A flyer the Washington Blade obtained that features a picture of a man with chains hanging from his wrists says Danielle Harrison, Michael Carducci and Wayne Blakely of ‘Coming Out’ Ministries are at the Southampton Seventh-Day Adventist Church for a series of events the Bermuda Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists Human Relations Department sponsored. These include “testimonies and presentations that will answer questions about” homosexuality and whether Jesus can “really save homosexuals from their attractions,” among other issues.
An event described as a “Q & A” is scheduled to take place at the church on Saturday afternoon.
“We welcome all to come and be informed,” reads the flyer.
‘Coming Out’ Ministries on its website states it “would like to share how we found redemption, victory, healing and freedom from homosexuality.” It further says that Carducci and Blakely are “living proof that God changes lives when we call out to him, invite him in, fully submit our will and abide in him.”
“No greater joy has been experienced in our lives than that which has freed us from the chains of homosexuality,” reads ‘Coming Out’ Ministries’ website. “We uplift Jesus in presenting our unified ministry; ‘Coming Out’ Ministries. God called us out of the darkness into the light and it is because of this blessed experience that we celebrate ‘Coming Out.’”
‘Coming Out’ Ministries on its website also appears to speak out against same-sex sexual activity.
“Over thousands of years, Satan has sought to counterfeit God’s intimate gifts with self centered indulgences,” it reads. “God gave this intimate gift only to be shared within the confines of His perfect plan for men and women. It is not the only plan for his precious children, but is the only one he condones regarding sexual intimacy. At the costly risk of ignorance, many who do not understand gay/homosexual deceptions, are apt to provide affirmation and sympathy rather than the hope and healing that God would have us share with this natural, yet sinful inclination.”
Local activists accuse ministry of promoting ‘hurtful’ ideas
LGBT rights advocates in the British territory this week criticized the ‘Coming Out’ Ministries events and the Southampton Seventh-Day Adventist Church for hosting them.
“Groups like ‘Coming Out’ Ministries promote hurtful, exploitative, alienating and other ideas about the LGBTQ community that are harmful for impressionable children, teenagers and young adults who are indoctrinated from a young age to believe that LGBTQ identities are dangerous,” said the Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda in a statement. “Perpetuating homophobic bullying and societal rejection of both LGBTQ youths, and the LGBTQ community in general, has tragic consequences. Bullying and social stigma results in a high rate of LGBTQ youth suicide internationally. The Rainbow Alliance strongly rejects the idea that any influence should be allowed to impact negatively on Bermuda’s youth.”
The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda on Thursday pointed out to the Blade the church last September hosted a televised forum during which local politicians spoke out against homosexuality and marriage rights for same-sex couples in the British territory.
“It is disappointing to hear that there is an effort by the ‘Coming Out’ Ministries’ guest speakers to alter the sexual orientation of individuals,” stressed the organization in its statement. “We accept people of all sexual orientations and gender identities and reject the notion that individuals should be or could be forced to change their identities.”
Shari-Lynn Pringle of Two Words and a Comma, another Bermudan LGBT advocacy group, echoed the Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda’s criticisms of the events and ‘Coming Out’ Ministries.
“They do a disservice to people who do believe and who are Christians and who are homosexual,” Pringle told the Royal Gazette, a Bermuda newspaper. “They do a disservice to children in Bermuda who already struggle with telling their parents because nine times out of 10 they are going to get kicked out of the house or beat up.”
Blakely, who co-founded ‘Coming Out’ Ministries, defended his ministry in an e-mail to the Blade from Bermuda.
“Our ministry is in no way about hate or discrimination,” he said. “It’s about choosing Jesus over what came natural to us. Living to glorify God instead of self. We travel the world today sharing our testimonies of what is possible through him.”
“One important point to be clear about is that we don’t tell people that they need to change from gay to straight,” added Blakely. “While I still experience same-sex attraction, I don’t identify by my temptations. I make a choice about what I’m going to do with my temptations. I choose to surrender them to Jesus Christ and live for him.”
The Southampton Seventh-Day Adventist Church did not return the Blade’s request for comment.
Pastor DeJuan Tull of the Southampton Seventh-Day Adventist Church told the Royal Gazette his congregation is a “very compassionate church” as he defended the events. Tull nevertheless highlighted his opposition to homosexuality.
“The Bible teaches that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of heaven — it is not just limited to homosexuality, it talks about liars and fornicators,” he told the Royal Gazette. “Our [guest speakers] have overcome and they are a testimony that it can be done.”
Anti-LGBT American groups expand international efforts
U.S.-based organizations in recent years have come under increased scrutiny for backing anti-LGBT groups and causes outside the country.
National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown traveled to France to support the group that campaigned against the country’s same-sex marriage law that took effect in 2013.
A 2013 report from the Southern Poverty Law Center notes the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute and Extreme Prophetic Ministries have offered support to the group opposing efforts to repeal Belize’s anti-sodomy law. Mat Staver, chair of the Liberty Counsel, and Dr. Judith Reisman, a vocal critic of Alfred Kinsey’s research on sexuality, last month spoke at a conference in the Jamaican capital organized by anti-LGBT organizations defending the country’s colonial-era statute that criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual acts.
A Ugandan LGBT advocacy group in 2012 filed a federal lawsuit against Scott Lively, an American evangelical, for allegedly inflaming anti-LGBT attitudes in the East African country before Parliamentarian David Bahati introduced his controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill three years earlier.
Lively last February during a D.C. press conference reiterated his praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin for signing a law banning the promotion of so-called gay propaganda to minors in his country.
“We want to praise the Russian Federation for providing much-needed leadership in restoring family values in public policy,” said Lively before two LGBT rights advocates heckled him.