Six new billboards around Orlando, Fla., are advertising a coming Love Won Out conference sponsored by the Focus on the Family Christian ministry to encourage those who are dissatisfied with the homosexual lifestyle to leave it behind. And it’s scheduled the same day – June 7 – as Disney World’s annual “gay” day promotion.
Will there be some opposition? Probably. But that won’t hinder the conference, which has faced such conflict in the past, including companies refusing to sell advertising space, protests, verbal harassment and threats.
At times, in fact, the speakers for the conference that encourages Christians and Christian churches to love those in the homosexual lifestyle and explains how to do just that biblically for security have had to hide their presence, according to ministry spokesman Gary Schneeburger, who has worked with a number of such conferences.
The announcement about the promotions for the Love Won Out conference followed by just a day WND’s report on how those who leave the homosexual lifestyle, or advocate that, are under attack from members of the homosexual community.
Schneeburger confirmed that not only has the ministry been refused permission to purchase advertising, some billboards where its conferences have been promoted have been vandalized, there has been vandalism at churches holding the conferences, speakers have received death threats and feces-smeared hate letters have been sent to the conference.
This all in addition to the obvious protests that some pro-homosexual organizations have launched.
“We’ve had to for our own security had to check into hotels under assumed names,” he told WND.
Such tactics, however, haven’t, and won’t, stop the Love Won Out team from speaking the truth of their own experiences.
“I have never been more proud to work alongside people as those folks who get up there every day and [witness] about their own lives,” he said. “They do it in the face of death threats and mocking ridicule.”
He said the issue really shouldn’t be so volatile. The people who come to Love Won Out conferences come because they want to.
“We don’t kidnap people to come,” he said. And those who do attend soon realize the people “who get sternly talked to the most are Christians and Christian churches.’
WND’s earlier report documented stories of attacks – both verbal and physical – on those individuals or organizations promoting lives as former homosexuals.
One organization, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays, said the term “ex-gay” threatens the homosexual community because “it implies that one remains homosexual by choice. That the gay person need not continue in the homosexual lifestyle is an unsettling message.”
Schneeburger agreed. He said the one thread that runs through all the testimonies of speakers at Love Won Out conferences is the revelation individuals had when they realized that change was possible.
“That message is what folks [in the homosexual community] are intolerant about. They don’t want to have the discussion,” he said.
He said although conference organizers, who set up the Orlando event about a year ago, didn’t specifically aim to overlap with the Disney “gay” days, promoters are pleased it worked out that way.
It will provide an opportunity, he said, to share with the targeted audience the message he got from a longtime pastor: “When your desires are in conflict with God’s word, one of two things must change: Your desires, or, God’s word.”
PFOX said the message of being ex-“gay” is very important. “It is our witness to the life-changing power of Jesus Christ. It is the ray of hope that flickers within the gay community that homosexuality is not a terminal condition. In itself, it says, ‘There IS a way out!'”
In an earlier commentary from Focus’ Caleb H. Price, he wrote of the need for “tolerance” for those “who loudly call for ‘tolerance’ and unquestioned acceptance of ‘diversity’ – but then do everything in their power to stifle all opposing views to their politically correct, pro-gay agenda.”
“Even more troubling is the intolerant way those calling for ‘tolerance’ lash out against those who disagree with them or dare to consider the idea that homosexuality might actually be a changeable condition. For example, many pro-gay activists and their allies routinely say that those who believe people can change their sexual identity if they want are evil, dangerous, hateful and bigoted,” he wrote.
“When it comes to the issue of homosexuality and whether or not people can change their sexual identity, the pro-gay activists only want one side of the story to be told. They don’t want you to know that thousands of people like me exist – people who used to self-identify as gay but now have moved beyond that label and now live and love out of a heterosexual identity,” Price said.
The conference speakers try to get past the rhetoric spewing from some groups that call themselves churches, those who carry protest signs at homosexual events calling for community members to “Turn or Burn.”
“There have been Christians who have treated them in ways that are not Christ-like,” Schneeburger said. Even mandates to “love the sinner, hate the sin” are problematic because homosexuals identify with the sin. “This is who I am,” they say, he told WND.
Those who have adopted the belief that they were born homosexual, too, can experience a real “world-rocker” with the revelation of the possibility of change, he said.
“That hits at the core of their identity,” he said.
The harassment and intimidation of those with a change message, he said, comes more from pain and fear than it does from anger.
“Love Won Out speakers are bold enough to challenge the dominant ‘born gay’ view,” said Melissa Fryrear, director of Focus’ gender and sexuality department. “We believe men and women have the right to manage their sexuality according to their faith. We reject the notion that men and women are bound by genetics to live homosexually.”
Focus said although it’s rarely reported, research supports that.
“One study fueling the debate is ‘Ex-Gays? A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation (Intervarsity Press),’ which found that 67 percent of participants either reported a change towards heterosexual orientation or were successfully continuing work towards that goal,” Focus said.
Besides giving hope to those struggling with issues, the conference helps churches, friends and families respond.
“We encourage open discussion of the issue, and remind people to speak the truth with love and understanding,” Fryrear said.
The Orlando conference is the 50th in the series of Love Won Out events since it was launched nearly 10 years ago. It will be June 7 at the First Presbyterian Church of Orlando.
Related special offers: