PART-TIME JANITOR RICHARD BILSKI ARRIVED early on Aug. 17 to prepare for the Sunday morning service at Church on the Rise in Cleveland, Ohio. Four men piled out of a white Pontiac Firebird and accosted him outside as he was removing trash. They asked when Pastor Paul Endrei would arrive. Mr. Bilski says he told them he didn't know. An argument ensued, and three of the men swore at him and beat him. As they headed back to the car, Mr. Bilski says one yelled, "This is a message for Pastor Paul."
Police told reporters they had no way of knowing the motive for the beating. But both Mr. Bilski and Rev. Endrei said they believed the men were retaliating for a sermon the preceding Sunday in which the pastor condemned the confirmation of openly gay priest Gene Robinson as an Episcopal bishop. Rev. Endrei said the point of his sermon was that "we love the homosexual, but we hate the sin."
Such sermons won't do, former gay-oriented radio-talk-show host Buck Harris told a reporter: "If [clergy] don't preach tolerance, they are preaching violence."