Famed pastor and gospel singer Marvin Winans has come under fire from a local woman who says he has refused to bless her 2-year-old son before the congregation of his church in Detroit, Mich., and a heated debate on the wisdom of his decision is now raging online.
The woman, Charity Grace, 39, who recently began attending Winans' Perfecting Church on East Nevada Street in Detroit, says she wants to raise her son in the church to "instill values and morals…based upon the word," according to a Fox Detroit report.
So when she heard that a special dedication service for children 2-years-old and younger is scheduled to take place at the church this Sunday, she rang up the church office on Tuesday to make sure her son wouldn't miss out on the blessing.
She said she was in the process of making the arrangements for her son's blessing in front of the church when she revealed she was unmarried and the conversation broke down.
"I told them I was not married and that's where everything just broke loose," said Grace. A church official told her Pastor Winans has a policy, not unheard of in some churches, not to bless the children of unwed mothers before his congregation.
Grace was told that her son could be blessed under other arrangements.
"What they could do for me is let my son get dedicated, during a week day with one of the elders of my choice," she said.
But Grace did not take what she saw as a snub very well and has vowed that she would not go back to the church.
"I've never felt so degraded and disrespected in my life," she said.
"I absolutely would not set foot back in the church right now because I feel like they look down upon me and my kind, meaning single moms and unwed mothers. The church should be the last place you should go to be judged and denied," she explained.
One pastor, the Rev. W.J. Rideout III of All God's People Church who speaks out about injustice outside the church and all over the world, was asked by Fox Detroit if he saw Pastor Winans' policy as an injustice and he said he felt it was wrong as it relates to biblical scripture.
"Every pastor has set up the pattern of his church, the way he feels or deems fit. But as it relates to the scripture, I feel like it's wrong," Rideout noted. "I feel like we're judging, but we're not judging with righteous judgment…I'm not speaking against the pastor, but sometimes we make poor decisions," he added.
Pastor Winans has reportedly declined further comment on the matter, but some people weighing in on the incident said it is wrong for the church to stigmatize single mothers.
"They don't want you to have an abortion then turn around and shun the child. The problem is not the child. Those self-righteous religious leaders are not being God like. He accepts all his children. Counsel the mother and help her be a great parent. They have no problem accepting her monetary contributions to the organization I am sure. Ye who is without sin caste the first stone," noted Annette H Foster.
"Who the hell are the Winans to judge but their son was involved in Ponzi schemes but they didn't shun him out of the church smfh grow up people God accepts everyone. All sins are equal how dare you call yourself a man of god but you turn this woman coming to the church seeking the word and they turn her and this baby away. SHAME ON YOU!!!!" wrote Victoria Leiko.
Others like La'Jimmease M Jones, however, supported Pastor Winans' decision.
"No one said this child could not be dedicated. Her point was to do this in FRONT of the congregation. As to say to my babies and other young adults it's okay to have sex without being married and get pregnant. Look the man of God ordains it!" she wrote.
"This young lady to take this to the news need prayer! Why didn't you call channel 2 news when you were about to lay down have sex with that person…NO one turned the mother down or child. I THOUGHT THE MAIN THING WAS THAT THIS CHILD BE DEDICATED TO GOD!!! Did not know you needed a congregation to do it! You did not have thousands of folks when you laid down!!" she fumed.