Church groups rip Columbia spending for gay pride

Published: Aug. 18, 2015 at 8:31 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 28, 2015 at 8:53 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Top officials for two religious organizations have asked Columbia City Council members to eliminate funding for gay pride activities.

Leaders of the South Carolina Baptist Convention and South Carolina Pastors Alliance appeared Tuesday afternoon at a council work session.

Council members were examining plans to allocate money generated by the city's accommodations and hospitality tax programs.

The latest draft of those plans identifies 94 potential recipients, ranging from performing arts and theaters to schools, merchants associations, museums and environmental activists. The groups also include the South Carolina Pride Movement. The spending plan recommends $47,500 for SC Pride.

Baptist Convention Public Policy spokesman Mark Hendrick told the council he could not in good conscience support "drag queen performances and things like that."

"It's very offensive to me and my family," Hendrick said.

Hendrick's position was echoed by Mike Gonzales, who serves as executive director of the South Carolina Pastors Alliance, which he says represents more than 500 churches statewide.

Gonzales says his group is "very offended" the city would allocate any money for a gay pride march.

"We just want to be very clear that we are opposed to any taxpayer money going to any of these things," Gonzales told the council.

Hendrick and Gonzales were not scheduled to speak to the meeting.

They were introduced by Councilman Cameron Runyan, who has been heavily criticized for his views by members of the city's LGBT community.

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