A Evangelical megachurch pastor was forced to delete his praise of assassinated LGBT politician Harvey Milk after users on X (formerly Twitter) pointed out existing allegations that he was a pedophile. Zach Lambert, the Lead Pastor and founder of the Restore Austin, was subject to a Community Note before hastily scrubbing his post.
In the now-deleted announcement, Lambert marked the anniversary of Milk’s assassination and praised his legacy.
“[Forty-five] years ago today, Harvey Milk was assassinated. He was the first openly gay elected official in the country. Milk lived and died for the cause of equal rights for all, especially LGBTQ+ folks,” posted Lambert on November 27.
But the post rapidly began to rack up criticism as many noted that Milk had a very disturbing history of relationships with vulnerable young boys.
Milk’s alleged pedophilia was documented by journalist Randy Shilts, who wrote a glowing biography of the man titled “The Mayor of Castro Street.” Despite being an overtly pro-Milk biography, the book details how Milk initiated a relationship with a 16-year-old mentally ill runaway when he was 34 years old. Jack McKinley ultimately killed himself in 1980.
Lambert was quickly inundated with responses condemning Milk and Lambert’s celebration of a man known for starting a relationship with a child.
“[H]e sexually abused a 16 year old drug addicted runaway who later killed himself due to being riddled with a veritable buffet of mental illness,” said Anna Slatz, the founder of pro-woman publication Reduxx.
“Harvey Milk was a sexual predator and pedophile. This is who Zack Lambert, an “affirming pastor,” chooses to praise,” said X user @JustinPetersMin, a fellow evangelist, in a since-deleted post.
“He’s [another X user] calling Harvey Milk a pedophile because he started a relationship, as an adult, with a 16-year-old, Jack McKinley, around 1963-1964. So, he is factually correct, even though you may not like it,” wrote X user @dcrane2.
Lambert’s praise for Milk was subject to a “Community Note” prior to its deletion. Community notes are user-generated corrections or contextualization attached to false or misleading posts. Lambert has not commented on Milk or the controversy since; however, X users are reporting that the evangelical pastor is blocking accounts that called him out.
Restore Austin, Lambert’s church, is notoriously progressive, and Lambert has previously come under controversy for stating that Jesus Christ would be “LGBT+ affirming.” He has also claimed that his favorable view of gender ideology and his Democrat voting record was the result of his adherence to Biblical scripture.
Controversy surrounding Milk’s history with minors is not new— but despite ample documentation existing that supports the allegations, those who have pointed it out have previously been subjected to penalization.
Earlier this year, a California school board president, Joseph Komrosky, was accused of conflating homosexuality and pedophilia for wanting to keep Milk out of elementary school curriculum. Colleagues started a petition for Komrosky to resign, while governor Gavin Newsom publicly labeled the man “ignorant.”