The groundswell of outrage regarding comments made Pasadena Public Health Director Eric Walsh in a capacity as an associate pastor has reached fever level in not only at City Hall but at the very source of what Walsh says he believes…the Seventh Day Adventist Church. We received the following statement from The Southern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists on Wednesday morning.
Betty Cooney, Communications Director said told Beacon Media “The Southern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists [an administrative unit of the Adventist Church encompassing Los Angeles, Ventura, and parts of Kern and Santa Barbara Counties] is aware of recent media reports regarding Eric Walsh MD, MPH, DrPH. Dr. Walsh serves the congregation of the Altadena Seventh-day Adventist Church as an associate pastor on a part-time basis. However, he does not hold ministerial credentials from the Adventist Church, does not speak on behalf of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, and as far we know, does not represent his views as anything other than his own.
The Seventh-day Adventist church has a long history of defending the rights of everyone to believe, practice and express their personal religious convictions.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church believes that all people, regardless of race, gender, age, creed, and sexual orientation, are children of God, whom he loves equally. As a Christian community we are called to reflect and spread this love to all of His children.
Likewise, the Seventh-day Adventist Church strives to serve their local communities. The Seventh-day Adventist Church recognizes that every human being is valuable in the sight of God, and seeks to minister to all men and women in the spirit of Jesus.
It has been quite a week for racism, hatred and homophobia in Southern California. First the NBA Clippers saga and now a local public official has been caught spreading fear, ignorance and hatred among the community via his sermons at a local church.
Pasadena city officials placed Public Health Director Dr. Eric Walsh on temporary paid administrative leave last Thursday in the fallout of contentious statements he had made about homosexuality and evolution.
In sermons uploaded to various websites, Dr.Walsh, a Seventh-day Adventist preacher, calls evolution “a religion created by Satan,” compares Disney to a “dark empire” of superstition and witchcraft, and censures homosexuality.
Community reaction was swift and bold: According to WEHO Ville “
Dr. Eric Walsh has been recorded preaching sermons criticizing society’s growing acceptance of gay and lesbian people. Walsh even attacked the American Psychiatric Association’s decision in 1973 to declassify homosexuality as a mental illness, saying those who supported it were “raised up by the (devil).”
In a sermon focused on the Bible’s story of Sodom and Gomorrah, Walsh also attacked schools for their tolerance of LGBT students.
“In our public school system they began to teach moral relativism,” he was recorded as saying. “They began to teach that there really is no absolute right or wrong. 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.”
Pasadena is one of the few California cities with its own public health department. Most, including West Hollywood, are served by a county health department. It is a town lauded by the Advocate, a national gay magazine, for its gay community. “This beautiful but sleepy city adjunct to Los Angeles (is) a kind of bedroom community for gays who like to garden,” the Advocate said in its ranking, noting that the city also had two gay elected city officials.
Walsh, a Seventh-day Adventist, also has spoken out against the theory of evolution, accusing those who teach it of doing “the devil’s handiwork.”
Walsh’s comments became common knowledge after he was slated to replaced Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black as Pasadena City College’s commencement speaker.
College officials said they replaced Black because they found stolen photographs of him and an ex-boyfriend engaged in sexual acts on Internet gossip sites, according to the school newspaper, the PCC Courier. The college, now has reversed its original decision and requested Black back. No word yet on Black’s response to PCC.
Walsh was hired as the director of Pasadena’s Public Health Department in 2010. He also served as the city’s public health officer and oversaw the creation of a dental clinic that served low-income patients, as well as those with HIV/AIDS who could not get care elsewhere.
Pasadena City Manager Michael J. Beck has released the following statement regarding Dr. Eric Walsh, Director, Pasadena Public Health Department:
“Dr. Eric Walsh has been placed on temporary paid administrative leave to provide the City of Pasadena the opportunity to complete an inquiry into statements made by him, in his private capacity, and to assess the impact those statements may have on his ability to effectively lead the City’s Public Health Department.
“During this time, Dr. Vivian Yeh is the City’s Acting Health Officer. Ms. Leticia Saenz will oversee administrative responsibilities for the Department. The Pasadena Public Health Department remains a strong and vital part of the City of Pasadena organization and remains dedicated to protecting the health and wellness of our entire community.”
The City organization is made up of many different people from all backgrounds, races, faiths, family makeup, gender orientation and political beliefs. The City holds diversity and inclusiveness as an important value in the workplace and in our community.
Walsh earned $193,600 and $56,900 in benefits.