UPDATE: 3:35 p.m. -- Michigan mother Jennifer Kish said that former pastor Matthew Makela, who resigned from his position this week at St. John's Lutheran Church in Midland after his activity on a gay hook-up app was revealed, told her son that he was going to hell for being gay. But, Kish told The Huffington Post, the pastor did not suggest to her son that he kill himself.
Kish said that her original comments to local news station WNEM were "misleading" in how they were framed. The station's original article stated (emphasis added):
Jennifer Kish said her then 17-year-old son Tyler suffered from serious depression and was considering suicide because he was told by Makela he was going to hell because he was gay.
"If he was going to go to hell for being gay then he might as well go to hell by committing suicide," Jennifer Kish said, regarding what Makela told her son.
Kish told HuffPost that the remark was describing her son's own conclusions at the time. "He was thinking, 'What's the difference, if I’m going to go to hell for being gay, I might as well go to hell for killing myself,'" she said.
The highlighted passage above was changed Friday afternoon on the station's website to read "regarding how Tyler Kish interpreted Makela's comments to him."
A representative for WNEM did not immediately return HuffPost's request for comment.
A mother is alleging that a pastor with a history of making anti-gay comments -- who was recently outed as gay himself -- told her teenage son he would go to hell for being gay and should commit suicide.
Earlier this week, Matthew Makela resigned from the St. John’s Lutheran Church in Midland, Michigan, shortly after the website Queerty published photos and texts revealing Makela's activity on the gay hook-up app Grindr.
Now, Jennifer Kish claims that Makela once encouraged her son, then 17 years old, to commit suicide after the teenager confided in the pastor.
Kish told local news station WNEM that the pastor told her son that "if he was going to go to hell for being gay then he might as well go to hell by committing suicide."
Tyler Kish said he did contemplate suicide as he struggled to reconcile his identity with what his pastor told him.
"Deep down I think I knew what he was saying was wrong, but it was just hard being a kid and an adult telling you that," he told WNEM.
A phone number listed for "Matthew Makela" in Midland was disconnected. An attempt to get in touch with the former pastor through St. John's was not immediately successful, and a request for comment sent to the church was also not immediately returned.
However, on the church's website, Senior Pastor Daniel Kempin responded to the media coverage surrounding Makela.
"The nature of Matt’s sin broke on the news and is now out there for everyone to see," Kempin said. "Most difficult is to see the way he has been savaged in all of this."
"We must remember that this was never about the details of sin. Not for us," he added. "Those details have been revealed now, but they don’t really matter."
See WNEM's interview below:
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