Saturday, December 7, 2013

EQUAL Prepares for Annual Protest at IHOP's OneThing Conference

Every December, the International House of Prayer (IHOP) hosts OneThing, a large-scale worship conference in Kansas City, MO.* However, one youth organization is taking IHOP to task for its messages about LGBTQ people.

Empowering Queer Activists and Leaders (EQUAL) is an LGBTQ youth organization that advocates for LGBTQ equality in the Kansas City area. Camp Kansas City reports that EQUAL is finalizing plans to protest at this year's OneThing conference, as it has done for several years. According to Camp Kansas City, EQUAL president Wick Thomas explained that the OneThing protest is intended to raise awareness of homophobic ministries and engage conference attendees on LGBTQ issues.

EQUAL's annual protest stems from IHOP's troubling stance on LGBTQ issues. Camp Kansas City states that IHOP has ties to Desert Stream Ministries, which promotes so-called conversion therapy intended to change participants' sexual orientation. Lou Engle, the founder of TheCall and a longtime supporter of IHOP, has a long history of homophobic comments. Several years ago, Engle made scathing comments about the "homosexual agenda" at a religious rally in Uganda, shortly before Ugandan parliament began consideration of a draconian anti-gay bill. LGBTQ rights groups such as Soulforce and Human Rights Campaign have publicly criticized Engle for his homophobic activism in Uganda. **

I applaud EQUAL for holding IHOP and Lou Engle accountable, and for working diligently toward LGBTQ equality. My hope is that EQUAL's demonstration at the 2012 OneThing gathering will open minds about LGBTQ issues and raise awareness of IHOP's history.

* Republic of Gilead has posted commentary on OneThing gatherings from 2010, 2011, and 2012.

**  For an in-depth look at the relationship between American evangelical leaders and the proposed "Kill the Gays" bill in Uganda, check out documentaries such as Missionaries of Hate and God Loves Uganda.

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