By Chris Lane
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By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Crackers with Alamo delusions covering "both sides of the road." What could possibly go wrong?
Immigration wasn't the only thing inspiring a rush to man the barricades in Houston recently. A number of folks have taken on the FIT Athletic Club in Montrose.
Being in Montrose, the large facility has a substantial gay clientele. And those customers who aren't gay are typically pretty liberal in their attitudes towards their same-sex neighbors.
So it came as a bit of a surprise in the past week or so when patrons walked through the lobby to be greeted by a large poster-sized advertisement plugging Second Baptist Church's mega-service Easter Sunday at Minute Maid Park (Second Baptist's Ed Young to Lakewood's Joel Osteen: "I see your basketball arena and raise you a baseball stadium! For the greater glory of God, of course.")
It actually wasn't that much of a surprise to those who exercise on Sunday mornings -- the lobby TVs have lately been broadcasting Second Baptist services then.
Young and Second Baptist aren't exactly gay-friendly. The church has been criticized for handing out political pamphlets that take pains to note which candidates have been endorsed by the Gay & Lesbian Political Caucus, and Young has been elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention, which has consistently condemned homosexuality.
"The old worn cliché [is] you love the sinner, but you have to say the sin is wrong," he told reporters after the convention kicked out two churches for being, we guess, suspiciously gay. (And doesn't that quote just make you feel his burning desire to "love the sinner"?)
"I feel very uncomfortable going to the gym as a gay man surrounded by anti-gay messages," one FIT member wrote Hair Balls.
Another member, attorney Marianna Cline, says she just doesn't want religion thrown in her face. "I didn't want to be preached at while I was exercising," she says.
Jack Tompkins, chairman and CEO of FIT, says he never intended to offend anyone; he just wanted to let people know about the event.
And, he adds, "I don't think Second Baptist is anti-gay at all. The pastor has said, 'Come one, come all, come on down and sit in the front row'...The pastor would love to have homosexuals attend the church. Now, they may or may not like what he preaches, but he does want them to come."
Tompkins says all complaints were supposed to be directed to him and he hasn't received any. Cline says she was given a different person's name to call and never heard back.
She isn't backing down, though. She took a camera to the club to photograph the offending bit of religious imagery.
"The girl [at the front desk] said, 'Why are you photographing?' and I said, 'You know, I have a problem with Easter, it's very anti-Jewish.' And she's like, 'Well, we'll put something up for Passover,' and I'm like, 'That's not the point.' "
Something Happening Here
Springtime is becoming the time to protest in Houston and elsewhere. Opponents of the proposed immigration bill took to the streets April 10, of course, but things won't end there. Supporters of the bill, such as Texans for Immigration Reform, have announced plans to attend the annual event at the San Jacinto Monument April 22 re-creating the battle where Sam Houston routed Santa Anna. How can you tell which protest you're at? Click here to view our chart.