Anti-gay drive divides Christians

A Christian campaign to persuade gay people to renounce their sexuality has caused a surge of resignations from the Finnish Lutheran Church and been described as a possible revenge attack against religious liberals. Political scientist Sari Roman-Lagerspetz said that the crusade by conservative Christian magazine Nuotta, following which thousands of people have turned their back on the church, could be a reaction to a decision last year to allow prayers for gay and lesbian couples in church.

“I have been [wondering] if they want to take revenge against the church, for liberal-minded people to leave the church and to turn against Christianity,” Roman-Lagerspetz said in a report by Helsingin Sanomat. “There is something of an air of revenge against this decision.”

Around 500 people a day have submitted resignations from the Finnish Evangelical Church via website Eroakirkosta.fi since the magazine drive was launched last week. This compares to the usual rate of around 50 resignations a day.

The last time such an exodus was seen in Finland was in autumn last year following a televised debate about gay issues featuring Christian Democratic Party MP Paivi Rasanen. More than 40,000 people said they left the church after this because of Rasanen’s strong views against homosexuality.

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