Anti-gay pastor hired by Georgia health agency

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Georgia health officials are backing away from their job offer to a California doctor who was suspended, then quit his public health post after his years-old sermons surfaced in which he condemns gays and argues that homosexuality should still be considered a mental disorder.

As controversy erupted over Dr. Eric Walsh, who quit his post as Pasadena public health director on May 1, the Georgia Department of Public Health offered him a leadership position in a North Georgia district that includes Cherokee, Pickens, Whitfield, Murray, Fannin and Gilmer counties. Walsh is scheduled to begin work in Georgia on June 16 and state health officials announced his hiring to staff members on Monday, according to the Pasadena Star News.

But now, as critics take aim at his hiring and media reports detail his past sermons demonizing gays and other groups, Georgia health officials are backtracking and offering excuses to media outlets.

It's a lengthy background check (that apparently doesn't involve a Google search):

However, state public health department spokesman Ryan Deal said Walsh has yet to been officially hired because a background check is taking longer than expected.

“That background check has not completed and at this time the Department of Public Health has found areas for further exploration,” Deal said, adding that the areas of further investigation were recent issues reported by this news organization.

Nope, not done yet.

Ryan Deal, spokesperson for the Georgia Public Health Department, told the GA Voice, “Dr. Walsh has been offered the position of District Public Health Director within the North Georgia Health District, contingent upon the results of a background and credentials investigation. Currently that investigation is ongoing and is not complete.”

Still searching.

But that offer of employment was contingent on a background check, Georgia officials say. They are now focusing on Walsh’s sermons.

“The fact is we are looking at areas that require additional exploration,” Deal said. “We are looking at a variety of issues, some reported in the Los Angeles-area media.”

Walsh's sermons as a Seventh Day Adventist minister surfaced after he was invited, and the stepped back, from delivering a commencement speech at Pasadena City College. Walsh was to replace gay filmmaker Dustin Lance Black, who was invited by the college, then dumped over concerns about his barebacking sex tape with a then-boyfriend. Black was reinvited after the Walsh controversy and will speak at the college on Saturday.

In “Sex, Lies and the Fight for Purity,” Walsh condemns decisions by psychiatric and psychological groups for decades ago declassifying homosexuality as a mental illness.

“It was because people who claim to be psychologists and scientists who are raised up by the enemy, and I don't have time to go into that tonight, but the devil raises up these 'great minds' like Freud and Darwin, raised up by the enemy to create philosophies and ideas that war against the principles of God,” Walsh says in the video clip above.

Later in the hour-long sermon, he preaches that if “God's plan was followed, there would be no AIDS epidemic.”

In a 2006 sermon, Walsh condemned schools for teaching that homosexuality is acceptable, a doctrine he claims to be “from the pits of hell.”

“In our public school system they began to teach moral relativism. They began to teach that there really is no absolute right or wrong,” he said. “It’s more a matter of what you think or what you accept. And (according to that doctrine) if two adults agree to do something, it’s not wrong because they are both consenting adults. That is doctrine from the pits of hell. What makes something right is not based on man it is based on God.”

UPDATE | On Thursday, the gay-led Health Initiaitve urged Brenda Fitzgerald, Commissioner of the Department of Public Health, to rescind its job offer to Walsh.

UPDATE II | Health officials reconsidered Walsh's hiring and decided not so much, the GA Voice reported on Friday. 


[GA Voice | Pasadena Star News | AJC]


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