Prayers for the Rev Brent Dugan, Community Presbyterian Church of Ben Avon, Pittsburgh ...
... who committed suicide. Brent killed himself, when someone he was having a sexual relationship threatened to expose that relationship. On KDKA-TV, a Pittsburgh station owned by CBS. Oh, and the person in question was another guy.
The station was planning to air reports of "public and illegal sexual behavior." Huh? OK, sex in public is illegal in itself. Unless Dugan's betrayer was a minor, it's hard to imagine what could be illegal apart from them having sex in public - if they did.
" The Post-Gazette said the reporter who conducted the investigation explained during a broadcast that he had been working on the piece for a month and had “uncovered illicit, possibly illegal, activity by a local minister, activities which at the very least violated the rules of his denomination.”
Ironically, the station decided the night before Dugan killed himself not to air the story after it received information from someone close to Dugan that indicated that he was considering doing harm to himself, the Post-Gazette said, adding that it was not clear if Dugan ever knew that the station had decided not to run the segment."
I don't know the facts, but it sounds like the reporter's actions in paying this character were of questionable ethics.
Meanwhile, the Presbyterian Church, USA, is struggling with the issue of homosexuality. Their Book of Order officially prohibits lesbians or gays from being ordained as ministers or elders. Make no mistake, though, there are Presbyterian clergy and elders who are gay. Some are in the closet. Some are in the closet even to themselves. Some are out, but could probably be removed if someone wanted to bring charges. At their last General Assembly, they seem to have endorsed a local option for individual presbyteries to decide if gays or lesbians should be ordained or not. And, as you have read, the Rev. Janet Edwards may soon go on ecclesiastical trial for marrying two women.
Before commiting suicide, Brent wrote a letter to his congregation:
"In the letter, Dugan apologized for the shame he believed he had brought on the presbytery, the newspaper said. Dugan said he had struggled with his sexuality all his adult life, hoping to fall in love with a woman, but concluding he was to devote his life only to his congregation, according to the Post-Gazette.
Dugan said he did so until four years ago, when he became close friends with a man who claimed to love him, and with whom he had occasional sexual encounters, according to the Post-Gazette. That man cajoled him into leaving specific kinds of sexual fantasies on his answering machine, and then betrayed him by setting up a meeting at an adult bookstore, where KDKA-TV recorded him, Dugan wrote.
He urged his fellow pastors to renounce any sins they might be tempted to commit and live pure lives. He also explained that just before KDKA confronted him, he had accepted a call to become pastor of a congregation in Northern California."
This is the toll that homophobia exacts on the LGBT community, and on our society. Suicide rates in the LGBT community are high. They are also needless. Brent should have found some hot Presbyterian gay man, had his marriage blessed in church, and lived happily ever after. He was forced into the closet. I am told that the closet is a dangerous place. In Brent's case, it meant a life of hiding, a life filled with thoughts that he was unclean and sinful. It meant that he ended his life in shame.
I could say, it's OK, Brent is with God and he is forgiven. Brent is indeed with God, and he is indeed forgiven, but IT IS NOT OK. Love always dispels hatred, but it does so only when we speak up. Love dispels hatred, but we have to seek out people and we have to love them.
A letter to Brent: