Pro-LGBT church in Hattiesburg ready to fight over Religious Accommodations law

Pro-LGBT church in Hattiesburg ready to fight over Religious Accommodations law
Religious leaders from across the region gathered in Hattiesburg Sunday to protest Mississippi's Religious Accommodations law. (Photo source: WLOX)
Religious leaders from across the region gathered in Hattiesburg Sunday to protest Mississippi's Religious Accommodations law. (Photo source: WLOX)

HATTIESBURG, MS (WLOX) - At first glance, Joshua Generation looks like any typical community church. But the small, cramped space doesn't reflect the size of its congregation's anger against the Religious Liberty Accommodations act. And the pro-LGBT denomination in Hattiesburg is ready for a long battle.

"Doesn't matter how you believe. Doesn't matter which God you serve. Doesn't matter what faith you follow, love is the center of all religions," said Joshua Generation pastor, the Rev. Brandiilyne Mangum-Dear. "And this bill is the opposite of love."

The Metropolitan Community Churches was founded about 50 years ago in the face of what founders say was national persecution of sexual orientation and gender expression. Joshua Generation is the only MCC location in Mississippi.

Dear brought together leaders from across the region to unify the base.

"We know that Mississippi is better than this law," said the Rev. Nancy Wilson, global leader of MCC. "And we won't let the governor and other people tell us what Mississippians really believe and value in our hearts and minds."

The Rev. Lisa Heilig of Georgia fought a similar bill in Georgia and won. She has this advice.

"You know what, this bill might be here now," she said. "But, this is not the end. This is not the end."

Anne Carter, is a Baptist. But she's in full support of the cause.

"I've always said that if you can love, everything else is going to fall into place," she said. "The answer is to love."

It hit the transgender community equally hard.

"When this bill first passed, for the first time, in my life, I felt helpless," said Kaylee Bradshaw. "I felt afraid and I felt like I have no idea what I was going to do."

Rhonda Browning remembered an experience when she went to the zoo in Birmingham when she was 7 years old.

"I saw the public bathrooms," she said. "And they said men, women and colored. That was my first experience with segregation. This is the same thing."

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