A Texas woman who volunteered at a local church to help families in need following Hurricane Harvey was ‘fired’ after church officials found out she was Jewish and a lesbian.
Hurricane Harvey, the historic hurricane that left southeast Texas flooded, made landfall on August 25. The storm left at least 82 people dead and millions more without shelter. Harvey lasted until 2 September, and now Texas is working to repair the damage done.
Carmen Hix, a 64-year-old Navy veteran, decided to volunteer her time helping with the relief efforts. She chose to volunteer at Calvary Houston, a non-denominational church in her area. Hix took a week off work and donated $500 (£368.12; €418.60) worth of food to their food bank.
According to OutSmart, Houston’s LGBTI magazine, Hix volunteered at the church’s food bank for three days. Each morning, volunteers would pray together. As Hix is Jewish, she simply bowed her head in respect and whispered ‘Shalom’ at the end of the prayer. The expression, which is also the Hebrew word for both hello and goodbye, means ‘peace be with you.’
Hix claims another volunteer questioned her about her personal life. In response, Hix said that she was Jewish and raised two children with her partner of 20 years.
On 8 September, the church’s pastor, Ron Hindt, asked to speak with Hix in private and told her she was no longer welcome at the church due to her religious background.
‘I thought they wanted to talk to me about further volunteer efforts,’ Hix said. ‘I was so unprepared for the conversation that ensued.’
Afterwards, Hix called the church to complain. It was at this point that she was invited back to the church to further discuss the situation. It was then that Pastor Hindt brought up Hix’s sexual orientation. Hindt told her that in addition to her Jewish faith, she was also ‘fired’ because of rumors that she was a lesbian.
According to Hix, Pastor Hindt told her, ‘we can’t let you represent our church because being a lesbian is a sin.’
After the ordeal, Hix took to Facebook to share her experience.
According to OutSmart, Pastor Hindt posted an apology on the church’s Facebook page, but that post has since been deleted.
Hix is now volunteering at another organization.
GSN has reached out to both Hix and Calvary Houston for comment.