Florida church accused of heresy over LGBT forum
By Kevin Payne
A church in Orlando is being accused of heresy by right-wing Christians after it reached out to members of the LGBT community in the wake of last year’s Pulse Night Club shootings.
Last month, Northland Church hosted a public forum along with The Reformation Project, a Christian organization that works to increase LGBT acceptance in the Christian faith. Northland Church is one of Central Florida’s largest evangelical congregations with almost 20,000 members.
“We believe that the way forward with the LGBTQ community is not a debate on the Bible’s statements about same-sex behavior, but a discussion on how to have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ,” said Dr. Joel Hunter, lead pastor of Northland.
Dr. Hunter, who served on President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, said that after the Pulse shooting, he felt the church had failed the LGBT community.
Northland has not changed its official position that the Bible condemns homosexuality, it has still been accused of heresy by the Liberty Council, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom and sanction of life.
“One would have to be blind or complicit to allow The Reformation Project to put on an LGBTQ propaganda presentation in church,”: said Liberty Council founder Mat Staver in a press release with the headline, “LGBT Hersey Infiltrates Orlando Northland Community Church.”
Staver said that he does not buy into the idea of building bridges. He cites a pamphlet and survey used by The Reformation Project that was handed out to attendees at the forum. According to Staver, the pamphlet cites scripture that supports same-sex relationships.
“They’re not intent on dialogue,” he said. “They’re intent on changing and twisting the scriptures to support LGBT behavior.”
Although the ultimate goal of The Reformation Project is to persuade churches to fully embrace gay people, the purpose of this forum and others like it, is to get both sides to listen to each other with respect.
Photo: Dr. Joel Hunter