Jesus Needs New PR

Jesus Needs New PR

Pastor apologizes for 15-year-old sermon about God’s hate…

After this sermon clip from 15 years ago hits the Internet, West Virginia pastor, Jeff Owens, issues an apology…

Shenandoah Baptist Church’s Pastor Jeff Owens: BURN AND SHOOT FAGS! from Joe Jervis on Vimeo.

Owen writes… If you are responding to a sermon that I preached about gays I would like to render the following apology.

Nearly 15 years ago I preached a sermon that promoted physically hurting gay people. I was young, stupid and immature. I didn’t even hold to the belief of hurting people when I wrongly made those comments. I regret those words and have asked God to forgive me for them. I am not a believer in the gay life-style but I was profoundly wrong in making any comments about hurting people. If I could retract those words I certainly would.


I wrongly represented both God and myself. I truly believe that God is a God of LOVE. I believe he loves the whole world even when people in the world do things that are wrong; Such as my wrong representation of how to treat someone who does not believe the same way I do.

I no longer preach like that and I purposely teach and train others to preach and behave properly as well. The hurtful words in that sermon tape were erased many years ago and somehow have resurfaced much to my disappointment and embarrassment.

I realize I have disappointed many who have heard those words in that sermon. May I include my disappointment in myself. Once again, I offer my humble apology.

With a sincere heart,
Jeff Owens



Comments read comments(22)
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posted May 24, 2010 at 8:54 am

This was one of my college professors years ago and it sounds like this recording took place in college chapel. Sad to say, we heard preaching like this all the time.

Although we probably no longer see things the same, I must say that this response and apology is encouraging to me. An apology of this magnitude was not common and seems most sincere.

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Adam Whitley

posted May 24, 2010 at 8:55 am

We all do dumb things that are covered by a loving God. It is nice to see someone apologize and not just ignore his wrong. Love,respect and forgiveness to him.

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    posted June 7, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Shut up Adam…you know you’re a fag.

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posted May 24, 2010 at 8:59 am

Refreshingly direct apology.

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posted May 24, 2010 at 9:13 am

Love the apology. Would really love to know what caused the change of heart. That’s a pretty huge turn around and I’d be super interested to hear what caused it.

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    posted May 24, 2010 at 9:45 am

    must be nice to have never said anything your regretted later! I for one have put my foot in my mouth before, usually because of something I misunderstood.

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      posted May 24, 2010 at 10:08 am

      That was certainly not what I intended to convey here. But that kind of rhetoric is not generally followed by an apology of this sort. I would have the same curiosity if Fred Phelps came out with a similar apology.

      To me there’s a difference between putting your foot in your mouth and calling for open season on an entire community.

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        posted May 24, 2010 at 10:26 am

        “To me there’s a difference between putting your foot in your mouth and calling for open season on an entire community.”

        well said

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      posted May 24, 2010 at 10:25 am

      I didn’t get that from Alise’s comment at all.

      I really like her question. What caused him to change his mind? I’d love to hear that story.

      In this case, I don’t think he was misunderstood. His words 15yrs ago, were pretty clear.

      He did mention that he was saying things that even he did not believe. But, that’s not a misunderstanding. That’s …preaching to the crowd? …the tail wagging the dog?

      Again, I’d like to hear more from him on that.

      It’d be a great opportunity to learn from.

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Matt W

posted May 24, 2010 at 9:21 am

Unfortunately, apologies only go so far. Here’s a sad yet true video documentary featured on HULU on the “fruit” US Evangelicalism has bore in Africa: the Death Penalty for gays.

Pastors like Jeff have a left a deeper and more tragic legacy by way of their words than they realize. If he wants reconciliation, he may need to step forward and start seeking justice for gays and fight against the violence and hate crimes that stem from the seeds he and others like him have planted over the years.

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    posted May 24, 2010 at 9:47 am

    I’ve heard it said that words are often let into the wind and hard to recapture much like a feather pillow being opened let out. This is sad but true, but that does not negate a sincere apology. I’m sure you have said things before that you have regretted, that have had some long lasting effects.

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Alan Williams

posted May 24, 2010 at 9:24 am

Is he sorry he said it or just sorry he was caught?

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posted May 24, 2010 at 9:28 am

Glad to see that apology. Good for him for making it, and doing so publicly.

I still cringe when I hear about “the gay life-style,” b/c I think that code phrase is a seedbed for discrimination and lack of true understanding.

It’s a step.

Just found out yesterday that one of my best friends (in her 50s) used to say that AIDs was God’s curse for gays. She’s come a long way too. Last weekend, she took me and her family to “Gay Bingo” – a fundraiser for the local glbt community center.


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posted May 24, 2010 at 9:31 am

i don’t know if this guy is still in those same fundamentalist circles… but an apology from such is pretty rare.

typically, even when past behavior is obviously wrong, the most you’ll ever see is a defense of why they taught such things (different time/culture/etc.)

usually followed by a long boring explanation of how corporate apology for past wrongs isn’t in the bible.

usually followed by an invitation.

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    posted May 24, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Hmm… never heard that about “no corporate apology in the Bible.” Do you have any examples of someone saying that? I’d like to see how someone tries to pull that off… because I think it might be a good point. Corporate apologies don’t put the blame where it should be. It should go with an individual. Just curious about that.

    -Marshall Jones Jr.

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posted May 24, 2010 at 10:22 am

A good cautionary tale for the Internet age: Be careful of your words, for they may come back to eat you.

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posted May 24, 2010 at 11:01 am

I usually don’t put much stock in apologies because most of these seem to be forced and the person is normally only sorry that he/she was caught, not that the offense actually took place.
However, this seems to be sincere. It’s not often that a person calls themself stupid or immature in a canned apology. Fifteen years in a long time and a person’s beliefs can definitely change over time. I know that I said some really hateful things when I was a teenager and in college about people who didn’t look, act, behave, and/or believe the same that I do. I can honestly say that I wish I had never said those things and I definitely don’t believe those words today. Fortunately, I wasn’t a pastor preaching to a concregation and being recorded.

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Ken Summerlin

posted May 24, 2010 at 12:17 pm

That sounds like as sincere apology as I have ever heard and I think the appropriate response is, “Thank you. Apology accepted.”

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    Matthew Paul Turner

    posted May 24, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    I see your point, Ken. But my guess is that you wouldn’t have been included in his “duck season,” so I’m not sure you’re the ideal candidate to be judging how one should respond.

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Matt Kelley

posted May 24, 2010 at 12:55 pm

If only this was the foot that more pastors led with, Christianity wouldn’t have such a bad reputation in our society

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posted May 24, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Knowing what I know of Jeff Owens, I doubt his sincerity. Knowing what I know of Christ, I hope I am wrong and that Owens has come to a genuine repentance. But I still doubt he has. My first guess is that some lawyer warned him he was in danger of the consequences of hate speech. But I hope I’m wrong. We’ll have to see if his further preaching and life bear out the results of genuine repentance.

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