Members of gay group arrested
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Members of a gay rights group were arrested Monday after staging a sit-in at a Baptist seminary whose president is drawing criticism for his comments on prenatal treatments that would influence a child’s sexual orientation.The group, Soulforce, attempted to meet with the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s president, the Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., an influential evangelical leader.Twelve were charged with criminal trespassing – a misdemeanor – and booked into jail, Louisville police said.The sit-in in front of Mohler’s office lasted about two hours, said Jarrett Lucas, a co-director of a Soulforce tour that is visiting Christian colleges.The group did not contact officials at the private campus in advance of the visit, said Lawrence Smith, the seminary’s vice president of communications. Smith said a small group left when they were asked by police to leave, but the others stayed.”As far as I could tell they were not unruly,” Smith said. “It’s my understanding that they did not resist arrest, but they refused to leave the campus when they were asked to leave.”An Associated Press reporter was escorted off the campus.Lucas said the 12 who were arrested were expected to be released by the end of the day.Smith said Mohler was not on the campus during the demonstration.Other members of Soulforce were joined by the Fairness Campaign, a Louisville gay rights group, at a protest later Monday on a sidewalk off campus. About a dozen people carried signs and sang during the two-hour demonstration.Mohler irked gay-rights supporters by asserting in a recent article that homosexuality would remain a sin even if it were biologically based, and by his support for a hypothetical medical treatment that could switch an unborn gay baby’s sexual orientation.Mohler has said he wrote the article “intending to start a conversation.” Lucas said group members wanted Mohler to rescind his comments and publicly apologize.”Some of us were raised in a southern Baptist tradition, so for him to deny his own constituents simply a conversation – we wanted to go have him hear our voice – and we were denied that,” Lucas said.Soulforce, a nonprofit organization based in Lynchburg, Va., has organized several national tours to religious and military colleges to protest their attitudes about homosexuality. Members also were arrested earlier this month during demonstrations at Oklahoma Baptist University.