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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 5, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 45
Megachurch pastor announces he's Gay
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Megachurch pastor announces he's Gay

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Georgia megachurch pastor Jim Swilley says he's prepared to start over if his congregation flees because he told them he was Gay.

Swilley, 52, founded Church in the Now in Rockdale County, Georgia, 25 years ago. The twice-married father of four said he has known he was Gay since he was a little boy.

Swilley said he came out of the closet because the recent rash of Gay teen suicides motivated him to do so.

'As a father, think about your 16- or 17-year-old killing themselves. I thought somebody needed to say something,' an emotional Swilley said.

Now divorced, Swilley's ex-wife Debye - who says she knew he was Gay from the start of their relationship - encouraged him to come forward.

Swilley says much of his congregation has been supportive of his decision to live as an open Gay man. But some responses on Christian-based websites have been negative. 'This man is sick and twisted,' wrote one commenter, while another called him 'an instrument of the devil.'

Swilley has brushed aside the criticism.

'I know all the hateful stuff that's being written about me online, whatever. To think about saving a teenager, yeah, I'll risk my reputation for that.'

Swilley said he was going to take it one day at a time, but if there was a major exodus from his church, he promised he'd start over.

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