UPDATE: Since this story was published, First Free has removed this event from their website and it has been canceled.
In a statement posted to First Free’s Facebook page around 9:30 pm, Sunday, Senior Pastor Shane Holden wrote:
“One of the pastors on our staff wanted to hold an event to help educate Christians on how to better understand and love the LGBTQIA community. As some of you may know, this is a much needed conversation in the evangelical church — so I told him I was all for it. He gave me a book that he had read by Glenn Stanton and asked me to look it over. He thought he might be a good fit for the event. I did look it over, but I didn’t read it thoroughly. The pastor on my staff did, however, and he sincerely felt this guy was a good fit. I told him I trusted him, and he scheduled it. It is ultimately my fault, as I should have done a much better job vetting this guy. I have already communicated with the pastor who scheduled him, and he is just as mortified as I am to see the quotes many of you have sent me. He is already in the process of cancelling this event. He said there was nothing in the book he read that reflected comments or attitudes like that. The whole purpose of the event was to help the evangelical church better love the LGBTQIA community. It is very apparent we would not be loving you well if we brought this man in to speak — so we will not. Please forgive me (and First Free Church) if this caused anyone any pain or confusion. That was the last thing we intended. If you have any further questions please just direct them to me, and I will do my best to answer.“
A man who in 2014 called the children of same-sex couples “human guinea pigs” will speak at the First Free Church in Onalaska on July 25 during an event called “Loving my LGBT Neighbor.”
Speaking about girls raised by lesbian mothers, Stanton once said: “We already know that girls who grow up without fathers are more likely to be sexually adventurous, and it has a lot to do with being fatherless…Two lesbians can be the most loving moms in the world, but they can’t give a girl the kind of positive attention and other-gendered affirmation she needs from a dad.”
Perhaps as a sign that fundamentalist Christians have lost the argument on LGBTQ rights among the vast majority of Americans, Stanton tried to signal that’s he moving with the times by releasing the book Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor: Being Friends in Grace and Truth in 2014.
Two years after the release of that book, Stanton thought it appropriate to claim that Satan is behind trans acceptance.
“When Satan gets us to go along with the lie that male and female are only things we feel about ourselves and nothing more, he well knows what he’s accomplishing. When he deceives an individual to join in on the lie, he knows what he’s gained,” Stanton wrote in a 2016 blog post for the National Catholic Register.
Focus on the Family has been a right wing fundraising juggernaut, raising hundreds of millions of dollars over the years, a significant portion of which was wasted trying to beat back marriage equality in the U.S.
Focus on the Family’s website also states: “As an evangelical Christian ministry committed to the authority of Scripture as the inspired Word of God, Focus on the Family believes that sex is given by God as an expression of love to be shared and enjoyed exclusively between a husband and wife. Further, we are convinced that the Bible leaves no room whatsoever for confusion or ambiguity where homosexual behavior is concerned. The Scripture both explicitly and implicitly regards it as falling outside of God’s intention in creating man and woman as sexual beings who bear His image as male and female.”
Stanton’s event at First Free Church in Onalaska is Saturday, July 25 from 9 am to 11:30 am. The announcement for the event states: “Ever feel like we’re just fumbling through the LGBT conversation, never really getting the balance right between loving others with real grace while also not compromising on scriptural truth? We all do…We don’t have to fumble. While the questions are hard, there are indeed great answers. That’s what this session is about.”
More details here.
By Eric Timmons. Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Top photo credit: A protest against Focus on the Family’s “Stand for the Family” event at the Xcel Energy Center, planned by OutFront Minnesota, in 2006 by Tony Webster/CC BY 2.0.