An Oklahoma church is under fire after a man claimed that he was pinned down by his fellow congregants as they tried to pray his homosexuality away, KFOR reports.
On Sept. 8, Sean Cormie, 23, brought his partner, Gary Gardner, to a service at First Assembly of God in Blackwell, at his family's suggestion. Cormie, who had recently come out as gay, told the station that he had gone to the church several times without any incident.
"I wanted to go to church to make my mom proud and make her happy," he said.
That day, however, proved to be different. As the service came to an end, between 12 and 15 congregants reportedly circled Cormie and Gardner as the church's pastor began speaking out against homosexuality.
"It's a sin, it’s an abomination, you need to realize, wake up, and see it for a sin," Cormie recalled the pastor saying.
As the church members began praying louder, the 23-year-old and his partner purportedly got up to leave, but Gardner was shuffled out by himself. Cormie, on the other hand, was forced to stay, he said.
"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," he told KFOR. "I was just crying, 'Mercy, mercy.'"
Cormie, who said he was also punched in the face at one point, then went to file a report with the Blackwell Police Department, which confirmed to the station that it is investigating the accusations.
Since then, Cormie said he has received threats from strangers telling him to let the issue go. His family has also allegedly told him the same.
"I couldn’t believe it, a church of all places would show hate and not love," he said.
In a statement on behalf of First Assembly, pastors Bill and Tami McKissick confirmed that an "incident" took place but seemingly denied that congregants were at fault.
"On behalf of First Assembly, we have been asked by the media to respond to the allegations that have been made," the statement read. "This began as a family matter that escalated. Our church would never condone restraint of any person unless they were engaged in violent activity. There is much more to this incident, and we are cooperating fully with law enforcement to hopefully bring all of the facts to light as a rush to judgment is not in anyone's best interest."
Still, Cormie has remained steadfast on his claims.
"I love the pastors with all my heart," he said. "But what they did was totally wrong, and I want some kind of consequences out of it. I want it to be heard and known because it really saddens my heart."