Pastor Jordan Brown, the openly gay Texas pastor who accused a Whole Foods store of writing a gay slur on a chocolate cake he ordered, has apologized to the company and dropped the lawsuit against them after he publicly admitted the accusations were a hoax.
Alleged Gay Slur
In April, Brown, a pastor at the non-denominational Church of Open Doors, claimed he ordered a chocolate cake from the flagship Whole Foods bakery department in Austin, Texas. He said he requested for the words “Love Wins” to be written on the cake with icing. However, when he picked up the cake, he looked through the clear box and saw a gay slur written at the bottom of it, leaving him humiliated and horrified.
Lawsuits and Accusations
The Monday following the incident, Pastor Jordan Brown announced at a news conference that he would be suing Whole Foods for the mistreatment he received, the New York Times reports. At the same time, Brown’s attorney, Austin Kaplan, shared a YouTube video that showed his client’s reaction when he saw what was written on the cake. The video, Kaplan said, implicated Whole Foods because the seal on the box was not opened.
— KRIS 6 News (@KRIS6News) May 17, 2016
“For me, it was humiliating,” Brown said when he launched his lawsuit against the grocery chain, “because being a pastor who is also openly gay, I’ve had to deal with this in the past and literally the feeling that I had just resurfaced a bunch of painful memories of things that have happened to me.”
The day after the news conference, Whole Foods filed a counter suit seeking $100,000 in damages, claiming Brown’s accusations were fake. The store shared a surveillance video that showed Brown checking out with the cake in hand. In the video, the UPC code can be shown in a different location on the box than in Brown’s YouTube video, proving that the whole incident was a fraud. Whole Foods also revealed that the baker, who was being accused by Pastor Brown, is also part of the LGBT community.
“The team member wrote ‘Love Wins’ at the top of the cake as requested by the guest and that’s exactly how the cake was packaged and sold at the store. Our team members do not accept or design bakery orders that include language or images that are offensive. Whole Foods Market has a zero tolerance policy for discrimination,” Whole Foods wrote in a statement at the time.
Apology for Hoax
On Monday, May 16, Pastor Jordan Brown admitted that the company did not deface the cake, and apologized for the accusations, saying he was wrong to “perpetuate this story.”
“I want to apologize to Whole Foods and its team members for questioning the company’s commitment to its values, and especially the baker associate who I understand was put in a terrible position because of my actions,” Brown said in a statement, adding that he was dropping the lawsuit.
— Joan Jones WTOP (@JoanJWTOP) May 17, 2016
Shortly after Pastor Jordan Brown’s confession, Whole Foods announced that they would also be dropping their counter suit.
“We’re very pleased that the truth has come to light,” the company said. “Given Mr. Brown’s apology and public admission that his story was a complete fabrication, we see no reason to move forward with our countersuit to defend the integrity of our brand and team members.”
[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]