Michigan pastor defends controversial LGBT program against critics

A pastor in Michigan has spoken out in defense of a controversial program for teen girls at his church which critics labeled as gay conversion therapy and said the activity involves conversation and not condemnation.

(REUTERS / Marko Djurica)A gay rights activist holds a rainbow flag while marching in downtown Belgrade. September 27, 2013.

A few weeks ago, Metro City Church said it would hold a workshop for teenage girls who are dealing with "thoughts that are trans – bi – gay or other." The announcement stirred uproar among critics who viewed it as gay conversion therapy, with some going as far as threatening physical harm to the Downriver church and to its pastor, WXYZ detailed.

"If people think conversion therapy as getting someone in a room, dragging somebody in a room, forcing a kid or an adult into a room and beating them over the head with a bible, or shaming them or guilting them, we want nothing to do with that," said Pastor Jeremy Schossau. "That is not what we're talking about in any way."

In addition, Pastor Schossau said it was the first time that he had encountered such "unbelievable vitriol" surrounding the identity workshop in his two decades of working with the church. He pointed out that there was no harm in allowing a kid to open up to an adult about his or her struggles, with the permission and presence of their parents.

The "Unashamed Identity Workshop," which will cost $200, is open to girls ages 12 to 16 and will be held at Metro City Church's Riverview campus. The church has since taken down the details of the controversial six-week program from its website, but some people still have concerns over it, the Detroit Metro Times reported.

The Metro Detroit Political Action Network is set to gather at the Riverview Campus this Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. EST to protest against the controversial LGBT program. However, the group clarified that their demonstration will be peaceful and that they will not resort to threats toward the church.