Thursday, October 11, 2007

Clay Aiken Concert To Go On As Planned

Church has no plans to cancel Clay Aiken concert

The Wichita Eagle

A concert by Clay Aiken at Wichita's Central Christian Church will go on as scheduled next month, a church leader said Wednesday as the leader dismissed a tabloid's article that the church was under attack for hosting the performance.

Aiken, who gained fame on the show "American Idol," is set to perform a Christmas concert at the church Nov. 26.

An article in the most recent issue of the National Enquirer cited a source who said "the church received a lot of attacks" when it announced earlier this year that Aiken would perform. The evangelical church has Wichita's largest Protestant congregation. The article claimed the outrage was centered on Aiken's sexual orientation.

One church leader characterized the article as "just absolutely false." Senior Pastor David Welsh was unavailable for comment.

In June or July, shortly after the church decided to hold the concert, church leaders crafted a memo that addressed, in part, questions that could arise about Aiken's sexual orientation.

A copy of the letter, circulated among church leaders, made many points, including:

• "Clay has always spoken openly about his Christian beliefs. He doesn't drink, smoke, swear or womanize. He won't sing about sex or even use lyrics with innuendo. During his Idol appearance in 2004, Aiken wore his WWJD bracelet each show."

• "His holiday CD includes several songs about Christ's birth. During a tour for Disney, he sang an explicitly Christian song ('You Were There') which references Abraham, David and Jesus."

• "In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in July 2003, Aiken... stated that he is not gay. This fact was again confirmed in an interview with 'Today's Christian,' an internet website and service of Christianity Today, International."

The letter went on: "Keep in mind, this is an 'outreach event.' Many of Clay's fans are Christians, however some may never darken the halls of a church, but for this one event."

The Central Christian Church leader said that the memo surfaced outside the church within the past few weeks, when someone claiming to be "a concerned citizen" e-mailed the church about Aiken's sexuality. A copy of the memo was sent to the person, the church leader said.

The church has not made any changes in its plans to hold the concert.

"Our official position is we are hosting a Christmas concert and have invited Clay Aiken to be our guest," said Gary Walker, chairman of the church's Board of Elders, its governing body.

"He will be singing songs from his 2004 Christmas album. The concert is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 26 and tickets are $30, $35 and $40."

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