Thousands of Filipinos taking part in Marikina City’s annual pride parade were pleasantly surprised by a group of Christians holding signs apologizing for ways the religion had hurt the LGBTQ community.
“My heart really felt light upon seeing them,” 19-year-old parade attendee Jamilah Salvador told CBS News. “I stopped when I saw them and read all of their messages and immediately felt goosebumps all over my body, then my tears started to build up.”
I literally cried when I saw this kanina. Imagine living in a society with nothing but love and respect for each other. ? #RiseUpTogether pic.twitter.com/rL4rPaWHel
— Jamilah Salvador (@JAMBIyutiful) June 30, 2018
The main banners held by members of the Church of Freedom in Christ Ministries (FICM), an Evangelical and Pentecostal church in Makati, Philippines, listed all the ways “Christians harmed the LGBT community,” including statements, such as “I’ve rejected and hurt your family in the name of ‘family values.’”
Other signs had messages like, “God loves you, so do we,” and “I used to be a Bible-banging homophobe Sorry!!”
“People absolutely loved” the group’s display, said Salvador. Some “started bursting into tears upon seeing the signs. Some hugged and talked to these Christians. Some took photos, like what I did, and others just stood there in awe.”
Photos shared by the teen quickly went viral on Twitter.
i cried so hard #RiseUpTogether pic.twitter.com/By0YonuARE
— ???? (@merillravago) June 30, 2018
FICM’s pastor, Val Paminiani, said that he has been going to Pride parades for around four years as a part of the organization’s “I’m Sorry” campaign.
Paminiani told BuzzFeed News, “We are apologizing for the way Christians have hurt the LGBT community, especially by using the Bible in condemning and judging them.”
The pastor continued that, “I used to believe that God condemns homosexuals, but when I studied the Scriptures, especially the ones that we call ‘clobber Scriptures’ that are being cherry-picked from the Bible to condemn LGBT people, I realized that there’s a lot to discover, including the truth that God is not against anyone. God does not discriminate against people based on gender.”
“We pray that more and more Christians will act, speak, and love the LGBT people like Jesus would,” he said.