BY BTL STAFF
DETROIT — Faith leaders from across many denominations will come together in Detroit on Sept. 10 for a symposium entitled “Liberating Religious Liberty.”
The symposium will address the ways in which the concept of religious liberty is being used to justify discrimination against the LGBT community and the intersection of faith and LGBT equality.
Hosted by The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry at Pacific School of Religion and the ACLU of Michigan, along with other organizations advocating for equality, the summit will give clergy and faith leaders an opportunity to learn from experts and exchange ideas about ways to engage people of faith in speaking out in favor of LGBT rights. This is a vitally important topic in light of the many so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act bills being introduced in the state Legislature, which serve as a license to discriminate.
The goal of the symposium is to support and help clergy and people of faith be more aware of RFRA arguments against LGBT equality and how to counteract them.
“Many of us in the faith community are deeply concerned about religious liberty being used as an excuse to discriminate against LGBTQ people,” said Rev. Roland Stringfellow of The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry and pastor at MCC Detroit. “Every faith teaches love and acceptance, and we want to help our brothers and sisters of all faiths understand that embracing LGBTQ equality goes hand in hand with our religious beliefs.”
While fully respecting the fundamental right to religious freedom, the symposium will focus on bridging the divide that sometimes exists between people of faith and advocates for LGBT equality and will include a full-day of training followed by a public reception and a keynote address featuring Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights; Rev. Dr. Rebecca Voelkel, executive director for the Center for Sustainable Justice; Rana Elmir of the ACLU of Michigan; Kathleen Campisano of the National LGBTQ Task Force; Sean Lund of the Movement Advancement Project; and Stringfellow.
Registration for the free workshop will begin at 8 a.m. Sept. 10 and is open only to clergy and faith leaders. The evening reception will begin at 5 p.m. and is open to anyone who wishes to join.