A gay man in Oklahoma has filed a police report after members of the First Assembly of God Church in Blackwell allegedly held him down and punched him in an attempt to ‘pray the gay away.’
Sean Cormie, 23, came out as gay this past spring. Since that time, his family has asked him to attend services at the church. His partner, Gary Gardner, was invited to attend as well.
“I wanted to go to church to make my mom proud,” Cormie told local news station KFOR.
On September 8, the couple joined family members at the church, which Cormie had attended several times.
Cormie says there was nothing unusual about the service until the end when Cormie and Gardner were asked to come up to the alter. As they did, church members stood up and began to circle the couple. At the same time, the pastor began to preach against homosexuality.
“It’s a sin, it’s an abomination, you need to realize, wake up, and see it for a sin,” recalls Cormie.
As the praying by 12-15 congregants grew louder and louder, Cormie and Gardner felt uncomfortable and moved to leave. But while Gardner made it out of the church, Cormie says he was physically restrained by the congregants.
Gardner told News 9 that Cormie was “slammed to the ground by his stepfather.”
“They hold me down, pin me down, and I’m crying, and the Holy Spirit just comes through me, and they keep speaking in tongues, praying over me,” said Cormie. At some point, Cormie says he was punched in the face. “I was just crying ‘mercy, mercy,’” he added.
Cormie says eventually it was his sister who convinced the congregants to let him go. When he was finally released, Cormie says he left the church with a black eye and bruises on his arms and face.
He immediately headed to the Blackwell Police Department where he filed a report. According to KFOR, the police chief acknowledges the incident is being investigated.
Bill and Tami McKissick, pastors for the First Assembly Church of God, issued this statement:
“On behalf of First Assembly, we have been asked by the media to respond to the allegations that have been made. This began as a family matter that escalated. Our church would never condone restraint of any person unless they were engaged in violent activity. There is much more to this incident, and we are cooperating fully with law enforcement to hopefully bring all of the facts to light as a rush to judgment is not in anyone’s best interest.”
Since filing the police report, Cormie says he’s received anonymous threats to drop his allegations. He adds that family members, who he believes were involved in the incident, have urged his to let the issue go.
But Cormie is firm in his belief that “what they did was totally wrong” and he feels there should be “some consequences out of it.”
On a spiritual level, he says he believes being gay is a sin, but he is who he is.
“I’m a full-fledged gay, you can’t change it,” he told KFOR. “It’s my nature, I’m born that way, so let it be.”