Bigotry, the Bible and the Lessons of Indiana

“Then there’s the 2014 book ‘God and the Gay Christian,’ by Matthew Vines, who has garnered significant attention and drawn large audiences for his eloquent take on what the New Testament — which is what evangelicals draw on and point to — really communicates.”
“Evaluating its sparse invocations of homosexuality, he notes that there wasn’t any awareness back then that same-sex attraction could be a fundamental part of a person’s identity, or that same-sex intimacy could be an expression of love within the context of a nurturing relationship.”
“’It was understood as a kind of excess, like drunkenness, that a person might engage in if they lost all control, not as a unique identity,’ Vines told me, adding that Paul’s rejection of same-sex relations in Romans I was ‘akin to his rejection of drunkenness or his rejection of gluttony.’”

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AUDIO: Matthew and Monte Vines on The Diane Rehm Show

Religious beliefs that marriage should only be between a man and a woman are behind some of the new religious freedom bills debated in Indiana and other states. While many protestant denominations allow gay weddings within their churches, most evangelical churches remain opposed to same-sex marriage. To many evangelicals, the debate is rooted in their belief that the bible says gay relationships are a sin. But a new national movement of young evangelicals is challenging this interpretation. Using theological arguments, they are starting to change church teachings on sexual orientation.

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VIDEO: CNN Debunks ‘God Versus Gays’ Narrative In Coverage Of Indiana’s “Religious Freedom” Law

Costello asked Vines to respond to comments made by Fox News contributor Erick Erickson, who criticized the media for helping the “agents of Satan” with their coverage of the law. Vines noted that Erickson’s comments “represent the beliefs of the older guard,” citing growing support for LGBT equality among young Evangelicals. As Costello pointed out, Vines’ comments are in line with polling that finds increased support among faith groups for LGBT equality.

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Support for Gay Marriage Grows Among Young US Evangelicals

“Many younger evangelicals don’t know what to think theologically on this issue in terms of ‘Is same-sex marriage sinful?’,” said Matthew Vines, author of God and the Gay Christian. ”But they are willing to say, ‘In a pluralistic society, I don’t want to be infringing the rights of another group of people, whether I agree with them or not.’”

“There are significant institutional barriers to enduring change within evangelical churches,” Vines said. “This conversation is just getting started in the mainstream of the evangelical world and it will continue, but I think it will take at least a decade to really effect a sweeping shift throughout American evangelicalism and even then there will be some more-conservative churches that are still holding out.”

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‘God and the Gay Christian’ author says Apostle Paul didn’t condemn gay marriage

“I don’t want to undermine Paul, that’s not the approach to scripture I was raised with,” Vines said. “Respecting the Bible’s authority in its entirety has tremendous value for how Christians understand our faith. It’s consistent with core principles that we find in scripture. It’s about empowering Christians from conservative churches to have those conversations.”

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National LGBTQ Task Force conference examines religion, faith

“Vines, who grew up in a conservative church in Wichita, Kan., argues in his ‘God and the Gay Christian’ that as he reads the Bible, scriptures support same-sex relationships…. He said he’s found a silent minority of conservative Christians who question anti-gay rhetoric. He believes he can inspire more to speak out if they think about young people they know who are hiding their sexuality out of fear of being ostracized.”

“‘We have to be willing to risk our own sense of comfort, our own status for people in great need, people who are suffering,’ Vines said.”

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Inside the Evangelical Fight Over Gay Marriage

The generational shift is easy to spot elsewhere. Consider the Reformation Project, a Wichita, Kans.–based effort by 24-year-old gay evangelical activist Matthew Vines to raise up LGBT-affirming voices in every evangelical church in the country. To reach that goal, he is training reformers in batches of 40 to 50 at regional leadership workshops who can go back to their home churches and serve as advocates for LGBT inclusion. The Reformation Project has staffers in three states, representatives in 25 more and plans for a presence in all 50 states by 2018.

“The LGBT issue has been one of the most obvious forces behind the increasing loss of regard for Christianity in American culture at large,” Vines says. “It’s like slavery and anti-Semitism, where the tradition got it totally wrong. It’s one of the church’s profound moral failures.”

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VIDEO: Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

It looked like a typical evangelical service, except for the same-sex couples in pews: a man leaning his head on another man’s shoulder, a woman with her arm around her female partner.

