The rejection weighed on Mr. Thomas, however he finally discovered his means again into the pews as a staunch conservative. Earlier than his highschool commencement, he had his class ring — which he not makes use of — engraved with two Accomplice flags.
However educational life at seminary in Texas modified his views, exposing him to debates he’d by no means encountered in Enterprise. He realized of the differing views on girls within the church, and about Gene Robinson, the Kentucky clergyman who grew to become the primary brazenly homosexual bishop of the Episcopal Church.
“These had been the issues my Sunday college instructor had by no means informed me,” he mentioned.
By the point he was on the job market, Mr. Thomas may see his politics had modified and informed his spouse, Sallie, that it’d make sense for them to maneuver to the East Coast, the place there have been liberal Baptist church buildings. However as a Southerner, he had few connections exterior of his house state, and the one church that employed him was again in Alabama.
From the beginning, it wasn’t an excellent match. The racial tensions Mr. Thomas wished to go away behind appeared at all times to be simmering there.
On a sizzling summer time day Mr. Thomas was in his workplace when a number of African-American kids had been enjoying basketball exterior, he mentioned. One among them got here to ask to make use of the ingesting fountain within the church and Mr. Thomas pointed the kid towards the door the place the water was.
When a congregant, who was white, noticed the black little one approaching, Mr. Thomas mentioned he pulled the door shut to to not enable the boy inside. The pastor was upset — it wasn’t the primary time he’d seen that habits.
“It was round that point I mentioned, ‘OK, I must get the outdated résumé written up once more,’” he mentioned, and determined to go away Alabama for good.