Pictured: Dustin Lance Black (left) and Dr. Eric Walsh
The speaker hired to replace Dustin Lance Black, after he was unceremoniously disinvited to be Commencement Speaker at Pasadena Community College, pulled out today after it was revealed that sermons he gave as a minister with the Seventh Day Adventist Church included homophobic and sexist sentiments. In one sermon he apparently singled out shows such as Will & Grace and The Phil Donahue Show as examples of the devil’s work for encouraging sympathy for homosexuals.
Although the decision by Dr. Eric Walsh, who serves as Pasadena’s Director of Public Health, was officially ascribed to a “scheduling conflict,” it seems likely that the decision was prompted by the fallout surrounding the decision of Anthony Fellow, the President of the PCC Board of Trustees, to rescind an invitation to Black. In that case, Fellow cited sexually explicit photographs of Black and an ex-boyfriend that surfaced online in 2009, advising administrators that it would bring unwelcome attention to a series of sex scandals the college was dealing with. In a letter to the students of PCC, Black attacked the college administrators for “sending the message that LGBT students are to be held to a different standard, that there is something inherently shameful about who we are and how we love, and that no matter what we accomplish in our lives, we will never be worthy of PCC’s praise.”
In an email to Out magazine, Students for Social Justice at Pasadena City College pointed out that, while Black’s photos were private, and made public without his consent, “Dr. Walsh’s sermons were recorded for the purpose of spreading his thoughts.”
In one of those sermons, Dr. Walsh suggested that God still reserved the right to “step in and wipe out whole cities if that’s what pleases him” as he did with Sodom and Gomorrah. On another occasion, he referred to sympathy stirred toward a young gay man disowned by his father on the Phil Donaghue show as the Devil’s work. In that same sermon, he continued: “Today you have whole shows, like will and grace, where the whole theme is around gayness, if there is such a word. How does the devil do it? ... He doesn’t give you a whole lot of it at once...You become immunized against something that was once was revolting to American society. That’s why there were laws...against sodomy and homosexuality. How do you go from what we had in the ’70s to gay marriage?”
The Los Angeles Times has been doing some digging of its own, and has found more gems from the sermons and teachings of Walsh, in particular, a telling extract from a 2012 talk to students of the Seventh Day Adventist Church:
“Disney is a dark empire,” Walsh says in the 2012 talk. “We take our children there, but we don’t understand it’s all full of witchcraft, superstition. There’s no praying to God. When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are….So when you wish upon a star what are you really wishing to? Demonic forces.”
The article goes on to point out that Walsh reserves "greatest scorn" for the theory of evolution, quoting the minister as saying, “I want you to understand that evolution is a religion created by Satan.”