Orlando church accused of heresy for LGBT outreach after Pulse shootings

Orlando church lgbt forum

Rev. Joel Hunter (l) is being criticized for joining with Matthew Vines (r) in a discussion about being more supportive of LGBTQ people. Facebook Screenshot

Liberty Counsel, the anti-LGBTQ religious right group arguably best known for defending Kentucky clerk Kim Davis in her fight to refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, has gone on the attack against an Orlando church for reaching out to the LGBTQ community ahead of the anniversary of the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub.

Northland, A Church Distributed, held a public forum last month with The Reformation Project, a group headed up by a gay Christian man named Matthew Vines. It is dedicated to bringing churches around to becoming LGBTQ-affirming.

The evangelical church’s pastor, Rev. Joel Hunter said the Pulse nightclub shooting forced him to face some difficult questions.

“Why wasn’t I aware how vulnerable this community is?” he told the Orlando Sentinel he recalled wondering after the massacre.

On the morning of the attack, Hunter said he received an email from one of his congregants, a first responder asking for prayers.

While the church has no plan of changing its teaching that gay relationships are against God’s plan, Hunter explained that he hoped the forum would “increase understanding.”

“We think that’s necessary for the healing of our community,” he added.

The Liberty Counsel has now taken to smearing the church, putting out a press release with the headline, “LGBT Heresy Infiltrates Orlando Northland Community Church.”

Related: Liberty Counsel continues to attack lesbian teacher cleared of any wrongdoing 

The release called the forum an attempt to “‘affirm’ LGBTQ by distorting the Bible and changing church doctrine.”

“One would have to be blind or complicit to allow The Reformation Project to put on an LGBTQ propaganda presentation in church,” said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel and Davis’ personal lawyer. “The name and mission of the organization declare its purpose is to reform church teaching on sexual orientation and gender identity. The mission has nothing to do with dialogue but rather has everything to do with confusing Christians and distorting biblical and church teachings on human sexuality. As the leader of this influential church, Joel Hunter knowingly provided a platform to Matthew Vines and The Reformation Project to promote an overt LGBTQ agenda designed to confuse people and to ‘reform church teaching on sexual orientation and gender identity.’”

Liberty Counsel has been deemed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its activism against civil rights.

The one year anniversary of the Pulse shooting in Orlando is on June 12.

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