. I would have no ministry if fathers simply did their job. There would be no need for me.
"That's why God allowed me to go through homosexuality and I have people all the time telling me, 'well you were never gay in the first place'.
"My response to them is well, if I am gonna make up a story, it's gonna be way better than this one. It's gonna involve a plane crash in the Andes and I am going to have to walk through the snow and it's gonna be good. I didn't make up anything. This is my story. That is why I am so adamant about this. And I have seen it time and time again, freedom is possible," Rev Jernigan said, his voice cracking.
"Freedom from anything is costly. They say that in war all the time. That is what Jamaica has to realise. It cost me a lot of blood, sweat and tears to fight for my freedom, but I regret not one moment of it. It has been worth every struggle that I have been through. I am glad I went through homosexuality, now that I can understand God's love for me, now that I can help someone else out of that same bondage that I was, in and I do consider it bondage," Rev Jernigan stated.
According to Rev Peter Garth, vice-president of the Jamaica Association of Evangelicals, who also attended the Exchange, a recent survey in the United States showed that 85 per cent of Americans were not in favour of same-sex marriages.