A church facing threats from LGBT activists for offering counseling to sexually confused girls now faces allegations of performing an exorcism on a transgender boy.
Locals and LGBT activists sent messages to Metro City Church in Riverview, Mich., threatening physical violence against the pastor and church members over the church’s identity counseling course for sexually confused teenage girls, which they alleged to be forced conversion therapy. The lead pastor, Jeremy Schossau, refuted claims of forced conversion therapy, but local mother Kim Tooley alleged that members of the church prayed over her transgender son, Seth, and tried to cast a demon out of him, according to the Associated Press.
“My son had three adults laying hands on him — (he was) screaming so loud I heard from the other room — praying that God will deliver him from (the homosexuality) demon,” said Tooley. “A literal demon. My son thought he had a demon.”
Tooley, who attended the church from 2012 to 2014, said that given her experience, she does not believe the church’s claim that they don’t practice conversion therapy.
“Jeremy said that they’re not beating anybody over the head with the Bible, and I beg to differ,” Tooley told Detroit Free Press.
Schossau questioned the veracity of Tooley’s story, however, saying that while the church certainly practices prayer and that members of the church did pray over Seth, casting out “homosexuality demons” is not in their wheelhouse.
“Obviously, we encouraged them to pray! We are a church. That’s what we do,” Schossau said in a text message to DFP. “… I do not recall any specific words which we prayed. We are not what is typically referred to as a ‘Pentecostal’ church and typically do not use language like ‘homosexual demon.’ But I can tell you that we prayed.”
Schossau said that the church has received thousands of threatening messages via email and social media in which critics have threatened to burn the church down, assault church members,and kill him and go after his family.
“People have literally threatened to kill me and my family, to burn our house down, to burn our church down, to assault the people of our church and our staff,” Schossau said in a video response to the criticism.
Critics believe that Schossau’s offered course is a thinly veiled attempt to forcibly change girls’ sexual orientation with prayer and biblical lectures, but Schossau claimed that nothing could be further from the truth.
The course, according to Schossau, is offered to girls aged 12 to 16 within their church and the surrounding community who think that they may be bisexual, gay, or transgender, but are struggling to decide and want to talk to someone about the issue. Schossau said that those who run the course will not shame attendees or try to convert them but will facilitate conversations between the girls, their parents, and church members and will respect whatever choice they ultimately make.
The church’s website said the course is designed to “help your girl be unashamed of her true sexual identity given to her by God at birth through thoughtful, relevant and biblical counsel.” The church has since taken the course advertisement down.
“It is pure hypocrisy in the gay community for folks to think that you can have a choice to move from heterosexuality into homosexuality but not homosexuality into heterosexuality,” Schossau said.
“Why is it wrong for somebody to call us who is struggling and hurting and just looking for somebody to talk to?” Schossau added. “And if they move toward heterosexuality and we celebrate that, why is that wrong? It is no different.”
Shossau’s responses have not abated the onslaught of criticism.
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