Anti-gay churches have booths at Indianapolis Gay Pride event

2013-05-29 UPDATE: According to a facebook note from the Indy Pride Organizers, These two churches will no longer have booths at this year’s Pride celebration.

Last year and for the past few years apparently, there have been two churches from Indianapolis — Castleview Baptist Church and A.C.T. For The Gospel — who have had booths at the Indianapolis Pride Celebration and who have marched in the Pride Parade, with the purpose of trying to convert LGBT people from the “sin” of homosexuality. Unlike many churches in Indianapolis who are affirmative and supporting of gay and lesbian people, these two churches have a secret agenda for appearing at Pride: telling LGBT people they are sinners. These same two churches have reserved booth space at this year’s Pride Festival as well.

The issue was recently brought to the attention of the gay and lesbian community by Rev. Marie Siroky, a minister in the United Church of Christ and leader of Interfaith Coalition on Nondiscrimination (ICON), a multi-faith organization of faith communities and leaders advocating for LGBT equality and justice in Indiana. Siroky raised the issue on the facebook page for the group Indiana Equality, where she shared some examples of the two churches problematic beliefs.

A.C.T. For the Gospel’s blog post on “converting” gay and lesbian people:

June 9th, 2012 we had a booth for the second year at the Indy Pride Festival. We had great conversations with several people. We focused on heart issues rather than singling out any specific sin. Our goal was not to win arguments, but to win souls for the kingdom. That does not mean that we affirmed any sin, but we lovingly addressed what we all have in common (our need for a savior).

We had a button this year that helped start conversations. You can click here to see the art work. We addressed the heart issue of pride and our need to humble ourselves before the almighty God. There were at least four people that prayed to be born again, confessing Jesus as their Lord and asking Him for victory over their sin. {emphasis added}

There were many other great conversations. Our Lord was lifted up.

Click here for a short video on how and why we developed the button.

ACT Church's Anti-Gay Button
Note the fine print – “Pride goes before destruction”

The video referenced in the blog post quoted above is this one – on it you can see why this organization isn’t friendly to LGBT people.

Eric Bancroft, senior pastor at Castleview Baptist Church in Indianapolis, also has a problematic paper trail on the internet that illustrates why this church shouldn’t be marching in Gay Pride Parades or having outreach booths at our Festival. Bancroft participated in a Prop 8 panel discussion at Southern Baptist Thelogical Seminary called Marriage in a Post Prop. 8 Culture and shared some thoughts on gay marriage that are very disturbing to say the least. There isn’t a transcript and I wasn’t able to embed the video, but you can view it at the link. I’ll watch the whole thing in the morning and transcribe Bancroft’s remarks and add them here. The video is 48 minutes long, so be prepared for a long and painful slog as you watch it. Wear some teflon.

I can see how these problematic churches would slip by Pride Organizers. They probably don’t have time to vet every single booth, especially groups like these two who are being fairly subtle about their anti-gay messages to the public, but open about it to their own church members. It’s interesting that in A.C.T.’s blog post they mention having been at Indy Pride two years previously, though. At some point no one brought this anti-gay group to anyone’s attention?

Update: apparently, this was brought to the attention of Pride organizers last year, according to a post by Marie Siroky on ICON’s web site. But organizers took their money and accepted their application again this year, knowing who they were. I have a real concern, given that ACT has claimed that they have four converts to their preaching last year.

From what is being discussed on the Indiana Equality page, Pride organizers have told members of the LGBT community that they are planning to have vendors sign a Core Beliefs document next year when they apply for booth space, along with a method for lodging complaints, but the two churches will still have booths in place for this year’s pride festival.

Where these two churches are on the festival map, in case you want to check out their booths. What I’m going to do – recruit a camera person (my wife) and visit the booth, introduce myself, and ask them some questions about what their outreach to LBGT people is about. I want to specifically ask “Do you believe homosexuality is a sin?” and get a filmed response. I’m good at parsing what people are saying vs. what they really mean, and teasing out ambiguity, so I think I can get them to say the truth on camera. Which I will promptly post on my blog, of course.

Other people are suggesting “Angel Protests” where folks dress in angel costumes and shield the booths from view. That’s an interesting idea, but not one I really know how to organize.

Circle City Pride festival map

A.C.T. for the Gospel is at booth #52, along the side of Meridian Street, just south of the beverage tent. Castle View is at booth #116 on the same site of the event site, but far south, just near the festival security operations booth.