They were among the several hundred gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians who recently gathered at the National City Christian Church in Washington for a meeting of The Reformation Project.

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Gay debate challenges traditional definitions of ‘evangelical’

Yet rank-and-file believers increasingly know — and like — gay people who do not seem bound for eternal torment in hell. Vines is showing what can happen when a compassionate, winsome evangelical comes along with the aim of helping Christians realize that they do not have to choose between affirming the authority of Scripture and affirming their gay friends and loved ones.

In a series of public appearances and in his recent book, “God and the Gay Christian,” Vines articulates a biblical case for support of same-sex relationships. The handful of Bible verses that mention same-sex sexual activity is familiar terrain to both affirming and traditionalist Christians, but Vines is sensitive to the concerns of evangelicals who claim to prefer literal interpretations and view biblical scholarship with suspicion.

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Southern Baptists, Gay Community Break Bread at Conference

Mr. Mohler this week met with Matthew Vines, an openly gay Christian author who argues the Bible doesn’t prohibit lifelong same-sex marriage. Mr. Mohler wrote a response to Mr. Vines’ book, “God and the Gay Christian.”

“It was a gracious, honest conversation. I think all evangelical Christians are having to learn anew how to discuss these issues,” Mr. Mohler said. The pair agreed to keep in touch over email, and alert each other if one ever felt wrongly portrayed by the other.

“This was an amazing event,” said Mr. Vines. “Not for the public sessions but for the private meetings. It’s not like anyone is suddenly pro-gay,” said Mr. Vines. But, he added, “it feels like a new era.”

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Evangelical conference struggles with response to gay marriage

Matthew Vines, author of “God and the Gay Christian,” has drawn more than 800,000 views on YouTube for his lecture challenging the theology that drives evangelical opposition to same-gender relationships. He said he was encouraged that some speakers have been “approaching the conversation with more respect and sensitivity than has often been the case in the past.” But he said their stand on gay relationships still “causes serious harm to LGBT people.”

Vines met privately with Mohler, who had written an e-book response to Vines, titled “God and the Gay Christian?” Both men said the meeting was a cordial discussion of Scripture and they planned to stay in touch. Separately, about two dozen Christian advocates for gay acceptance and evangelical leaders who participated in the conference also met privately Monday night. Participants agreed they would not comment afterward.

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Author says the Bible does not condemn same-sex relationships

Matthew Vines’ career as an advocate for gay rights began as an appeal to his evangelical Christian parents to accept him for who he is….

Vines has, in essence, written the book he wishes had existed when he began the discussion with his father. He said popular arguments reconciling Christianity with same sex relationships tend to dismiss strict interpretations of scripture, while the arguments that do arise from strict interpretations were buried in obscure Biblical scholarship.

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VIDEO: Interview on MSNBC’s ‘The Cycle’

He’s a 24-year-old gay evangelical Christian who’s revolutionizing the way same-sex relationships are viewed in the church. How’s he doing it? Well, by pointing straight to the Bible. He says belief in God’s Word and being gay are not mutually exclusive, and his message is resonating. His lecture videos have gone viral, one nearing one million hits so far. His Reformation Project is spreading his gospel, with influential evangelical pastors from around the country making the Bible-based case for LGBT inclusion, and now he’s written a very powerful new book about his own personal story.

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The Matthew Vines interview on ‘God and the Gay Christian’

At 24, Matthew Vines is organizing a tough, smart, highly trained force of young evangelicals who are prepared to go toe-to-toe with traditionalist Christians on the issue of whether the Bible allows LGBT inclusion. Through videos, public talks, his new book and a series of national conferences, Vines is determined to martial wave after wave of young men and women, equipped with enough biblical scholarship to crack through the evangelical front still holding that the Bible flat-out condemns homosexuality.

We recommend a lot of inspiring books at ReadTheSpirit online magazine, but this particular volume is different. This one is going to be a classic—a milestone at this historic turning point when more and more American churches are welcoming gay and lesbian men, women and their families.

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Evangelicals Are Changing Their Minds on Gay Marriage

But now, pro-gay rights evangelicals want to prove that supporting gay relationships doesn’t contradict the authority of scripture. That’s the idea behind Matthew Vines’ Reformation Project, whose second conference is expected to draw as many as 900 people to Washington, D.C., this fall. Vines, now 24, came up with the idea for the project after taking a leave of absence from his studies Harvard University to study the Bible and Christian history, all in an effort to convince fellow evangelicals, including his own parents in Wichita, that they should embrace gay people like him.

