A church is under investigation after a gay man said he was ambushed and held down by congregants who tried to pray away his sexuality.
Sean Cormie, 23, told KFOR-TV, NBC’s Oklahoma City affiliate, that his family had been urging him and his partner, Gary Garner, to attend services at First Assembly of God Church in Blackwell, Oklahoma, ever since Cormie came out as gay last spring. After months of persuasion, the pair attended services on Sept. 8.
“I wanted to go to church and make my mom proud,” Cormie said.
After the service, the pastor, Bill McKissick, began preaching about homosexuality and approximately 12 congregants gathered around the couple, according to Cormie.
"They hold me down, pin me down, and I’m crying, and the Holy Spirit just comes through me, and they keep speaking in tongues, praying over me," Cormie said. "I was just crying, 'Mercy, mercy.'"
Cormie said that Garner was pushed out of the church, but as Cormie attempted to leave, he was punched in the face and held down by the congregation. After leaving the church, Cormie filed a police report with the Blackwell Police Department. Police Chief Dwayne Wood confirmed to NBC News that the investigation is ongoing.
McKissick and his wife, Tami, who is also a pastor at the same Pentecostal church, issued a statement on Facebook about the incident, stating that the church’s congregation “is comprised of people from all different backgrounds.”
“In response to allegations that have been made, this incident began as a family matter that escalated. Our church would never condone restraint of any person unless they were engaged in violent activity,” the McKissicks wrote. “There is much more to this story, and we are cooperating fully with law enforcement to bring all of the facts to light as a rush to judgment is not in anyone's best interest.”
Cormie said that while he and Garner have been receiving threats from strangers instructing them to drop the investigation, he wants the congregation to be held accountable for its alleged actions.
“I love the pastors with all my heart, but what they did was totally wrong. I want some kind of consequences out of it,” he told KFOR-TV. “I want it to be heard and known because it really saddens my heart.”