Navy combat veteran Carmen Hix claims Calvary Houston pastor called her a sinner.
By Lourdes Zavaleta
A Houston-area woman who volunteered at a church in the wake of Hurricane Harvey says she was sent away by the pastor because she is Jewish and a lesbian.
After seeing the destruction caused by Harvey in her area, Carmen Hix decided she wanted to help. The 64-year-old Navy combat veteran heard that Calvary Houston, a nondenominational church in Friendswood, where Hix lives, was in need of volunteers.
Hix said she volunteered for three days at the church’s food bank. Each morning, volunteers met for prayer before they began working. During the prayers, Hix bowed her head out of respect for the rest of the group. At the end of the prayers, she would quietly say, “Shalom,” a Hebrew salutation meaning “peace be with you.”
At one point, Hix said another volunteer began asking questions about her personal life. Hix told the volunteer that she was Jewish and had raised two children with her partner of 20 years.
On Friday, Sept. 8, Calvary Pastor Ron Hindt and a volunteer supervisor asked to speak with her in private.
“I thought they wanted to talk to me about further volunteer efforts,” Hix said. “I was so unprepared for the conversation that ensued.”
Hix said she was asked why she said “Shalom” at the end of prayers. When she responded that she was Jewish, Hindt told her that she could no longer serve because she didn’t share the church’s beliefs.
“I asked, ‘So if I were a liar with an evil heart, and I told you what you want to hear, that I am a Christian, I would be allowed to continue to contribute to those less fortunate than I?’ I was told, ‘Yes,” Hix said.
Representatives from Calvary Houston did not respond to email and phone messages from OutSmart.
Hix said after she got home, she called Hindt seeking further explanation. Hindt asked her to come back to the church so that they could speak in person. In their second meeting, Hindt told her that in addition to being Jewish, she was sent away because of rumors that she was a lesbian.
After Hix confirmed that she was in a relationship with a woman, she said Hindt called her a sinner. The pastor invited her to attend Calvary’s Sunday service with her partner. Outraged, she left again.
After Hix took to Facebook with her story, several people sent the church messages demanding an explanation from the pastor.
Hindt later posted an apology on the church’s Facebook page, in which he again invited Hix to attend the Sunday service, but the post has since been deleted.
“Recently, a resident of the community volunteered to serve with us and we wholeheartedly accepted her assistance,” Hindt wrote. “Unfortunately, we’re saddened by an incident involving some miscommunication that took place off campus in an exchange between various community volunteers at the church’s food pantry.
“I met with the individual who was upset and apologized for the misunderstanding. (I apologize once again if you are reading this.) I invited her and her partner to sit with my wife and I in church this Sunday,” Hindt wrote. “For the last twenty-six years, our heart at Calvary Houston has been to reach out and share the love of Christ to all people, regardless of race, sexual orientation, religion, etc. As demonstrated to our community for the last two weeks during the Disaster Relief effort on-site, this position has not changed.”
Hix wasn’t satisfied with Hindt’s apology.
“He invited my partner and I to come to his church and the spirit of the lord would show me the evil of my ways and would change my heart to realize that my 20-year relationship with my wife was a sin,” she wrote on Facebook in response. “Please let the Calvary church know how you feel about my being fired as a volunteer and my contributions of time and money to his food pantry.”
On Tuesday, Hix reported that she’d been accepted as a volunteer by another organization in nearby Dickinson.
“Wanted to share great news!” she wrote. “Told them everything up front and I have been welcomed.”