Petition to be Hand-Delivered at SBC’s Annual Meeting Following a ‘Teach-In’ Outside Phoenix Convention Center

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Contact: Wayne Besen
Phone: 917-691-5118
Email: wbesen@truthwinsout.org

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PHOENIX – A new coalition announced that it was starting a petition drive today on the GetEQUAL website calling on the Southern Baptist Convention to apologize for the harm its teachings have caused the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The petition will be hand-delivered following an 8 A.M. ‘Teach-In’ outside the SBC’s annual meeting in Phoenix on Wednesday, June 15, a day that marks the 16th anniversary of that religious group’s historic apology to African Americans for supporting slavery and Jim Crow laws.

“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 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.”

Indeed, 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.

Today’s petition drive is being organized by the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, Believe OutLoud, Faith in America, GetEQUAL, Soulforce and Truth Wins Out.

“We strongly urge the Southern Baptist Convention to end the harm it is causing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community by offering a sincere and heartfelt apology,” reads a letter that petition signers will send to the SBC’s leadership. “Instead of SBC churches fostering parents’ love for their gay children, anti-gay attitudes promoted from pulpits are causing youth to be cast off by their families and become homeless. The church walls should be a refuge, not a place where vulnerable LGBT youth are often rejected and mistreated.”

“We urge everyone to sign our petition, pass it along to friends, and post it on websites and social networks,” said Truth Wins Out’s Executive Director, Wayne Besen. “Additionally, if you are in the Phoenix area, we hope that you will consider joining our protest and petition delivery. It is critical that we stand up to religion-based bigotry and point out the destructive nature of anti-LGBT prejudice and discrimination.”

We will announce further details later this week on the direct action and petition delivery in Phoenix.

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