LONG BEACH - The Rev. Mel White is angry that Pat Robertson, James Dobson and Rick Warren say they are doing the Lord's work and their anti-gay views are based on the Bible.
"Leaders of the Christian right are making a terrible mistake when they misuse the Bible to condemn gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to support their societal prejudice that gays are bad and need to be healed," White said during a guest sermon Sunday morning at the First Congregational Church of Long Beach. "They are not doing the Lord's work.
"It's nothing less than evil to say God doesn't love homosexuals as they are. It's sickening," White continued.
White's comments were well-received by the congregation, but he was preaching to the converted. First Congregational is a progressive and LGBT friendly church.
"Mel's thinking is similar to ours and his background is interesting. I knew he would go over well," said the Rev. Robert Stapp, who scheduled guest sermon.
Being an outspoken LGBT activist is nothing new for White, who published his autobiography, "Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America" in 1994.
For the past 25 years, White, 72, and his husband, Gary Nixon, 62, have traveled across the United States speaking, organizing, lobbying and protesting injustice against LGBT people. In 1998, White founded Soulforce, an LGBT advocacy group that uses the nonviolent actions taught by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.
White struggled for decades with his sexuality.
During his marriage to his wife, Lyla, who he married in 1962, White admitted he had always been attracted to men. For more than 20 years, White said he tried to cure his homosexuality with psychotherapy, prayer, electroconvulsive therapy and exorcism.
When none of these techniques worked, White attempted suicide. When he recovered, White and Lyla agreed to an amicable divorce.
"I went through decades hearing people misuse the Bible and thinking I was sick and needed to be cured and be forgiven because I am gay," White said during an interview after his sermon.
"Now I know God loves you and there isn't anything you can do to stop that."
During his struggles, White was ghostwriter for several Religious Right leaders, including Jerry Falwellcq, whose autobiography he wrote.
In 2002, White and Nixon left Laguna Beach and moved to to Lynchburg, Virginia, home to Falwell's mega church. They rented a house across the street from Falwell's church.
"We moved there to tell him what he was saying about gays was wrong," White said. "He was a fascist, Right Wing horror. He had to die to get rid of us."
Falwell died in 2007.
White and Nixon relocated to Long Beach last March. White's latest book is "Holy Terror: Lies the Christian Right Tells Us to Deny Gay Equality." It argues fundamentalist Christians have waged a `holy war' against gay and lesbian Americans and describes the consequences of that war.
White says those who preach anti-gay sermons might have a surprise waiting for them.
"Those wonderful men know nothing about the Bible. They are going to get it," White said. "When they appear at the Pearly Gates, they're going to see Peter has a limp wrist. That's my hope."