First Baptist Church — a megachurch in Jacksonville, Florida — is forcing its members to sign a “Biblical Sexuality Agreement,” an anti-LGBTQ+ statement that denies the existence of trans people, opposes same-sex marriage, and calls same-sex intercourse ungodly.
The statement reads: “As a member of First Baptist Church, I believe that God creates people in his image as either male or female, and that this creation is a fixed matter of human biology, not individual choice. I believe marriage is instituted by God, not government, is between one man and one woman, and is the only context for sexual desire and expression.”
Members will need to sign the statement by March 19 or else be removed from the church, First Coast News reported.
In a September 2021 video, the church’s senior pastor Heath Lambert said that the entire congregation needed to sign the statement to “shine a bright light of clarity in these dark and confusing times.” He also it was necessary to “protect against those who would take us to court to require us to change our policies for people who disagree with our biblical convictions.”
There are no instances of queer people or their allies taking churches to courts to force them into changing their anti-LGBTQ+ policies. Any lawsuits against religious organizations have had to do with their continuing discriminatory social policies while accepting taxpayer funds.
In the video, Lambert said that LGBTQ+ acceptance stems from a “deeply confused culture” and that LGBTQ+ activists and allies “are seeking to eradicate any opposition to their extremist agenda.”
“They will not rest until their confusion has permeated every area of society and silenced every voice of opposition,” Lambert said in the video. “They have sought to shame, silence, convert and punish — even through the force of law — anyone who does not agree with their new and extreme agenda.”
He then spread numerous falsehoods repeated by anti-LGBTQ+ hate groups.
He said that “fathers are going to jail for failing to support the sex change operation of their teenage daughters.” He’s likely referring to an unnamed father in Canada who was jailed for violating a court order not to speak to the media about his legal battle to stop his 15-year-old from taking hormone blockers. The court said his media interviews endangered the child’s and their guardians’ safety. No “sex change” operation was involved in the case though.
Lambert falsely claimed that hormone-suppressing drugs are “stopping [grade schoolers’] entrance into puberty and permanently ending their ability to have children even before they leave childhood themselves.”
Hormone blockers are sometimes prescribed to minors with the approval of psychological and medical experts and the full informed consent of the child and their guardians. These medications temporarily prevent irreversible physical changes of puberty which can heighten gender dysphoria and mental distress in trans youth. These medications do not sterilize children, are entirely reversible, and have been safely administered to children with certain cancers for decades.
“We live in a day where schools allow men to undercut women by competing against them in sports,” Lambert added. But the very small number of trans female athletes aren’t “undercutting” women in sports, they’re merely asking for the right to participate like all other students, and, in most cases, they’re not dominating the competitions.
Lambert also accused city councils of “victimizing women by allowing men into their restrooms.” But there is no evidence that trans-inclusive restroom policies have ever increased sexual assaults against cisgender women. Anti-trans activists merely accuse trans people of being sexual predators as a way to deny them civil rights and encourage violence against them.
Lambert said that he and his church don’t hate “members of the sexual revolution.”
“They may think of us as their enemies, but that is not how we think of them,” he said. “To anyone watching this who disagrees with the biblical message on sexuality. I want you to know that we love you, and God does too. It’s that love which drives us to share truths that may be hard for you to hear.”
He also said the entire congregation needed to sign the statement to show “precious people in our church who have struggled with these issues of gender and sexuality” what to expect from the church’s ministry.
Numerous LGBTQ+ people have reported that religious condemnation has increased their mental distress and suicidal ideation.
Editor’s note: This article mentions suicide. If you need to talk to someone now, call the Trans Lifeline at 1-877-565-8860. It’s staffed by trans people, for trans people. The Trevor Project provides a safe, judgement-free place to talk for LGBTQ youth at 1-866-488-7386. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.