Mar 10, 2014 7:34 PM
The guest of choice for a Madison County church's fundraiser is a woman who's seen her fair share of controversy.
But Father Jim Sichko stands behind his decision to invite Paula Deen and as he told us, who better to welcome her than a church.
The church is hosting "An Afternoon Among Friends" fundraiser May 26 as Deen was chosen to be the special guest.
Father Sichko said since announcing this year's speaker, there's been plenty of people speaking their mind about his choice.
"One person said to me, how can I allow a bigot to come and be sponsored by the church and I said, the same way I can allow a hypocrite to come into the church," he said. "Just as the church allows me, a sinner, to stand before a congregation."
Deen weathered a tumultuous 2013 after admitting in a deposition that years ago she used the n-word.
Several of her endorsement contracts were cancelled and her show on the Food Network was dropped.
"I had previously invited her and then all the messiness occurred which kind of sidelined that," Father Sichko said. "Then once she got back up on her feet, she called and offered to come."
Ticket sales have been steady and Father Sichko stands behind his decision and expects it to generate healthy conversation.
"A church is a place for sinner, not a place for saints," he said.