Two churches are battling over a “sinful” LGBT+ conference called after a poster was revealed of Jesus kissing a child.
Last week, Mid Ulster Pride, in Northern Ireland, celebrated the official launch of its parade to be held in June.
During the celebration, Anglican Church of Ireland rector reverend Andrew Rawding – who is also the deputy chairman of Mid Ulster Pride – also announced another event which has since become a lightning rod for condemnation.
On April 1, Mid Ulster Pride will hold a conference called ‘Blessed are the Queer’, which will be a panel discussion showcasing the intersection between Christianity and queer identity.
Rawding is known for fighting back against “homophobic” teaching in the Anglican church and has attended Pride events with a sign reading: “We are sorry for how the church has mistreated LGBTQI+ people.”
But the poster for the conference, which features a picture of Jesus kissing a child on the cheek, has caused outrage among members of the local Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster.
According to Mid-Ulster Mail, around 80 members of the church protested outside the Mid Ulster Pride launch event, led by Free Presbyterian minister Marcus Lecky.
Lecky said: “Concerning the title of this proposed ‘conference’ – to represent lifestyles as good and blessed which the Bible clearly describes as sinful – is in my opinion a huge misrepresentation.
“The graphic used in the conference poster is particularly obnoxious – why are they using a photo of Christ kissing a boy as the main image for the conference?”
Forced to defend the image on the poster, Rawding said: “My experience from people I know and from listening to people in the LGBT+ community is that children could know that they are LGBT+ from primary school age, and every child needs to know they are loved and cherished by God.”
One of the speakers at the conference, Laurence Kirkpatrick, was fired from his job as a professor at the Presbyterian Union Theological College after he spoke out in support of same-sex marriage on a radio show.
Kirkpatrick said: “I have accepted an invitation to speak on why different Christians hold different views on LGBT issues… I believe everyone in our society should treat each other with respect and dignity, irrespective of differing opinions and practices.
“This event is an opportunity to hear various contributions and therefore merits our attention.”
Lecky added that he did not see much point in meeting with anyone from the Pride committee or the LGBT+ conference because they had “opposite world views”.