Battle of beliefs sparks protest at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary over LGBT issues
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A battle of beliefs over homosexual and transgender living sparked a protest outside the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Monday morning -- and the Baptist college issued a response.
More than 2,000 pastors, preachers, ministers and other church leaders from across the country are expected to be at the seminary this week for conferences on transgender and homosexual living.
The event, which is sponsored by the Association of Certified Bible Counselors, brought about 40 demonstrators to the seminary on Lexington Road this morning. The protesters say they are not living a life of sin and that they don't need to be changed.
But the heart of their protest, they say, is that the conference is going to be teaching reparative therapy -- a form of counseling that some Christian counselors use that protesters claim increases depression and suicide in the LGBT community.
"The pastor and some elders laid hands on me and poured oil on my head to cast out demons of homosexuality," recalled Aaron Guldenschuh-Gatten, a homosexual.
Church organizers say that the protesters are wrong and that they do not support reparative therapy and that the conference is intended to counsel church leaders on how to speak publicly and counsel families on transgender and homosexual issues.
But ultimately the goal is to help the lesbian, gay or transgender person change.
"The standard for sexuality in the bible is one man and one woman in the context of Christian marriage," said Heath Lambert, the executive director of the Association of Certified Bible Counselors.
"Our message is that all people are broken and desperately need redemption -- not merely reparative therapy," said Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. "And that when it comes to sexuality, we do believe that wholeness and holiness can come -- and will come -- to the one who faithfully follows Christ."
"We do not call people to embrace heterosexuality," added Lambert. "We call people to embrace Christian faithfulness."
"This is a recurring theme, unfortunately, of LGBT folks persistently being targeted -- fixated upon -- and attempted to persuade to change the nature of who they are," said Chris Hartman, spokesperson for the Fairness Campaign. "And we know that this is a dangerous -- and frankly a deadly -- course of therapy for folks."
"They say they don't support reparative therapy, but they do," said Henry Brousseau, who identifies as a transgender man. "They support praying the gay away, and we don't believe being gay is something you have to fix or change."
Both sides say they believe, but have different interpretations of God's Word. It's a familiar argument in the commonwealth, home to the couples who fought and won the right to legalize gay marriage nationwide, and the clerks who refuse to follow the order.
In many ways Kentucky has become the epicenter of the spiritual debate.
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