In a recent article, I chronicled the incidents surrounding a Florida church threatened with the loss of its lease because of allegedly anti-gay sermons by its pastor. To briefly recap the story, Pastor Jack Hakimian leased space for his Impact Miami church from the Miami-Dade school district, though when the district’s superintendent received word of supposedly bigoted messages from the pulpit, he tried to find a way to evict the church. While the story of Christians persecuted for spreading the Word of God is unfortunately not rare in modern America, this was a cautionary story I felt needed to be shared.
As fate would have it, I discovered after writing the article that Pastor Hakimian was one of my social media contacts. In my capacity as the founder of The Informed Conservative, I have been blessed with thousands of smart, diverse online acquaintances. Still, the odds are incredibly small that I would be connected with a pastor I have never met, more than 1,300 miles away from me, who I just wrote an article about. I knew I had to reach out to him.
The principled pastor graciously agreed to speak with me, and I am pleased to report an interesting development in the story through this exclusive interview.
Hakimian said he has led the Impact Miami for about two and a half years, explaining the church has leased space from the school district for the past seven to eight months. The relationship between the church and district was good, he said, until a local reporter decided to become part of the story.
“Local 10 reporter Jeff Weinsier brought it to [the school board’s] attention,” Hakimian said. “He saw a sermon on YouTube.”
Turning a biblical view of homosexuality into a call for action, Weinsier alerted officials about the video, which led to outrage among some in the Miami government.
“I think they were overreacting to the message that homosexuality is a sin, and I think it was provoked by a homosexual councilman who doesn’t necessarily like us because of our moral stance in the city,” Hakimian said. “It’s more of a witch hunt than anything.”
In a positive development for the good pastor and his flock, the school board backed down after the story began to spread.
“I think they just realized they would have a long legal battle,” Hakimian reasoned, adding they might have also recognized the precedents set across this nation allowing the free expression of religious views in places of worship.
As for whether the church will remain in its current location, the pastor said he will follow God’s direction.
“As of now, we will see what happens,” he said.
Speaking candidly about his actual feelings toward homosexuality, rather than what those with an obvious agenda claim he believes, Hakimian said he is concerned for the eternal souls of anyone living in sin.
“I think we should treat all people who are living a life that God would not agree with with love and respect,” he said, “but we should try to persuade them to walk by faith and to walk in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord.”
This supposedly hateful rhetoric sounds like the beliefs of nearly every practicing Christian on the planet, and Hakimian made a point to separate his values from those of blatantly anti-gay congregations.
“There’s a gospel message and a gospel mission behind it,” he explained. “We’re nothing like the Westboro people.”
Just as Jesus Christ dealt with sinners where they were and encouraged them to turn away from their sinful lifestyles, Hakimian said he just wants to see more people make it to heaven.
“Caring doesn’t mean we don’t deal with truth and biblical revelation and stay committed to that,” he said. “I can love you, but disagree and debate.”