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Michigan Church Under Fire for Handling of Transgender Teen

Thursday Feb 8, 2018

A Michigan church under fire over a workshop likened to conversion therapy for LGBTQ youth is now being accused by a former church member of praying over her transgender son to release the "demon" from him.

Kim Tooley and her son Seth attended Metro City Church in Riverview from 2012 through 2014, the Detroit Free Press reported .

"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."

Lead pastor Jeremy Schossau questioned the accuracy of Tooley's account.

"Obviously, we encouraged them to pray! We are a church. That's what we do," Schossau said in a text message to the newspaper. "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."

Tooley's accusation comes amid the church's planned six-week workshop it said is for "healing" teenage LGBTQ girls.

"It doesn't have to be this way," said the workshop listing on the church's website. "With God's help there can be healing, wholeness and hope. Through thoughtful, relevant and biblical counsel we will help your girl be unashamed of her true sexual identity given to her by God by birth."

Opponents have compared the $200 workshops to conversion therapy, which is the practice of using psychology or spirituality to change an LGBTQ person's sexual orientation or identity. The method is outlawed in some states but not in Michigan, according to the Movement Advancement Project.

Tooley said protesters have asked the church to stop the workshops and undergo sensitivity training. She said Schossau declined both.

Schossau said the church has taken down the listing for safety reasons but will continue with the workshop. He said that while his church believes sexual orientation is a choice, he still welcomes members of the LGBTQ community to attend church.

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