The Dallas Voice, a publication focusing on LGBT issues, published a brief article yesterday about the death of James Stone, 32, a gay married man and native Arkansan, whose family was reportedly denied use of a church for his funeral in Mountain Home. More reporting is promised Friday and we hope to dig into this today, too.
A church, of course, has every right to decide which families may use its facilities, though it’s tricky business if presumed sinning is to be a ground for admittance. The article didn’t identify churches that wouldn’t open their doors. Stone grew up in rural Clarkridge near the Missouri line and was living at his death in Texas. The article indicated his father had worked in Mountain Home, including at a municipal facility reportedly sometimes open to families for receptions after death, but not in this case.
Stone’s published obituary, a tribute by his spouse, indicates a memorial service was held Saturday at a rural cemetery.
UPDATE: The Baxter Bulletin jumped on this story because of national attention and found some conflicting stories.
Family and friends insist they were refused help by local churches in Clarkridge. Pastors of two Church of Christ congregations insist they were not asked. The Clarkridge volunteer fire department says the family canceled a planned reception at the fire station and the family agrees. But …..
The one thing everyone involved in the story can agree upon is that two members of the Clarkridge Church of Christ, Jerry and Vicki Oels, handed anti-gay religious material and sympathy cards to Stone’s mother, Joan, Hoskins and Liebbe following the graveside service at Thacker Cemetery.