Miami pastor threatened with eviction from schools sees wider danger
Jul 30, 2012
By JONI B. HANNIGAN

JACK HAKIMIAN
MIAMI (FBW)—A Miami pastor whose church has been threatened with eviction from Miami-Dade Schools because of his preaching against homosexuality believes many other congregations are in danger if his church is forced to move.

Jack Hakimian, pastor of Impact Miami, which currently meets at North Miami High School, became the center of controversy recently when Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said the church should not be permitted to meet on school property due to its views on homosexuality. 

In response to President Barack Obama’s May announcement supporting gay marriage, Hakimian preached two sermons explaining the biblical understanding of homosexuality. 

Carvalho told a Miami television station Hakimian’s sermons are apparently “contrary to school board policy as well as the basic principles of humanity.”

With the looming threat, Hakimian says not only his church is at risk. Impact Miami is affiliated with the Miami Baptist Association, Florida Baptist State Convention and Southern Baptist Convention.

“I don’t underestimate what they can do to our local Baptist churches if they see us as a problem,” Hakimian told Florida Baptist Witness on July 27. “I don’t underestimate their power to give Baptists and conservatives, Catholics and others, a very difficult time in this town.”

Hakimian told the Witness he had not yet received a letter from the school board stating its intentions. Carvalho is seeking a legal opinion concerning matter, he told Local10.com.  

Hakimian said according to the school board and the Miami Baptist Association, there are an estimated 40 Southern Baptist congregations amongst the 90 churches renting public school facilities in Miami. 

Claiming South Florida does not have a strong evangelical lobby, Hakimian said conservatives “don’t have a voice” and are not focused against what he called “very powerful” activists. 

The pastor said he believes the basis for the controversy arose over an issue earlier this year when his church partnered with a PBS-subsidiary television station located next to the school where his congregation meets for worship in an effort to halt proposed legislation allowing a strip club to open next door to the station. 

Hakimian alleges North Miami Commissioner Scott Galvin, an openly gay man, began to call Hakimian “anti-gay” and made accusations because of the church’s opposition to the strip club. Hakimian said the opposition sent out 10,000 flyers, and helped rouse a lot of emails and phone calls. At the height of the controversy, nearly 350 residents of the community showed up at city hall to oppose the strip club, Hakimian said. 

The Liberian-born pastor believes the entire situation might have played out differently had he preached the same messages to his congregation at its previous location on private property before it launched anew. 

“I don’t think they could have pursued the rental like they did,” Hakimian said. “I didn’t think much of it at first. But then—how are you going to respond if they evict you?”

Hakimian said the loose way in which speech, discussion and teaching regarding homosexuality is used as a basis for determining if a person is behaving prejudicially needs to be examined. 

“We call homosexuality evil in the same way they call us bigots and evil,” Hakimian told the Witness. “This is civil speech and dissent.”

 

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