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A Christian family, a gay son – and a Wichita father’s change of heart

The worst day of Monte Vines’ life, or so he thought, was Jan. 2, 2010, when his son Matthew told him he was gay. Matthew, now 24, has told about that day at length, in a book published in April, “God and the Gay Christian.” He wrote about how his Dad was an elder. How his Dad warned that Biblical verses forbade gay relationships. How his Dad urged therapy. And how he and his father agreed to jointly study the Bible, revered in the Vines household as a bedrock of their faith.

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The Future Of The Gay Rights Movement Is Evangelical

There is no intellectual straining in Vines’ book; its arguments are simply explained and it is geared almost entirely to a readership that accepts basic evangelical notions about the Bible’s authority and divinely inspired literal truth. I’ve always had a bit of a defensive crouch about the obvious condemnation of some same-sex acts in the Bible, but because my own faith is not built on literalism or entirely on Biblical authority, I didn’t need to defang them. But Vines and Brownson do just that convincingly and then move on to the broader Christian message of the virtue of a commitment to another person, of self-giving to another in love and marriage, in ways that are finally able to include gay people in the broader evangelical community. I won’t read those passages in the Bible the same way again.

People talk about the cutting edge of gay activism, but here is another cutting edge – of gay scholarship in a zone where few openly gay people have felt emboldened to tread. These books may do to the next evangelical generation what John Boswell’s Christianity, Homosexuality and Social Tolerance did to mine. I cannot recommend it – or this fearlessly logical young spirit – highly enough.

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Christianity’s new look on gays

Could there be a future where most American Christians support same-sex relationships? If so, it will be due to the emergence of conservative Christians who say orthodox believers can support life-long, monogamous gay relationships without undermining their commitment to biblical authority.

In evangelical gay Christian Matthew Vines’ new book, God and the Gay Christian, he examines the six passages on same-sex behavior and argues that they do not address today’s long-term gay relationships.

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Review of God and the Gay Christian

This book is absolute dynamite. It is quite possibly the most important book I have encountered on this subject. A lot has been written, but most of it has either been too technical, or has simply taken a negative view of same-sex relations that would only be found convincing by those already predisposed to accept that view, or has presupposed a liberal approach to the Bible which might be well and good for me, but is never going to connect with, much less convince, conservative Christians.

That is why Vines’ book is so important. It is written by a conservative Christian who is gay. It accepts the authority of Scripture. And it makes a convincing case within that framework that what the Bible says does not provide a basis for disapproving of same-sex marriage. Although Vines is not a scholar, by drawing on scholarship and carefully investigating the subject, he comes up with interpretations of the relevant Biblical texts, against the backdrop of their cultural setting, that are thoroughly persuasive.

It is a remarkable achievement. I can well imagine that a century from now, people may look back to this book as the one that decisively turned the tide regarding conservative Christians views on homosexuality.

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God and the Gay Christian: An Interview with Matthew Vines

“What I argue about sexual orientation in the book is that it’s a core part of who we are as relational beings. We, as human beings, are relational people. We have relational needs—which is not to say everyone must be sexually fulfilled, but there’s a big difference between someone pursuing celibacy as a calling as a way to serve God and telling a whole group of people that every single desire they experience for intimate sexual bonding with another person is disordered, shameful and wrong and you must renounce them all. That corrodes people’s ability to be in relationship with others and with God.

“Ultimately, it is corrosive to people’s image-bearing capabilities—it makes us less relational in really important ways. If that position is producing those results then that position is in the direction of sin, not righteousness, because it is making people less like God. The consequences of this position harm people and taint the image of God within them, so even if you’re sincere and loving and not feeling any hatred, it’s still producing and multiplying sin.”

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Counterattacking the Gay Evangelical

Mohler, as well as several of his Southern Baptist friends—Denny Burk, Heath Lambert included—seem terrified of this book, calling it “exceedingly dangerous.” Denny Burk says that Vines’s book offers “nothing new,” that the author simply “popularized revisionist interpretations of scripture.” Vines would likely agree. He himself admits early on in the book’s introduction that the opinions aren’t new, that the majority of his arguments have been presented before by other more theologically acclaimed authors and scholars. But those books were long, heady, and difficult to read. Burk says the true lure of Vines’s title is the fact that he wraps his opinions inside a “very compelling personal narrative.”

