Photo via Miami New Times

A church in Jacksonville, Florida is coming under fire for its controversial decision to ban children from its church services.

According to a local Jacksonville news affilate, Christ Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church has banned children from attending Sunday services because their new pastor, Darrell Gilyard, is a registered sex offender and cannot have contact with children.

In 2009 Gilyard plead guilty to lewd conduct and lewd molestation of two underage girls. While he was the pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church Gilyard molested a 15-year-old girl and sent a lewd text message to another. Under the conditions of his plea agreement, Gilyard cannot have “unsupervised contact with children under 18 years old,” and his new church has taken extraordinary steps to help Gilyard stick to the terms of his deal.

Despite the seriousness of his offense, Gilyard’s return to the pulpit was swift. After being released from jail on December 28, he resumed preaching in January, and  told reporters he hopes he can move past this incident and continue with his work.

“Somehow I will prove that life isn’t over when one has committed a crime for which he receives this heinous label,” Gilyard told a reporter, ironically through text message. “You don’t have to languish on the fringes of society.”

While I believe in forgiveness, banning children from church in order to welcome a pedofile into the fold is not only creepy, but it’s downright shameful.

What do you think? What kind of message is Gilyard’s church sending to its youth?

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  • Devil’s adovocate: Im not too sure how this is so different from R. Kelly being invited to a funeral (although I am sure someone will).

    • The Black Police

      There is no comparison.

      One is a (secular) singer tributing his friend at her funeral. They reportedly had a close relationship and he was picked to sing a song in her honor. Though the funeral was held at church it has no bearing on the participants of the funeral.

      The other is supposed to be a pastoral leader to the church flock. Pastors are held to a high standard. That is not to say that they are not privy to sin. They are humans but this is one big sin. Though some people subscribe to the philosophy that all sins are the same, I disagree. Killing someone is different from stealing a cookie from the cookie jar. Taking advantage of a person sexually is different from lying about why you were late for work. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the concept of “gravity of the situation”. Anyway, though we should forgive the pastor, he should not be given his position back at least not right away and certainly not after rigorous counseling. For me time is essential. He needs probation. I wonder if there is a church council or other accountability group involved here. Most importantly, no group of people should be barred from church – definitely not children. Why would you ban children from church? The man should be removed.

    • Listen.

      I do not care if you did it once 20 years ago or 20 minutes ago. I do not care if you are secular or the Pope. I do not care if the child participated willfully, resistant, or was ignorant. A child is a child.

      Yes, I can forgive, but I can not forget, and I will not and would not take that chance with my future kids.

  • Lady T

    hmmm…..when the church is filled with single fat desparate women, I can definitely see how this happened.

    • Liz

      …and you know this how?

  • Dalili

    Things that make you go hmmm!

  • OSHH

    Like others have said forgiveness, sure, but another leadership position in the Church, I think not. Aren’t the folk leading flock supposed to be held to higher standards, moral and otherwise???
    SMH…..I agree with Anthony above also

  • malik hemmans

    i told y’all christianity is becoming a minstrel show

    • Cat Morris

      Time to disagree… “Christianity” has always been, is and will be exactly as the Christ of “Christ-ianity” intended it to be…. The CHURCHes that CLAIM to be Christian, but clearly are NOT, have become the minstrel show. Claiming to be Christian, whether individual or church, is just that – a mere claim. The proof of such is clearly NOT with this church, nor any other that allows such a cockeyed treatment of innocent ones. As was brought out in another comment, Jesus (the Christ aforementioned) said to ‘let the little children come.’ This church is NOT following in his footsteps, clearly. Therefore, it is not acting as a center of Christianity, nor are those who go along with such.

      It is sad, indeed, that people today know SO very LITTLE about Christianity that they condemn the way, not the false representations. Sad…