Despite several massive public protests — including threats of death, rape and arson — a Michigan pastor said an ongoing workshop to help homosexuals convert to a straight lifestyle would remain in place.
Pastor Jeremy Schossau told PRB News that his church has not abandoned its “Unashamed Identity Workshop,” despite misleading news reports that it has closed.
“Nothing has been cancelled, nothing,” he said. “We are continuing all of our ministries and outreach programs. We won’t back down on any of that.”
Metro City Church in Riverview organized the workshop in January to help its female youth grapple with the growing debate and struggle over sexual identity and to offer ministry to those girls, ages 12 -16, who want to abandon the “Trans – Bi – Gay – or other” lifestyle.
But the announcement of the workshop, which was posted to the church’s Facebook page, was met with outrage by local homosexual rights activists, who not only arranged to stage several protests outside the church, but also gathered signatures in an attempt to have the state attorney general investigate the church for fraud.
“There were demonstrations here for about six weeks,” Schossau said. “The first few days were brutal, it was absolutely brutal online too. Outside the church you had people waving signs, some people dressed up as drag queens, others shouting, all of that.”
Agitators threatened church leaders, family members and even children, calling for rape attacks, arson, as well as lewd comments that would be inappropriate to reprint.
Last March, a Christian bridal shop was forced to close in Bloomsburg, PA after it received similar threats of death, rape and arson. In the bridal shop case, homosexual activists were upset over the store’s opposition to same-sex marriages.
“We had to take down all our social media,” Schossau said in response to his situation at Metro City Church.
Of greatest concern was the possibility that the state attorney general, Bill Schuette, would launch a fraud investigation into the church, which Schossau believed would be a violation of the First Amendment, which protects religious freedom.
The church responded by gathering over 20,000 signatures from pastors around the country opposing any effort by the state to conduct such an investigation.
The office of Attorney General Bill Schuette assured church leaders, which was also confirmed by PRB News, that no such investigation would be taking place.
In February, one protest at the Metro City Church drew nearly 300 demonstrators.
Homosexual activists in the area argued that they are born gay and that any attempt to “convert them into being straight” would amount to abuse and should be considered an attempt to perpetrate a fraud, since there is no way to guarantee success.
“They made an accusation about fraud,” Schossau said, “because we could not guarantee a result of turning gays away from homosexuality.”
To Schossau, this assertion was preposterous, since even certified professional therapists never guarantee a positive result. Weight Watchers, for example, never guarantees that every participant will achieve weight loss. Alcoholics Anonymous does not guarantee that no one will ever fall off the no-alcohol wagon.
But the controversy did cause the 2,000-member church to suffer a slight decrease in attendance, witnessing a drop of about 100 to 150 parishioners since the controversy began.
“Most who left indicated to us that they are simply afraid of the conflict,” Schossau said. “Demonstrations at a church naturally keep people away.
“There were others who indicated they had a family conflict over the church’s teaching on homosexuality, and a few admitted, they simply disagreed with our position themselves,” he added.
The agitators, Schosssau said, “made some of the most lewd comments imaginable. They made horrible accusations about us being child molesters. Others made threats like ‘wait till you see what we do to your children, your wife.’ There were more threats of rape, and some were about arson, that we’ll burn down your church. There were lots of threats.”
Metro City Church spokesperson Angie Olsen confirmed to PRB News that the Parkland Police made at least one arrest after following up on death threats to the church.
“The Parkland Police have been great for us, and they have made sure we are protected,” Olsen said. “We have definitely seen more of a police presence and they have been in touch. They made an arrest in one of those cases, and the last I heard was that there was a court case pending. We are very, very thankful for all they’ve done.”