Which is one of the bigger reasons Mohler & friends don’t want evangelicals to read God and the Gay Christian. Because Vines’s book, unlike most of the titles that have made similar arguments over the years, offers the non-traditional biblical theory using simple language, personality and thoughtful prose. In other words, it’s a good read. And easy to understand.

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God and gays: A conversation with Albert Mohler and Matthew Vines

“My main request to non-affirming Christians is simply to listen. If you are straight and don’t have close relationships with many gay Christians, it isn’t appropriate to respond to this conversation with knee-jerk outrage and condemnation. I may be young, but this issue affects my life far more intimately than it affects the lives of straight Christians, and I think it is important for straight people in particular to be open to listening and learning. We won’t all agree in the near future, but if we turn down the volume and respect and value one another’s faith, the church will be able to offer a more Christ-like witness because of it.”

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Wichita author who is gay, conservative and Christian seeks to start a conversation

“My message isn’t that change is inevitable, because it’s not,” Vines said. “My message is that change is possible. I think it’s only really possible with the right biblical approach to arguments. That’s what the book is all about. But once you have that, it’s going to take a tremendous amount of persistence and effort and determination and grit for years to make that happen. But I’m convinced that it’s possible.”

Vines wants churches to transcend politics.

“I want the Christian church to be an effective, authentic witness of God’s love to the world,” he said. “That’s what most Christians want, too.”

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Gay Christians? New book rattles, angers American evangelicals

“I think the backlash has just begun,” Vines tells LGBTQ Nation. “For conservative Christians who base their opposition to LGBT equality on Scripture, it can be unnerving to have their biblical interpretation challenged and undermined by other conservative Christians.”

“Most non-affirming evangelicals aren’t prepared to have this conversation about Scripture yet, so I think a fair amount of bluster will precede actual, widespread engagement with the arguments I’m putting forward,” he says. “But at some point, the bluster will clearly fail, and even the most determined opponents will have to engage with these arguments,” adds Vines.

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God and the Gay Christian

Matthew’s book is likely to become the biggest, most talked about, Christian book of the year – and could help shatter misperceptions about the Bible’s characterizations of same-sex relationships as a sin against God. It will also, without a doubt, place this young man at the center of a raging cultural debate in America. In fact, he is stepping squarely into a debate that, if not addressed adequately among members of his faith, will radically alter Christianity’s place in America.

But he is prepared for the coming storm – as prepared as anyone can be for such a divisive topic. And if he is successful, he may just forever change the way in which gay Christians are accepted and loved – just as they are – in churches in America.

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Matthew Vines Announces ‘God and the Gay Christian;’ Claims Book Will ‘Radically Change’ Talk on Being Gay in Church

Matthew Vines has announced the release of his first book, titled God and the Gay Christian, which comes less than two years after he delivered a dissertation that he claimed “dismantle[d] every Bible-based argument against homosexuality.”

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Can the evangelical church embrace gay couples?

Vines, who took a leave of absence as an undergraduate at Harvard University in 2010, became an online sensation when he posted a video to YouTube of an hourlong presentation on the Bible and homosexuality he made to his home church in Wichita in 2012. In the video, Vines tackled the “clobber passages” one by one, building to the argument that being gay is not a sin.

Vines, who is gay and calls himself theologically conservative, now heads an organization called the Reformation Project, whose goal is to change the church from within the umbrella of evangelical theology—primarily by training interested Christians to make theologically sound arguments to their peers and church leaders. His book “God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships,” will be published by a Random House imprint in May.

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Christian hopes to reform churches on homosexuality

A Kansas man whose online lecture about the Bible and same-sex relationships gained considerable attention has gathered about 50 Christians from around the country to delve into his belief that the Scriptures do not condemn homosexuality as a sexual orientation.

“This conference is important because it really represents the next frontier of the LGBT movement, which is working to change the minds of conservative Christians about same-sex relationships,” Vines said. “Because I’m a gay Christian who grew up in a conservative church and still have a lot of friends and family in conservative churches, I’m trying to empower people to be able to stay in their churches that are not yet supportive.”

