Church Fighting Plano’s LGBT Non-Discrimination Ordinance Was Once Home To Minister Caught in Underage Sex Sting

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Last month, the Plano City Council passed a non-discrimination ordinance that extended protection to its LGBT citizens. As we reported then, the measure has drawn the ire of many conservative Christians angry that the law doesn’t protect their right to be bigoted. Since the ordinance passed, they have been organizing in an effort to repeal the ordinance.

Opponents of the ordinance have launched a website to gather signatures for repeal, www.planoequalrights.com/, with the banner “Plano Citizens United: Equal Rights For All/Special Rights For None.” The site is home to lots of reactionary, discriminatory gems such as these:

    “Under Plano’s new ordinance (2014-12-7) anything any business owner or employee says or does to another person regarding the person’s gender, sexuality, or “identity” may be a CRIME. Plano now CRIMINALIZES Christians’, Jews’, Muslims’, and others’ beliefs about men and women. City bureaucrats will determine whether citizens’ statements and actions are “unjust”. This policy subjects citizens to CRIMINAL SANCTIONS for our beliefs on topics affecting much of human interaction and is a direct threat to our freedoms of both speech and religion!”

As Towelroad reported, opponents of the ordinance will need 3,822 signatures by January 20 to qualify their repeal effort for the ballot. The efforts are being led by the Houston-based Texas Pastor Council, the same organization whose petition to repeal a similar ordinance was rejected due to invalid signatures, leading to a lawsuit.

They’ve also been leaving bigoted flyers on residents’ doors, decrying the LGBT “militant agenda” like the following (via Towelroad):

plano bigot flyer

The anti-gay pastors met last month at a Plano megachurch, the Prestonwood Baptist Church–a church that is routinely referred to as “Six Flags Over Jesus.” Their meeting was opened by Dr. Jack Graham, Senior Pastor of Prestonwood, who was followed by speakers from the Texas Pastor Council and the Liberty Institute.

The use of Prestonwood Baptist Church as a home base is troubling, because back in 2008, a Prestonwood minister was arrested for soliciting sex with a minor. As the AP originally reported (emphasis added):

    “[Rev. Joe] Barron was charged … with online solicitation of a minor. Undercover officers posing as a 13-year-old girl communicated with the 52-year-old minister for about two weeks. The online conversations were sexual in nature, police said.

    On May 6, Barron suggested meeting the girl in person. He drove nearly 200 miles on Thursday to meet her in Bryan, where he was arrested. Police said they found a web-cam and condoms in the minister’s car.

According to reports, Barron had borrowed his wife’s car to meet the girl, and had brought condoms hidden in a golf ball box. Police found evidence of sexually explicit chats with more than 25 women on Barron’s phone.

Barron’s arrest came after Prestonwood’s senior founding minister stepped down after an affair. He had been serving as the “minister of married adults” at Prestonwood prior to the incident. After being caught, Barron resigned, and all information about his tenure was scrubbed from the megachurch’s website. Perhaps that’s why Prestonwood thought it could get away with housing a bigoted anti-gay movement without a second look.

It’s clear that before trying to police others’ behavior, church members should take a long hard look at their own. A church that was once home to an attempted child molestor has no business trying to declare its moral superiority over others. Prestonwood Baptist Church should focus on making sure its own clergy aren’t getting caught in undercover sex stings instead of trying to force its bigoted beliefs on Plano residents.

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About Author

Katie Singh

Katie grew up in Austin and has been involved in Texas politics since 2004. She has been a part of several campaigns, from state house races to working at President Obama's campaign headquarters in 2012. She loves public policy, public health, and tacos. Katie tweets from @kasingh19.

9 Comments

  1. Would you accept the statement that LGBT people don’t deserve equal protections because of the actions of a gay pedophile? No, because that’s a ridiculous argument. Your argument is equally as ridiculous.

    To call the petition bigoted is a fair opinion. To say these people have no right to petition because of a ministers personal action 7 years ago is ridiculous. The irony is, you say these people have no right to petition while you champion for equal rights.

    • I don’t see the author saying the church does not have the right to petition. Look at the last paragraph: it contains the word “should” twice. Never does she use the word “must.” I think the point the author is making is that, while Prestonwood has the RIGHT to organize whatever action they want to in response to something that makes them unhappy, this particular petition makes them hypocritical.

      And we all know what 1 John 4:20 says about hypocrisy, right???

    • equality first on

      ACETX, nowhere in this article doess Ms Singh state that these people do not have the right to petition. What she clearly states is that before casting the stone, by sponsoring such a bigoted petition and it’s supporters, Prestonwood should look at it’s own sins and sinners.

    • I agree. The church as a right to exercise a petition because it’s simply their right! And the actions of individuals in the church do not speak for the entire congregation or Pastors. People who work in ministry are people like everyone else and will fall short.

      However I do think a more understanding approach should be taken to the LGBT movement in that no one should feel as if they’ve been discriminated against for simply being themselves. They deserve equal rights, but not special privileges- which I’m not sure that’s what members of the LGBT movement are striving for in the first place.

  2. Doesn’t the city need to fix the road water and sewer systems in fron of the church? I’m sure I saw it on the schedule!

  3. No person who knows someone bad should have an opinion about anything. Looking forward to the universal application of this facet of “tolerance.”

  4. Katelyn Nivens on

    First: So where the law that says its a crime to say something against Christians, or any other religions? 1st amendment gives us freedom of speech right? You can’t charge someone with a crime every time you get your feelings hurt.
    Second: if you haven’t noticed the church doesn’t claim to be perfect, it fully recognizes that people sin, the people that work at or with the church aren’t claiming to be perfect either, I’m confused on how saying that someone in the church isn’t perfect is a selling point? Because no one in that church is but God himself. Why not call out everyone? How about we pull out every mistake this writer made? The point of Christianity isn’t that we are perfect or better, it’s that Jesus is perfect and better. And he gives overflowing grace to all, he doesn’t discriminate anyone.

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