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