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Inclusive Justice will present a day-long conference called Faith, LGBT Inclusion & Human Rights on Friday, Oct. 19. Inclusive Justice is a statewide, faith-based coalition inclusive of all traditions that affirms the inherent dignity and worth of every human being as a matter of spiritual conviction, and its conference will take from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Metropolitan Community Church – Detroit in Clawson.
“We’re really looking forward to a variety of opportunities to learn about the full spectrum of gay, lesbian, bisexual and, in particular, transgender youth and adults, and their faith and spiritual beliefs,” said Pat Horton, Inclusive Justice’s co-chair.
As in all their efforts, Inclusive Justice will advocate at the conference for the acceptance of LGBTQ persons in spiritual communities and for the equitable treatment of all in local state and federal public policy.
“The goal of the conference is to take a more in-depth look at the LGBT perspective and the interaction of spirituality and faith,” Horton said. “So we start with people who are voiced in Biblical and theological debate about gender and orientation and what the Bible really says about it and what it doesn’t say about it that has worked its way into popular belief systems.”
Participants of the conference will choose a morning and afternoon workshop to attend. Morning selections include: Shepherding and Supporting LGBT Youth and Their Families, which will be facilitated by Peter Tchoryk and Roz Keith; Trangender: Basic Understanding and Beyond the Binary, facilitated by Rev. Phiwa Langeni; The Bible and Inclusion (Jesus and the Purity Code), facilitated by Rev. Joe Summers; and Leading By Example: Cultivating Inclusivity in Progressive Congregations, facilitated by Ben Hollenbach.
For the afternoon session, workshops will include: The Bible and the Transgender Experience, which will be facilitated by Julie Nemecek; Working with Conservative Congregations, facilitated by Tom and Linda Nelson and Rev. Dr. Roland Stringfellow; Peace Making Dialogues, facilitated by Jim Toy; and Creative Destruction, facilitated by Felix and Paula Sirls.
There will also be a keynote speech in the afternoon delivered by Stringfellow. The title of his talk will be “Liberating Religious Liberty.”
“This conference is an opportunity for religious people, or people of faith, to receive guidance on how to make their congregation more welcoming and inclusive for LGBT individuals,” said Stringfellow. “We have several issues that we will be addressing. One is religious liberty and how conservatives are using religious language to promote a narrow agenda of masking discrimination.”
Stringfellow adapted his speech from his doctoral thesis.
“I have developed a curriculum for congregations to help understand why a contemporary definition of religious liberty is harmful when used by religious conservatives,” he said. “The name of the curriculum is called ‘Liberating Religious Liberty.’ I wanted to put this kind of complicated topic of why religious liberty is bad into an accessible format for people to know, especially I think even now with our current pollical climate we’re going to see more and more assaults on LGBT equality under the guise of a person’s personal religious liberty. My goal is to help equip congregations to understand to recognize these types of attacks and what to do to help educate their people on how to vote on these topics and how to stand for inclusion for all people.”
The conference will close out with a press conference co-sponsored by Freedom for All Americans on the topic of forthcoming legislation in support of LGBTQ equality.
“To continue to advance LGBT equality, we must elect pro-equality candidates that have committed to making Michigan stronger by advocating for the rights of all Michiganders, including those of the LGBT community,” said Equality Michigan’s Political Director Erin Knott. “As we face ongoing attacks at the state and federal levels, and the threat of anti-LGBT candidate Bill Schuette in the governor’s office, investing in races up and down the ballot and fighting for a pro-equality majority in the Legislature has never been more important. We must elect leaders who will stand up and fight for our civil rights and social justice.”
Admission to the conference costs $10. Register for the conference at inclusivejustice.org.