Monday, June 13, 2011

Contact: Wayne Besen
Phone: 917-691-5118

Historic ‘Teach-In’ To Occur Outside SBC Meeting on Wednesday at Phoenix Convention Center

WHAT: A coalition of local and national LGBT activists will hand-deliver a petition to leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention at their annual meeting calling on the SBC to apologize for the harm its teachings have caused the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Prior to delivering the petition, an historic ‘Teach-In’ will take place outside of the SBC’s convention.

WHO: The Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, 1 Voice, Believe OutLoud, Faith in America, GetEqual, Soulforce and Truth Wins Out

WHERE: The Phoenix Convention Center

BACKGROUND: Wednesday, June 15 marks the 16th anniversary of the SBC’s historic apology to African Americans for supporting slavery and Jim Crow laws. Now it is time the SBC apologizes to the LGBT community. The Southern Baptist Convention is one of the nation’s leading promoters of the so-called “ex-gay” industry, which browbeats people into attempting to “pray away the gay.” Bob Stith, national strategist for gender issues and the representative of the Task Force on Ministry to Homosexuals, leads the SBC’s “ex-gay” program.  Last week, Stith harshly criticized President Barack Obama for issuing a “Lesbian Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month” proclamation.

“We call on the Southern Baptist Convention to stop misusing the Bible to promote religion-based bigotry and start recognizing the enormous pain and suffering caused by its mistreatment of LGBT people, particularly vulnerable youth,” said Dr. Jack McKinney, a heterosexual, married, former Southern Baptist minister and spokesperson for Faith in America. “History has not been kind to the Southern Baptist Convention’s record on minorities and it is making the same awful mistake today by perpetuating abuse against gay people.”

“The anti-gay teachings of the Southern Baptist church nearly led me to suicide,” said Dr. Jerry Stephenson, a former Southern Baptist minister and board member for Truth Wins Out. “I entered an ‘ex-gay’ ministry that falsely claimed I could change my sexual orientation and this led to a deep depression. Only after I accepted my true self was I able to reconcile my faith and sexual orientation. The Southern Baptist Convention needs to apologize because its policies are hurting real people.”