SIOUX CITY | The Rev. Cary Gordon said Thursday he has accepted an apology from newly appointed Human Rights Commissioner Scott Raasch for comments he made in 2010, but he still wants Raasch to resign.
Raasch, who was appointed by the City Council on July 8, said Thursday he does not intend to step down. He said he made his apology to the Rev. Cary Gordon but won't "get in a back-and-forth argument. Obviously, we don't agree."
Last month, Gordon, executive pastor of Cornerstone World Outreach, lobbied the council to remove Raasch from the rights panel because of comments Raasch posted on Gordon’s Facebook page in December 2010. Among them, Raasch wrote he hoped Gordon would "rot in hell," and he called Cornerstone members “haters and bigots.”
His 2010 comments were critical of Gordon’s role in urging voters to remove three state Supreme Court judges over the ruling that legalized gay marriage. Raasch is gay.
In an emailed apology letter dated July 25, Raasch told Gordon: “I made a stupid, emotional comment that in no way was meant as a physical threat, but since you don’t know me, if you took it that way, I want to once again apologize if I caused your family any unintentional stress."
The next day Gordon wrote back, saying, “Despite the fact that I have never asked for an apology, I will and do accept your apology.”
He wrote, however, that Raasch never apologized "during the past three years of deafening silence."
He said Thursday the issue involves Raasch’s qualifications to serve on the rights commission, which hears discrimination cases and works to prevent bias in the community, and his objectivity involving conservative Christians.
“As a commissioner, you are expected to defend me against anti-religious discrimination,” Gordon wrote in his email. “How on earth could anyone be expected to believe that is possible until you have brought forth 'visible evidence of your alleged inward sorrow?'"
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In his letter Raasch called his tone "childish and certainly un-Christian.”
“I hold no bias against religious people generally or against members of Cornerstone, and would stand up to protect their legal rights the same as any other protected class," Raasch wrote. "You may not believe this, but all I can do is prove it with my actions."
"Why not do the honorable thing and tender your resignation to the council so that no one in our community has to worry about whether or not you are out to get them with power?" Gordon's reply said.
“I told you then, and I tell you now that I sincerely hope you will repent of your sins and come to Christ,” he wrote.
Gordon said Thursday that Raasch has taken a public position disagreeing with thousands of Sioux City Christians who oppose gay marriage.
"If he refuses to resign, it demonstrates a true lack of remorse, and the council should remove him," Gordon said.
Under state law, the council could do so, but it has not had a meeting where it could vote on the matter since it came up.
The issue was not discussed at Tuesday's annual joint meeting of the council and commission, nor is it on the council's study session agenda for Monday. The next opportunity to vote would be the Aug. 12 meeting.
Councilwoman Rhonda Catron and Councilman Tom Padgett said earlier they wanted Raasch to stay on the commission, and Councilman John Fitch said he wanted him removed. Mayor Bob Scott has asked for more information. Councilman Keith Radig was on vacation when the issue arose and but said Thursday he would opt to remove Raasch if the council votes.