Pride Map 2013

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. bronxtwin

    Steph – thank you for this article. I know this has been a concern. I also want to let you know that any comments I made on Facebook about this have only been my individual thoughts and feelings – not as an official representative of PFLAG. Thanks.

  2. Anne

    I guess they think they are getting away with something. First Amendment is a wide net, unless they are doing harm. Then I say protect the festival-goers who might be harmed.

    1. Hawthorn Mineart

      In this case, the first amendment only applies to free speech, which no one wants to restrict. But the first amendment doesn’t apply to them having booth space in the festival event – that’s something they have to apply for. The Pride Celebration organizers have the right to pick and choose who is allowed to have booth space in the venue, because they are the ones with the permits for the space. The organizers can say “sorry; you don’t fit our mission” and refuse to allow them. Groups have to meet certain criteria for admission, and they can be refused if they don’t. Specifically, the only criteria that the celebration is setting right now is that booths have to pay them. If someone doesn’t pay the fee, they’re out. They can add criteria to those requirements about core beliefs and meeting a certain set of values.

    2. Larry Gist

      The First Amendment only applies to the GOVERNMENT censoring free speech, not individuals, or events.

  3. Thom Davis

    Steph, thank you so much for your article, which a friend of mine just posted on Facebook. I am truly saddened and sickened that this is occurring. I am not an Indianapolis resident, but have been to your fair city many many times. I wanted to go to your Pride this year and planned to be there. Not anymore. I am nauseous. This is NOT how PRIDE is supposed to feel. Thank you again, and thank you for fighting the good fight!

    1. Hawthorn Mineart

      Thom – please consider coming to the Pride celebration. This problem with these two churches really will not change the entire tone of the festival. The festival has 300 some booths and thousands upon thousands of people. It is a HUGE festival, and these two churches have two small booths. The reason it’s important to make it clear what these two churches are doing is to help the LBGT community in case they come in contact with them. When LGBT folks come out, so often they are not just seeing themselves differently, but are losing their spiritual anchor as well, because so many churches are unaccepting. So it they are visiting the churches at Pride, it’s important that they know who they are talking to. The churches who do come to Pride should be open and accepting of LGBT people just as they are – and most churches are that way. We just want to clarify what these two churches are about.

      1. Karen Luerssen

        If we must deal with this problem, let the community deal with it in the way that best shows us as a community….certainly not hating, they do that, how about a “flower in”….can we get a couple of floral companies to donate flowers so that each and every participant can hand a flower to each of these churches?

        1. Hawthorn Mineart

          I don’t think anyone is advocating hating that I’ve heard of. The angel protests are essentially a version of what you’re suggesting. I think your suggestion might be a bit impractical – flowers are expensive. It would be asking a lot of floral companies to ask for donations. I think there are peaceful ways to handle dealing with them – specifically holding a conversation as I plan to is one, as is people passing out flyers explaining the various churches on site and what “open and affirming” means.

  4. I ran into both of these churches last year during my short visit to Pride (I had to work second shift)

    Not everyone was nasty, but they were very very very pushy. One came clean across the walk to confront me and my sins. Now, having been a VBS camp counsellor in my past, I can talk bible with the best of them, but I didn’t go to Pride to get told how the wages of sin are death.. Because.. those are the same wages that righteousness earns. We all die, and I don’t think it’s wrong to want one single day of the year that I’m not getting shitty looks and comments

    Defend the First amendment, defend free speech. Let them set up outside the Pride space and torment people on the way in and out like the 6 protesters and their signs do.

    I like the idea of the angel protest, but might I suggest that the churches who are going to be there that don’t HATE us for existing come over and police their faith?

    1. Hawthorn Mineart

      Actually, the churches that don’t hate us ARE trying to do that – they have been working very hard to expose these two churches that they feel are trying to convert LGBT people, and to help the Pride celebration organizers and the community know what those churches might be about, and asking people to investigate further. We all owe them our thanks for asking questions and raising the issue.

  5. Wilson E. Allen

    The First Amendment about free speech applies ONLY to government entities. Indy Pride is NOT a government entity. You are no more required to allow vacuum-cleaner salesmen in your front room than IndyPride is required to allow anti-gay preachers inside their events!

  6. Mykelb

    Let’s give them the same treatment the French have been giving us the last few months.

  7. Lauri Swan

    I think all those churches should let PFLAG and other LGBT groups have booths at their next church bazaar!

    1. Thom Davis

      This is EXCELLENT news! Thank you, Steph–this probably would not have happened without your good work. Happy Pride, Indianapolis…see you soon! 🙂

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