A Church in Michigan faced angry protesters after launching a gay ‘cure’ programme for teenagers.
The Metro City Church in Riverview, Michigan recently launched a six-week course for girls between 12 and 16 called the “Unashamed Identity Workshop”.
The advertisement for the workshop has since been removed from the church website, although it says it is going ahead.
After the church declined to cancel the event, hundreds of people turned out to protest on Thursday night – and send a message to the teens that they are fine just they way they are.
Speaking to BTL, protest organiser Brianna Dee Kingsley said: “Conversion therapy is what it is, and Metro City Church is trying to repackage it as conversation therapy.
“But the basic premise is you are broken and you need to be fixed and that something is wrong, and we stand against that – we are here to show support for the LGBTQIA community.”
Several survivors of gay cure therapy also attended the protest.
One protester said: “I went through conversion therapy at a local church when I was 15.
“I wanted to come out and basically make sure these kids know that there are people out there outside of your parents’ house and outside of your parents’ religion who will be there for you.
“I want them to know that they don’t have to give in to what their parents say – they can make it through this even though it’s probably hard right now going through all this.”
And Oakland University professor Char Davenport pointed out the lack of legislation banning gay cure therapy across much of the US – despite the discredited practise being condemned by hundreds of medical bodies.
“Only nine states and the District of Columbia have banned this practice. We can make a difference here in Michigan, and we’re going to make a difference here in Michigan. So pay attention, and you’re going to be a part of it.”
A second protest is planned for next week.
The church’s pastor Jeremy Schossau defended the workshop in a sermon subsequently posted to YouTube.
He said: “We’ve seen this movement in culture, particularly younger people, where they are just struggling – and our culture is cheering that struggle on.
“For me, I believe it’s in the wrong direction. Unashamedly. We believe God is the creator of men and women, and that God created men to be men and women to be women, and defined their completeness in one another.
“Not man with man, or woman with woman, but with the opposite. That is God’s design. For those of us who want to follow the God of the Bible, that’s what we believe. It is not a hate-filled thing.”
He added: “Some of you are aware that a couple weeks ago we offered a workshop on the idea of sexual identity for young girls.
“It is obvious that so many young people struggle with their sexual identity, and the direction they want to go with their life.
“We see this more and more, and it has not escaped the church – this is a problem even within the church, and I do say the word ‘problem’, because God does not want us to live confused, he wants us to be whole and complete.
“God doesn’t want us to live broken. We are a Bible-believing, traditionally-minded Christian church that wants to engage the world.”
He denied that the practise was hateful because “this church believes in loving sinners”, and went on to claim parents have a “duty” to fix their children’s sexuality.
He said: “I think it is very clear in scripture that God wants men and women to be married in a monogamous, loving thing called marriage. All of this sexual movement comes from brokenness.
“We’ve been told that parents have no right to intervene in the development of their 12-year-old children. I think it’s not only a right, it’s a duty, and a responsibility.”