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Christians gather in Kansas to discuss homosexuality (with Matthew Vines video)

BY MARIA SUDEKUM, ASSOCIATED PRESS

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. -- A Kansas man whose online lecture about the Bible and same-sex relationships gained considerable attention has gathered about 50 Christians from around the country to delve into his belief that the Scriptures do not condemn homosexuality as a sexual orientation.

Matthew Vines, of Wichita, grew up attending a conservative evangelical Presbyterian church in the city and relies heavily on intensive study of the Bible for his presentations. He said liberal and moderate Christian churches have adopted more gay-friendly stances, but conservative churches remain steadfast in their opposition to homosexuality.

The 23-year-old Vines wants to bring change with his message that the Bible doesn't actually say same-sex orientation is a sin or condemn loving gay relationships. Out of 100 applicants, Vines selected 50 people with ties to conservative churches to participate in his three-day conference, which started Wednesday in Prairie Village and ends Saturday.

"This conference is important because it really represents the next frontier of the LGBT movement, which is working to change the minds of conservative Christians about same-sex relationships," Vines said. "Because I'm a gay Christian who grew up in a conservative church and still have a lot of friends and family in conservative churches, I'm trying to empower people to be able to stay in their churches that are not yet supportive."

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