It is my pleasure to invite you to Soulforce'seducational symposium"The Truth about Faith, Science, Love and Reparative Therapy" that will be held in Philadelphia, PA on November 5-7th, 2010.
I am Jason Conner, Director of Programs for Soulforce and 2010 Equality Rider. This Symposium holds a very special place in my understanding as a gay person. I grew up in a very conservative Christian home. I was raised Mormon, and I served a two year mission for the church where I preached 'the gospel'. I share an all too common story. I was raised in an environment where people in the LGBTQ community were referred to as freaks, deviants, and sinners. Simply put, I was taught to fear LGBTQ people. I absorbed these lessons, all while realizing I was one of these 'wicked' people who was considered so despicable. My inner turmoil escalated to a turning point while serving my mission. I was trying to serve God to the best of my ability, and yet these seemingly "perverse" thoughts and feeling just wouldn't go away. I confessed my feelings to my mission president, someone I considered to be a man of God, and one of the best individuals I had ever met. I explained to him that I was so conflicted and grief-filled that I had contemplated suicide. I felt so hopeless and alone. He responded by reading me a scripture, Romans 7:24, which reads:
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
Here I was, more vulnerable and broken than I had ever felt, looking for Christian love and support from this man that I so admired, and I was greeted with confirmation of my worst fears, that I was undesirable in the eyes of God. Immediately after reading me this scripture and telling me that I could overcome these "same sex attraction" afflictions, I was ushered into therapy. I had never heard the words "ex-gay" or "reparative" therapy. All I knew was that if I didn't comply with this therapy program, I would be sent home from my mission, to face the shame and disgrace of my family, church, and friends. I spent nearly a year being told that no one in the "homosexual lifestyle" could ever be truly happy, and that "those people" were incapable of healthy relationships with others. After leaving the mission I found a young woman to whom I was eventually engaged, but by the grace of God, I was able to see the tragedy that heterosexual marriage would mean to me. I ended this engagement, and through participating in the Soulforce 2010 Equality Ride, I come out of the closet and accepted myself as the beautiful creature God has created me to be.
I share my story with you to illustrate several important things. I am not angry with the mission president who read me that scripture. I'm also not angry with the therapist employed by the church to "fix" me. These individuals were victims of misinformation, perpetuated by large and well funded organizations. Most of us are familiar with organizations like Focus on the Family, NARTH, and Exodus Ministries. These organizations teach a message that is clearly harmful to LGBTQ people and pose a great danger to our society. They promote views that LGBTQ individuals are sick and should and can be fixed or changed. They cite false science and statistics that they themselves fund and compile. What are we to do with all of this false information flooding the media, the pulpit, and even the floors of the Senate and House? Thankfully, we have Soulforce, an organization that continues to "stand in the gap" for oppressed people. We are delighted to offer this newest educational symposium which we believe will dispel untruths about LGBTQ identities and reparative therapy:
A Soulforce Symposium Philadelphia, PA November 5-7, 2010 The Truth about Faith, Science, Love and Reparative Therapy
We are bringing together some of the most knowledgeable individuals from around the globe to teach us how to confront the false science and news out there about LGBTQ individuals. We will also look closer at reparative therapy, and how to cope as a survivor. This symposium is perfect for all LGBTQ individuals and allies. Preregister now and be the first to receive updates about presenters, locations, and special hotel deals.Click here to preregister!
Even if you can not attend, please donate to Soulforce so that we can continue fighting spiritual and political violence against LGBTQ individuals.Click here to donate now!
I look forward to seeing you in Philadelphia this November. Great change comes from great action. Great action is perpetuated by knowledge. It is my hope that the knowledge we gain at this symposium will lead us to stand up against corrupt individuals and organizations, letting them know that we are people who are whole, and just as deserving of love and equality as anyone else. See you soon!
As humans everything we do is a response out of two things... fear and
love. Every choice we make comes out of one of these two foundational
While I was on the 2008 Equality Ride, a common theme
I heard out of the hundreds of students and community members opposed
to our message of inclusion was, "aren't you afraid of going to hell?"
When I was presented with this question I had to assess it then come to
After I was asked this question at a Assemblies of
God school in Texas I came to a conclusion and I chose I was not going
to be afraid of going to hell. My reason being is this, if I choose to
accept Christ as my savior because I don't want to go to hell but
heaven instead, then I have only accepted Christ out of fear because I
want to save myself.
So... no... I am not afraid of going to
hell. That question exposes the selfishness and fear which has come to
be the very foundation for so many peoples relationship with Christ. A
relationship based on fear and selfishness will never last. I believe
this to be the main contributor to so many bitter, angry, and religious
Christians. They have not yet fallen in love with Jesus and allowed
that to be the foundation of their relationship with him.
not choose to be in a relationship with Jesus because I don't want to
go to hell. I choose to be in a relationship with Christ because
something about him has caught my attention. There has been a
experience with him that I can't deny and I have to know him because I
have fallen in love with him. This is why I pursue Christ. This is why
I walk with Christ. Heaven is not my goal and hell is not my fear. To
know and love Christ and share that with others in this life is my
purpose and goal.
Assuming you do I'd like to ask... Why do you follow Christ?
Please forgive this fundraising post, but Azariah Southworth has so generously contributed to this blog by writing for us from Soulforce's Equality Ride, we owe him - and all these courageous young people - our gratitude and support. Please give as you are able.
We're almost halfway there! Thanks to your response, we
raised $8,085 over the weekend for the Equality Ride -- enough to
continue with the November 5th stop at Ouachita Baptist University.
If every one of our supporters opening this email makes a gift of
$10 or $15, we will meet our goal and follow through with the completion of
the Ride. If you haven't given recently, or if you can make another
donation, please consider doing so. With your help the Equality Ride will
be able to make its last three visits in Arkansas, Tennessee, and
The Equality Ride saves lives. Students at Central Baptist College,
Union University, and Simmons College of Kentucky need to hear the message
the Equality Ride will bring to those campuses. Please give what you
We are on the eve of one of the most important elections in American
history. Many of you have given to your favorite candidates or have
supported LGBT rights in California, Florida, and Arizona where there are
measures on the ballots against us. Thank you for all you do to help secure
our rights, and thank you for supporting the Equality Ride.
Jeff Lutes, MS, LPC Executive Director Soulforce, Inc.
PS. The Equality Riders have demonstrated enormous courage in
stepping off that bus every morning and facing dehumanizing hostility for
the last six weeks -- now we need YOU to demonstrate faith in their work by
making a donation today. Be sure to include a word of encouragement with
your online donation. For gifts of $15 or more, we'll send you a
commemorative button from the 2008 Equality Ride. Thank you.