More than two dozen LGBT people of faith were removed from a Nashville hotel Wednesday evening after disrupting Pastor Rick Warren's public worship ceremony at the National Religious Broadcasters' annual conference, Proclaim 16.
At least 25 protesters marched through the auditorium carrying signs that quoted Bible verses and read "Stop Killing Us" as Warren was speaking, and attempted to conduct a prayer in protest of the conference and the evangelical megachurch pastor's anti-LGBT stances.
“We as LGBT people occupy spaces in Christianity and we can praise and worship too,” said Sara Green, a student at Vanderbilt University’s Divinity School in a press release sent Wednesday by organizers. “First and foremost we are speaking out against the killing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the name of our faith."
Conference attendees reportedly shouted "Homosexuality is an abomination" and "They're not really praying," as the activists gathered to form a prayer circle in the lobby, according to that press release. Local police and hotel security then escorted the protesters off the hotel grounds.
— Eliel Cruz (@elielcruz) February 25, 2016
The direct action was organized by Know Your Neighbors, a collaboration between LGBT faith and social justice organization Soulforce and Political Research Associates with a mission of "stopping the global culture wars here at home," according to its website.
Demonstrators included students from Nashville's Vanderbilt Divity School and American Baptist College, and were aiming to "raise awareness about the LGBT people of faith in [NRB's] midst and to speak out against anti-LGBT animus fueled by religious rhetoric," according to the press release.
"It is important as a current student of theology to put theology in action,” said Rodriquez White, a student at American Baptist College involved in the demonstration. "This means challenging structures that claim the name of Christ yet in act in defiance of Christ teachings and principles."
Wednesday's protest was the latest action targeting the four-day conference, which Media Matters reports has a long history of extremist anti-LGBT, anti-Muslim, anti-choice, and racist rhetoric. Organizers with Know Your Neighbors earlier this month called on Facebook executive Katie Harbath to back out of her scheduled headlining speech during Monday's digital media summit. Activists launched a social media campaign demanding that #FBdropNRB, while more than 1,200 people signed a petition asking the social media giant to pull out of the fundamentalist gathering. Harbath ultimately did speak at the conference on Monday, while Facebook did not respond to requests for comment about the petition.