MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — The city of Myrtle Beach highlighted a religious organization with anti-LGBTQ beliefs on social media and told News13 they were not aware until last week of the group’s views on their website.
The Myrtle Beach Downtown Alliance Facebook page made a post on Aug. 12 promoting Ground Zero. The post said “a place where every teenager can go, belong and grow,” which is also Ground Zero’s tagline as stated at the bottom of their website.
Ground Zero, a ministry for teenagers, says on its website in a “biblical positions” tab that “we believe God calls Christ-followers to abstain from sexual relationships or marriage with members of the same sex,” while quoting bible verses Leviticus 18:22 and Romans 1:26-28.
Leviticus, a book in the old testament, refers to homosexuality in chapter 18, verse 22, as an “abomination.”
In a statement to News13, city spokesperson Mark Kruea said they were “not aware — until last week, that Ground Zero’s website even contained the conservative text that it does.”
“The city obviously does not hold the exclusionary beliefs stated on Ground Zero’s page,” Kruea said in the statement. “As you saw, the MBDA’s post quoted what I consider very inclusive language from the site: ‘Ground Zero is a place where every teenager can go, belong and grow.’ The inclusiveness of ‘every’ is called into question by the restrictive text elsewhere on Ground Zero’s page.”
“Which is it? Every, or something else?” Kruea continued. “The city is not Ground Zero, and Ground Zero is not the city. As you well know, the city does NOT believe the restrictive statements on Ground Zero’s page. We consciously strive to be inclusive, and I think we are. We support LBGTQ+ efforts locally and nationally, we actively work toward the goals of diversity, equity and inclusion, and we are hiring someone to replace our DEI officer who recently departed for a similar job.”
Adam Hayes, a member of Grand Strand Pride, said the city should have done their research before highlighting an organization with non-inclusive values.
“I don’t know about you, but my generation, when someone shares something on social media, you not only support it, you’re backing it and you also believe the same,” Hayes said. “That’s kind of, whether or not that’s the truth, that is the appearance and if that’s the appearance of it, then what are the other people in the community going to believe?”
“I stand as a representative of Pride Myrtle Beach Inc. to express our deep concerns and disappointment regarding the recent partnership between the Myrtle Beach Downtown Alliance and Ground Zero,” said Craig McGee, the executive director of Pride Myrtle Beach in a statement to News13.
“As an organization that promotes diversity, inclusivity, and equal rights for all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, we find it troubling that the values held by Ground Zero, which are rooted in biblical interpretations, have been included in the management and growth of our city,” McGee continued.
He said he hopes the downtown alliance will reconsider.
“We urge the Myrtle Beach Downtown Alliance to reconsider their partnership with Ground Zero and to prioritize collaborations that are rooted in values of acceptance, respect, and equality for all,” McGee said.
Ground Zero leases the former Rivoli Theatre from the city, according to Kruea. He said Ground Zero spent a “sizable” amount of money renovating the building at their own cost, and their lease has about three years remaining on it.
News13 has reached out to Ground Zero but has not received a comment.