Birmingham schools have severed a contractual relationship with Pastor Chris Hodges' megachurch because of what they deemed controversial social media activity, according to Family Research Council and AL.com.
The Birmingham Board of Education voted Tuesday night to stop leasing its facilities to the Church of the Highlands after learning that Hodges liked posts by Charlie Kirk, president of the conservative nonprofit organization Turning Point USA.
Pastor Hodges apologized, but his apology didn't seem to have any impact on his opposition.
"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 said. "If you look at that, it will be abundantly clear that we value every person."
This is a money-losing proposition for Birmingham City Schools. The church paid an average of $12,000 a month each to rent Parker High School and Woodlawn High School for Sunday services, according to AL.com.
In "Tony Perkins's Washington Update," the Family Research Council president stood by his longtime friend Hodges.
"At least a third of the Highlands' congregations are black and Hispanic," Perkins wrote. "If anything, Hodges was respected for fighting for the disenfranchised, for preaching about healing and reconciliation. As recently as last Sunday, he called the city to mutual understanding, peace and prayer. But in this 'cancel culture,' those 20 years of bridge-building don't matter to liberals bent on burning down any platform but their own."
In a recent prayer service at his church, Hodges was sharing Scripture that could apply to the situation in Minneapolis after George Floyd's brutal murder at the hands of police. The pastor had a hard time continuing when the passage spoke to helping those "being crushed." He tearfully read these verses: "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice" (Prov. 31:8-9, NLT).
"Racism, bigotry, prejudice exist," he said. "It's real, and it's of the devil. White supremacy or any supremacy other than the supremacy of Christ is of the devil."
He points to the true source of evil and said his church had been "consistent in our value for all people."
"The devil is a murderer," the pastor said. "We've got to love people and hate the devil."
Hodges called for the heart change that comes from God and for the "presence of God over our nation." Before Pentecost weekend, he said, "We need an outpouring of the Spirit."
Hodges also called up to the platform—"intentionally," he said—several African American leaders in the church who spoke and prayed with authority for those in the church and for any who are hurting during this troubled time.
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