UPDATED 16 DEC, 11AM (Comments added from Ramsey and Fisher) – After Stonewall’s David Rimmer is wondering why Jesus is paying so much attention to him. In the past month, the gay bookstore operator received two letters from him.
“When I first saw it, I started to laugh. I couldn’t believe there was a follow-up,” says Rimmer.
Last month, a person claiming to be Jesus sent Rimmer and several social services agencies a letter with no return address. This time, the letter-writer fraudulently used two local churches, Metropolitan Bible Church and Dominion Chalmers United Church, as the return address.
One in Ten also received a letter from Jesus, bearing a return address of St John’s Anglican Church on Somerset. One in Ten owner Tom Ramsey says it’s odd the author is targeting churches that openly accept gays.
“He could be going after anyone and anything he disagrees with,” says Ramsey. “We get these things almost a few times a month, telling us we’re going to burn in hell. People criticize our lifestyle. That’s all it is. I get them, I look and then I throw them away. It’s another day being gay and owning a sex shop in Ottawa. You build a skin. You have one idiot who thinks he’s Jesus Christ and there are billions of other people on the planet. I just move on.”
Rev James Murray of Dominion Chalmers says any correspondence Dominion Chalmers sends out uses their letterhead and an envelope bearing the church’s logo.
“We would not send out that kind of garbage to anybody. We’re a professional organization. The United Church of Canada believes sexuality is not a limiting factor in membership or leadership. I’m very sorry, but this makes me sick when I see this kind of hatred put forward in the church’s name,” says Murray.
Lou Ranahan, executive director of the Metropolitan Bible Church, says he finds it unfortunate someone is using his church’s name and the name of Jesus in this manner. He says his church does not condone gays, but it does not make an issue out of it.
For all he knows, he may have many gay and lesbian parishioners, he says.
“Thank you for giving us the chance to respond. No such letter originated from the Metropolitan Bible Church, and it is unfortunate that someone is using our name and the name of Christ in this way. We believe the Gospel is rooted in the love of Christ and we try to focus on His message of grace for each person as we search the Scriptures,” says Ranahan via email.
Bana Fisher, head minister of St John’s Anglican Church, says correspondence from her church is delivered on letterhead in printed envelopes.
“I find it sad the person had to pick the gay community,” she says. “Perhaps this person is schizophrenic, but they’re sick. They group all GLBT people into one bucket. They’re just people. The gay community knows me and knows I didn’t send that.”
Contents of the letter warn of “the continuing judgment on those who facilitate, finance and endorse the sin of homosexuality.” The author’s first sentence says, “It is laughable how you reprobates enjoy mocking God. You cannot control the animal lust that eats you apart and refuse to open your ears to the truth. Well, here is some truth for you to read. You can read, right?”
The letter also attacks Jack, the fictional character on TV’s Will & Grace.
“I don’t find this correspondence offensive. I just find it sad, tragic… and highly amusing,” says Rimmer.
Wilde’s owner Rob Giacobbi says he feels the author is misrepresenting benevolent organizations and does not know why both letters condemn gay men and not lesbians. But he says he is excited about putting it in his front window.
“I thought someone forgot about me,” says Giacobbi.
“Why go to Mexico when there’s hellfire waiting for me for free?” says Giacobbi.
The first letter from “Jesus” last month was sent to Rimmer, as well as the Ottawa Sun, Metro News, 24 Hours, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Ten Oaks Project, as well as the “homosexual press, bars, lounges and bathhouses.”
While the first letter’s purpose was not entirely clear, it alluded to a cheeky parody of an Ottawa Wolves gay-friendly rugby calendar, where the team posed nude in a manner reminiscent of da Vinci’s The Last Supper. Rimmer had it in his window for about two weeks.