Bishop Patrick Wooden, Sr., founder of the Upper Room Church of God in Christ in Raleigh, North Carolina, blasted popular fictional characters Mabel Earlene "Madea" Simmons, portrayed by media mogul Tyler Perry and Sheneneh Jenkins, an exaggerated parody of a stereotypical ‘ghetto girl’ portrayed by actor Martin Lawrence, as “wicked characters” that Christians shouldn’t find funny.
Wooden’s comments, delivered to his congregation Sunday, were part of a takedown of a gospel singer and another member of his group who recently spoke out on Facebook after they were cut from ministering at the COGIC Department Of Evangelism College Campus Ministries Empowerment Weekend on Friday because they appeared to be homosexual. The event was held at the Upper Room church.
“A young man was invited here to do praise and worship during the service. He was not invited by us. He was not invited by our church nor anyone representing us. We didn’t know the young man. A brother from the national church, who we were working with. We were facilitating the service. We didn’t put the service on,” Wooden noted about the controversy.
“When he arrived, the young man displayed, and no one would have known had he not been on social media … the young man act like a homosexual, sound like a homosexual, and talk like a homosexual,” Wooden continued.
He then took shots at the fictional characters while explaining that gays are welcome to attend his church but cannot lead in ministry.
“Homosexuals are welcome to come to our church. Homosexuals come to our church, there are some homosexuals here, probably right now and if you are we’ve never said homosexuals aren’t welcome but our position is this, if you are homosexual, if you are even effeminate, an effeminate according to the Scripture is a man who acts like a girl. A man with female characteristics.
“This is why we do not put before our children, Madea, Sheneneh, or any of these transsexual, transvestite wicked characters. They are not funny, they are wicked. And if you find humor in them, you’re wicked,” Wooden said. “And the Bible says not only they that do the same but they who have pleasure in them that do them.”
The gospel singer labeled as homosexual and his “sister” who appeared to church leaders to be a lesbian explained on Facebook that the church leaders judged them, but did not confirm if the leaders were wrong or right about their sexual orientation.
The unidentified singer said when he arrived for the event, he first spoke with the Upper Room’s minister of music and they talked about songs to sing. He was also told to remove his earrings.
“He stops me and says, ‘Before you leave, I do need to let you know you need to take your earrings out. We don’t do that at Upper Room’ or whatever. I said ‘Ok. Cool.’ Take my earrings out. And the rest of the group comes in. At this point he tells me that he’s gonna take me to the choir room but he leaves so I don’t know where the choir room is. I eventually find it and while we’re sitting in there trying to figure out what other song we’re gonna sing, there was another group in there as well, we spoke to them, they spoke to us, he calls them and tells them, ‘Ok, y’all are about to do praise and worship,’” he explained with a quizzical expression.
“The reason and why he said that we couldn’t sing is because, he said, ‘we have a standard here at Upper Room.’ I said ‘correct.’ He said, ‘I told you to take your earrings out.’ I said ‘I did.’ … He said ‘but the people that you brought with you are not a part of the standard that we have here and we can’t have those people on the platform. I said ‘Like what?’ And he says, ‘You brought a girl here with a short haircut and she got on boy clothes looking like a boy. We don’t do that here at the Upper Room, that’s not the standard we uphold here and we can’t just have any and everybody on our platform if you’re gonna live that lifestyle,’” the singer continued.
“What lifestyle?” he asked. "First of all she’s not singing with me. Second, that’s my sister and you’re not gonna talk about her. Third…she got straight off work and we came straight here. And you gon’ tell me, I can’t sing because she dressed like a dude and that’s not the standard y’all do? And that’s not what y’all uphold at the Upper Room. I’m confused," he further explained.
“So the youth pastor says, well, I’m going to trust what my minister of music said. We do have a standard here and we don’t do homosexuality, we don’t do adultery, we don’t do lesbianism and all these other things that he’s calling out. That’s all fine and well but she’s not singing with me. And because of what she has on, you think she’s trying to be a boy? That’s very judgmental. It’s unprofessional and that’s why people don’t come to church now. You wonder why the church is empty because of stuff like that,” he said.
The singer noted that the church leaders invited them to stay for the service but they declined and left.
Wooden argued that his ministers did not seek to shame the singer but tried to privately explain the church’s leadership standards.
“The guy had earrings in his ears, the guy was clearly effeminate. And in his own post he never said that he wasn’t homosexual. Now that would have been the first thing I would have mentioned. Innocent people proclaim their innocence,” he said. “The problem is churches across the country have lowered their standards so.”
He further lamented that in the black church, effeminate men have become synonymous with Christianity but it would not be allowed at his church.
“In times past, if a guy was questionable. If he was suspect, he couldn’t lead praise and worship. And that’s still the standard here. Now, I don’t apologize for that,” he said.
“We have allowed effeminacy and feminine men to become synonymous with black Christianity. It’s a disgrace. It’s a shame before God,” he said.