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UM Lesbian "pastor" Beth Stroud Challenges Christians Arrested in the "Philly 5"

Below are excerpts from this article:

Gay-rights activists say their struggle continues

Posted on Mon, May. 02, 2005

By Natalie Pompilio and Joel Bewley, Inquirer Staff Writers

Dozens of police officers were on hand during the "Gay Pioneers & 40 Heroes Tribute" ceremony on Independence Mall to watch for trouble between gay-rights supporters and antigay activists.

A group from Repent America, a conservative Christian group, engaged in a war of signs with counter-protesters. "Homosexuality is NOT a civil right -- it's a self-corrupting choice" and "Fornicators WILL NOT ENTER the Kingdom of Heaven," read some of the organization's placards.

Those on the other side countered with their own signs, some of which aimed to poke fun at those who literally follow the Bible's words: "God's love is for whosoever" and "Eating winged insects with four feet is an abomination."

When Repent America director Michael Marcavage attempted to address the crowd through a megaphone, he was often shouted down, sometimes by people who circled him while chanting, "Love, not hate."

Repent America member Arlene Elshinnawy, 73, of Collegeville, was one of 11 people arrested in October during Outfest, a gay-pride block party in Center City. She was jailed for almost a day, fed only what she called an inedible cheese sandwich, and generally inconvenienced, although the charges against her and others were later dropped.

"If you see somebody's house burning down, you try to warn them. It's not Christian if you don't let them know," she said. "They think we're hateful. That's not true."

Beth Stroud, a United Methodist minister from Germantown whose defrocking for her lesbian relationship was overturned by an appeals panel Friday, told the hundreds gathered there to find strength in God's love.

"Don't be afraid," said Stroud, who gave the benediction. "Love one another. You are not alone. You are God's beloved."


Contact staff writer Natalie Pompilio at 215-854-2813 or npompilio@phillynews.com.


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