Religious Conference On Sexuality Draws Fire
A conference hosted by the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is focusing on what it calls the "present crisis” of gay and transgender issues.
The conservative seminary says it's their first-ever conference on transgender issues. Heath Lambert, a speaker at the conference, says in a release that issues like cross-gender bathrooms and children choosing their gender require an urgent Christian response. Lambert is executive director of The Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. He says the goal of the conference is to "help the church respond in the present crisis with the wisdom and love of Jesus Christ."
Across the street from the conservative seminary, demonstrators with the Louisville-based Fairness Campaign marched in protest Monday morning.
"We were outside with signs... and then we had a prayer vigil with candles and our faith leaders," says organizer Henry Brousseau. That prayer contained calls for love, respect, and inclusion.
The protesters argue the event amounts to a lesson in "conversion therapy," or efforts to alter sexual orientation, which are opposed by the American Psychiatric Association.
"All mainstream professional groups have denounced the practice," Brousseau says. "It's just fringe radicals really."
Lambert rejects that criticism, arguing his organization does not seek to convert homosexuals to heterosexuality, but instead leads them to repentance and a new life that honors God.
Inside, a leading Southern Baptist theologian spoke out against psychological counseling aimed at turning young gays straight, saying homosexuality cannot be turned off like a switch.
The Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr. said Monday that conversion or reparative therapy can't bring about redemptive change. Mohler, the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, was unwavering in the belief that marriage is only between a man and a woman. The minister said he believes homosexuals can change by accepting biblical teachings, adding that Christians have sinned against gays by "reducing a massive human struggle to simplistic explanations."
The conference runs through Wednesday. A second protest is set for 5:30 pm Monday.