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Media Contact: Rev Jenna Zirbel, 919.342.0897

October 24, 2012

OutRaleigh Clergy Calls For Investigation Of Allegations Against Word of Faith Fellowship Members Of Assault and Stalking; Stands for Respect for Human Dignity

OutRaleigh Clergy decries hate violence and calls for a full investigation of the reported assault and stalking of Michael Lowry by members of the Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale, North Carolina.   Lowry reported that in August 2011, on church grounds, he was hit and held down while being read scripture because of his perceived sexual orientation.  

This alleged hate violence goes beyond the profession of faith beliefs to acts of violence that deny a person their right to human respect and physical safety.  A full investigation is called for to respond to Michael Lowry’s report.  Hate violence of this type condones hostility against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) communities.  As religious leaders in North Carolina, OutRaleigh Clergy add our voices to the public outcry against incidents of derogatory and threatening hate speech and violence when they occur. We believe in the scriptural message of love and inclusion, and support messaging that calls for respect for the human dignity of all.

Religious intolerance acts to support a culture of violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people at a time when hate violence against LGBTQ people is on the rise as reported by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP). OutRaleigh Clergy, along with religious leaders from across  the state and throughout our country, are working to break down the walls of hostility erected to divide people in order to build a stronger, healthier community where we can all live without fear of being targeted by hate violence.

ACTION STEPS ·        

  • Contact Support: OutRaleigh Clergy offer support and affirmation for LGBTQ people, their families and friends.   ·        
  • Join:  Martin Luther King, Jr’s vision of the “Beloved Community” by working toward a just and free society for all persons.  
  • Report Violence: The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and HIV-affected (LGBTQH) communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.  Anyone who has experienced violence is encouraged to contact a local anti-violence program. For help locating an anti-violence program in your area, please contact NCAVP.

Signed by:

Rev. Jenna Zirbel, Rainbow Community Cares

Rev. Steve Halsted,

Bishop Donagrant L. McCluney, NC State Field Organizer, Southerners on New Ground (

Rabbi Lucy H.F. Dinner, Temple Beth Or,

Rev. Brendan Boone, Senior Pastor, St. John’s Metropolitan Community Church

Rev. Carlton Rutherford, Pastor For Congregational Care, St. John’s Metropolitan Community Church

Rev. Wanda Floyd, Pastor For Congregational Life, St. John’s Metropolitan Community Church

Rev. John Saxon, UU Fellowship of Raleigh,

Rev. Dr. Nancy E. Petty, Pastor, Pullen Memorial Baptist Church

[This release is a product of OutRaleigh Clergy, a group of clergy organized to address incidents of hate violence speech and action, increasing resources enhancing the safety, power and supportive services of the LGBTQ community at a time when hate violence due to anti-LGBTQ biases are increasing as a result of religious intolerance.]