The director says the shelter would welcome gay people who are celibate.
COLUMBUS, Ga. -- Two women suspected of being gay are kicked out of the House of Mercy in Columbus, one of the city's homeless shelters. The director says the women were expelled for breaking other rules, including smoking a cigarette and shirking curfew.
Meanwhile, both women, now in other temporary housing, say the 'gay' rumors weren't even true. They say they were put out in the cold, along with their children, after a disagreement with a staff member.
Elder Bobby Harris, director of the House of Mercy, says most people have an agenda when they come in and ask for help. He runs a tight ship. House rules include no secular music, no hats indoors and no sexual activity of any kind. Regular church service is required.
Harris says the shelter would welcome non-practicing gay people, but even if the residents engage in sexual activity off the premises during their free time, he discharges them.
"We have little children here," Harris explained.
One of the women kicked out said even if she was gay, as a Christian, she disagrees with the organization's stance on the issue.
"It was unholy," she said. News 3 is concealing her identity as she is recovering from domestic violence. "It was not a place of God."
Other residents testify to the healthy spiritual environment Harris fosters.
"It's great," one female resident told News 3. "God is so good."
Harris welcomes anyone to come and explore his operation. He says he wants people to ask residents how they feel about their lifestyle.
As for critics and complaints, Harris says it is an ongoing challenge to his work to know when to discipline people and let them go.
"It's hard," he said. "People want you to help them the way they want to be helped."