North Carolina: an anti-gay 'Can you be gay and Christian' forum

Interstate Q's Matt Hill Comer, a friend of the Blend, has a long, thorough report on an event in Concord, NC (not far from Charlotte) hosted by the Coalition of Conscience. It's headed up by Dr. Michael Brown.

In Matt's report he notes that the intent of the forum was to open up a dialogue between the the fundie Coalition and gay & gay-friendly clergy in the area, but in fact, none of the over 500 invitations sent out for the event to the latter resulted in any attending. Matt was one of only two out gay people there (the other was a friend Matt brought along).

Brown's approach in theory sounded good:

“We want to open a door of grace to the gay & lesbian community. We are convinced from the Scriptures that Jesus is against homosexual practice. We are equally convinced that Jesus died for homosexual and heterosexual alike,” Brown said, “We know there is a lot of misunderstanding. We know that a lot of gays and lesbians have been driven out of churches as if homosexuality was the worst of all sins?. Just by saying, 'Let's talk about it,' hopefully we can break a wall down there.”

Unfortunately, in practice, it was pretty clear that breaking down walls wasn't exactly what he had in mind.

At the beginning of the forum, however, Brown made his point very clear: One cannot be gay & Christian, or rather, one cannot be a self-affirming gay person and Christian:

“If you mean, can I be a devoted follower of Jesus while struggling with unwanted sexual desires, while saying I know these are wrong, I resist them, I don't give into them, I do not practice homosexuality, I'm celibate and I'm abstaining from these things and my goal is to be pure in front of the Lord, but I'm still struggling with these things? Can you be gay and follow Jesus? In that sense, yes. And that's the same as a heterosexual struggling with lust, desire, temptation outside of wedlock. However, if you mean can I practice homosexuality? Can I engage in romantic and same-sex relationships and does God endorse those things and can I be a follower of Jesus at the same time? The answer is absolutely, categorically no. The Scripture leaves no room to question that.”

It sounds like a call for some pray-away-the-gay therapy, no? You won't believe who one of the guest speakers was — Stephen Bennett. See what he bleated after the jump. Matt continues:

Another member of the panel during the forum was Stephen Bennett, the leader of an ex-gay ministry. Bennett calls himself a “former homosexual” and gave his testimony during the forum. Relating his childhood of growing up with an alcoholic father, never fitting in at school, desiring the attention and approval of both his father and his fellow schoolmates, Bennett eventually made the case that a part of his “homosexual sin” was directly tied the love he never felt from his father.

Stephen, btw, was at Monday's Values Voters Presidential Candidates Debate in Fort Lauderdale.

During his very emotional testimony, Bennett related his “introduction to the Wonderful World of Homosexuality,” after he was dumped by the college school mate with whom he had his first gay relationship. Bennett related how he met with past school mates who were also gay.

“They introduced me to the gay bar scene and for the next eleven years my life was on a downward spiral as I got deeply involved in the homosexual lifestyle,” Bennett related.

Enough of that. See Matt's testimony at the forum:

The response to his testimony is here. He also has audio.

As you might expect, those in the audience got an earful about homosexuality and  pedophilia, incest, bestiality, adultery, alcoholism, and the rest of it all. Matt breaks it all down and covers a lot of ground in his post so, please go read the rest.

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