SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A family member of a Sacramento pastor is speaking out in the wake of controversial remarks he made about an attack on an Orlando gay nightclub.
Christina Peters is open about her sexuality—identifying as queer, bisexual—but after listening to her brother-in-law’s Sunday sermon praising the murder of 49 people, it’s been painful.
“It’s incredibly disgusting and shameful what he’s saying,” she said. “I was ashamed and didn’t want to claim him, didn’t want to acknowledge he was my family.”
The family relationship between her, her sister and Pastor Roger Jimenez became difficult when Christina openly dated women.
“When I was dating women, I know their beliefs; wasn’t welcome in their house,” she said.
In Sunday’s sermon, Jimenez even touched on the point of having to disown family members, saying “There are people in my personal life that we’ve had to just cut off and say, ‘We can’t be around you because you’re a sodomite,’ once we found out.”
Peters has since married a man and has three kids, and her relationship to the Jimenezes is more tolerable, but still limited.
“I reject what he’s saying that it’s OK people have died, that it’s a safer place, but I can’t tell him what he should preach, and he can’t say what I listen to,” she said.
While she fears his message of hate could incite violence, she wants to respond back differently.
“Just because his message shows hatred, doesn’t mean I can’t respond in love,” she said. “[I] still love him, don’t agree with him, but this is me being a true Christian.”
Pastor Matthew Smith of The Table at Central United Methodist Church in East Sacramento, where Christina is a member, applauds her courage to speak out. Pastor Smith is working with his church group to counter the hateful speech of Pastor Jimenez’ sermon through a message of love and acceptance.
“This is a person whose family has condemned her and turned their back on her, and she is saying she is not perfect in it but she wants to meet that kind of hatred with love,” Pastor Smith said. “And I want our community behind her.”