By Kevin E. Taylor
An Open Letter to Pastor Kim Burrell
Dear Pastor Kim,
It has taken this long to find the actual words I have wanted to say. Yes, I thought about a fast and furious response to your sermon against the LGBTQ community—the Gay and Lesbian community, since you started your response by saying you never said LGBTQ, we are one and the same—and even posted “I REBUKE YOUR PUKE” the day after things went viral and got vile. I wanted to talk, I wanted to hear your heart because I couldn’t believe that this was it, your heart, dripping like vinegar and vitriol from your lips in that pulpit. But I watched it again and yet again because I needed to see if this was the same Kim Burrell that I knew.
I needed to see the woman who brought me to tears during an interview as I talked of how “Try Me Again” was the song that prayed me back into the pastorate when I had one foot out the door. I wanted to see if it was the woman I defended at the Gospel Music Workshop of America when another gospel artist said something nasty towards you, directly to your face, and I offered a rapid retort so that you wouldn’t have to face the shame of her ugliness. I wondered if it was the same Pastor Kim who was the VERY FIRST PERSON I CALLED when Whitney Houston died because I knew how much she adored you and I thought that you were to her what Natalie Cole was to me and I thought you might be hurting, so we prayed while you waited for a plane to take off. I couldn’t believe that woman was adorned in black and growling across a pulpit and spewing hate like water from a “WHITE ONLY” fountain in some land far ago.
Alas, it was you, right here captured unaware, and the hate and the condemnation and the curses of death before 2017 was over were so loud that I instantly and immediately prayed for the young fan of gospel music who might have idolized you and now was contemplating suicide, bringing your curse to fulfilled prophecy. I wondered about the gays and lesbians who sit in churches, even in yours, and take this kind of abuse and then go to the club and have unprotected sex or stay in abusive relationships because once again, they have been told that their lives don’t matter, so they figure why bother to live well or right or even long. I wondered what I would say if I saw you? Was I Christian enough or pastor enough or saved enough to honor your woman and my man as a gentleman or would my old D.C. dialogue greet you before the Love of the Lord did and reduce you to ashes?
I prayed about what to do and this moment, this letter, this opportunity allowed me the space of grace to cement these words in time and to paper and tell you that you, Pastor Kim Burrell, were wrong. You were wrong to use hatred as a vessel to speak to the hearts of any of God’s people or any human being. You were wrong to curse anyone using the Bible when that same Bible commands you as a woman to be silent, cover your head and sit in the back of the temple. You were wrong because the very fact that you are a woman in ministry means that you have climbed these same mountains, overcome these same indignities and endured this same level of discrimination. Yet, wronged or upset or whatever caused that ugly unleashing upon God’s people looking for salvation and receiving sour grapes or soiled gripes instead, you took to God’s pulpit and bruised and battered more people and more souls and now, we who love ALL OF GOD’S PEOPLE must do the healing work to get those people up off the ground and clean off the hurts and hate hurled at them, and convince them to come back into church, where they believe hypocrisy supersedes holiness and gossip is greater than God and try to LOVE THEM AGAIN.
You were wrong to put your mouth on God’s people, any of them, in condemnation for vengeance isn’t yours, it’s God and we are commissioned to not judge unless we can handle the truth that we will be judged too. You were wrong. You’ve done harm. You’ve broken people whose spirits were already fragile and uncertain of what I know for sure—GOD IS LOVE AND LOVE IS FOR EVERYONE!
So, I have gotten that off my chest and I must return to the work of the one who sent me while it is still daylight (John 9:4, my favorite scripture) and I offer you my prayers for peace and healing because only a hurt and hardened heart could have unleashed that kind of hate on someone else, hoping to make them hurt as you did.