A protest was staged outside a Florida Baptist church last week as it hosted a pro-family summit attended by some of the nation's most prominent conservative Christian leaders.
Signs reading "God Loves Me as I Am" and "Queerly Divine and Doing Fine" were seen outside of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Fla., Thursday afternoon, according to the St. Petersburg Times.
About 75 gay rights activists called the Family Impact Summit a "hate summit" that encourages bigotry with its opposition to gay "marriage" and for mobilizing Christians to petition against the practice.
Meanwhile, a dozen Bell Shoals church members stood in front of the church to pray for the protestors and explain that their opposition to gay "marriage" is nothing personal.
"We love these people," said, the Rev. Forrest Pollock, pastor of Bell Shoals, according to The Tampa Tribune. "I think they'll discover that this is a church that loves them and wants to pray for them."
"I want them to know we don't hate them," said church member Kim Jackson, according to the Times. But she believes that gays are in danger of damnation.
"If my child were playing in the street," she said, "I would still have to rescue that child, even though he's having the time of his life."
The number of protestors outside of the Sept. 20-22 summit was not much less than the some 130 summit attendants – a number that was about half of what was hoped for.
The summit, which aimed to lay the groundwork for a new Florida activist network, attracted prominent national Christian leaders such as Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council; Gary Bauer, founder of American Values; Dr. Richard Land, president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; Bishop Harry Jackson, founder and chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition; and Tom Minnery, senior vice president of government and public policy at Focus on the Family.
Local political leaders and activists also attended the conservative gathering including former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris and Bobby Schindler, the brother of the late Terri Schiavo.
The first day of the summit included sessions ranging from "Life Issues" to "The Homosexual Agenda" to "What Every Christian Should Know about Islam," according to the St. Petersburg Times.
Leslee Unruh from the National Abstinence Clearinghouse shared about her group's new and successful way to ban abortion in South Dakota by framing the debate as a feminist issue.
"We're not saying 'abortion is wrong,'" she said, according to the Times. "We're taking women by the hand and saying 'let us help you.' The days of standing by abortion clinics with pictures of dead babies, that's over."
Meanwhile, Nancy Heche – mother of actress Anne Heche who was involved in a very public homosexual relationship – counseled a man to not confront his gay relative during a "Homosexuality and Ministry" panel. Instead, she advised him to bless and pray for his kin.
Topics at the three-day summit included religious freedom, life issues, racial reconciliation, Christian citizenship, education, community decency, homosexual agenda, and homosexuality and ministry.