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Matthew Vines

While the movement for gay and lesbian rights has achieved important advances in recent years, it still faces enormous challenges. The work that Matthew and several Haas, Jr. Fund grantees are doing to advance the cause of LGBT equality in faith communities will be critical to overcoming these challenges and securing broad and lasting gains for gay and lesbian people across the country.

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The Reformation Project: Training Christians to Eradicate Homophobia From the Church

This month, I am launching The Reformation Project. It is a nonprofit organization designed to connect, train and empower LGBT Christians and their allies to change their churches on this issue from within. This fall, we will host our first leadership conference for 50 straight, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians who are committed to reform. From Sept. 18 to 21 at Asbury United Methodist Church in Kansas City, Kan., we will put them through a Bible boot camp.

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Matthew Vines: Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

Matthew Vines is a 22-year-old gay Christian who believes being gay is not a sin. He came to that conclusion after two years of studying Scripture and the works of dozens of biblical scholars. The Harvard University student, currently on leave of absence, is now trying to win over fellow believers not just with an emotional testimony but with what he is presenting as biblically solid arguments.

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Reforming the Gay Christian Debate

“What does the Bible say about loving, same-sex relationships?” Nothing. Not a thing. And in that absence of Biblical direction of support for or condemnation of these relationships, Christians need to follow the general principles of the Bible: love, justice and kindness. This was the point Matthew Vines wanted to emphasize at his recent presentation at Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan.

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Can you be Christian and gay? (44:00 – 50:02)

For many people, the two are totally incompatible. That was certainly what 22 year-old Matthew Vines was taught. After coming out, he decided an emotional appeal wouldn’t be enough, so Matthew took some time out from Harvard to equip himself with every bit of theological research to back up his case. The result? A YouTube video that’s now been seen nearly 400,000 times.

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Turned Away, He Turned to the Bible

One year after Matthew Vines was forced to leave the Wichita, Kan., church he had attended since birth — not because he is gay, but because he tried to convince people there was nothing wrong with that — he was sitting facing a crowd of 235 Christians, most of them gay or lesbian, at the Marble Collegiate Church on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

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I’m Not Saying You’re Homophobic; I’m Just Saying You’re Homophobic

For me, the final nail in the “you’re being homophobic coffin” is this video from Matthew Vines. It is a must watch. Yes, it is an hour long. Yes, it is just a guy giving a lecture — but it is so much more than that. It is brilliant. It is well-researched. It is precisely presented. It is emotional. It is personal. Everyone needs to watch this.

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Gay Christian’s video draws praise, scorn

In the video, the young man with the face of an altar boy speaks with quiet conviction for 67 minutes, looking a church congregation in the eye, glancing only occasionally at his notes, making his case that when it comes to homosexuality and the Bible, most people have it all wrong. The Bible, he contends, doesn’t say homosexuality is a sin, nor does it condemn loving gay relationships. Made March 8 at College Hill United Methodist Church in Wichita, the video has been viewed more than 135,000 times on YouTube and drawn an international outpouring of praise and condemnation for the speaker.

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Don’t Blame the Bible

Vines’ speech is a masterwork of scriptural exegesis and a marvel of patient logic, slicing and dicing with surgical precision the claim that homophobia is God ordained… It is fascinating stuff, and there is not nearly enough space here to do it justice, but the salient point is this: Matthew Vines is not some godless heathen lobbing bombs at Christianity from outside its walls. No, he lives inside Christianity’s walls, still holds the faith in which he was raised. So this is not an outsider’s attack. It is an insider’s plea.

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The Gay Debate: The Bible and Homosexuality

Vines’ argument and his insights are highly relevant to gay Christians, to their families, to Christians who point to the bible to justify their bigotry and the pain they inflict on LGBT people (including their own LGBT children), and to anyone who happens to live in a country that is majority Christian… Watch this video: Vines is brilliant.

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The Book of Matthew

In the long run, Vines’s speech will probably create far more change on the ground than unconvincing apologetics or anti-Christian diatribes…. [H]is work serves as a beacon to those who seek a popular discourse on religion that is grounded in erudition, thoughtfulness, and dignity.

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The Bible and Homosexuality, a Biblical presentation with Matthew Vines

You cannot help but hear the scholarship with which he addresses the subject. Matthew not only educates the listener, he does so in a humble tone that will subtly cross even the most firmly constructed boundaries… This video is of such superior excellence in both scholarship and tone, it is now the resource to which I will direct Christian parents and friends of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

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