Sometimes people ask writer Conrad Askland why he chose the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) as the church group in the musical Pray the Gay Away®. “As part of the PTGA story, I needed a church group that maintained the stance that “homosexuality is intrinsically sinful.’ This was important to me in order to tell a well-rounded story. Even though the story takes place in 1982, I wanted to find a church group that still maintains that same stance in 2019. When I found a list of churches with that stance and saw ‘Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod’ on the list, I started researching right away. I was raised in what LCMS might call the liberal branch of the Lutheran Church, the LCA, which is now part of the ELCA. My uncle was a LCMS pastor so I had some connection to begin with.”
“What many people don’t realize is that in developing this project, I didn’t just research the LGBTQ+ side of the issue, I’ve also spent an enormous amount of time researching LCMS beliefs. I didn’t want my representation of core church beliefs to be just parody, I wanted the moments where the beliefs are expressed accurately.”
“The other thing that may surprise many people, and I was very open with the cast about it, is that I actually think the LCMS arguments are very strong on paper. The wording and logic steps in their theology are very well thought out. Yes, this surprises most people that I feel that way. The problem to me, is that these beliefs that are put forward of ‘homosexuality is intrinsically sinful’ and the funneling of adolescents into conversion therapy, always under different and changing names, is a contributing factor to the increased rate of suicide with adolescents in the LGBTQ+ community. For me, no theological argument can justify that. That is my line in the sand as a human being. I fully realize that other people feel differently on this issue and that is exactly why I am doing the PTGA project.”
A former LCMS minister, Greg Eilers, has written a blog article about working with Conrad and the cast during rehearsals of the Pray the Gay Away play.
“Greg Eilers, a former Missouri Synod Lutheran minister who retired to address his gender dysphoria, now educates regarding transgender issues. In his memoir, “A Roller Coaster Through a Hurricane,” he details his transition to living as a female and the dramatic cause behind his returning to live as a male. His book is available at Amazon.”
Read the Greg Eilers article here:
As for the LCMS, they provided a good church setting because the LCMS has remained where it was in the 1980s. In the LCMS, theology is akin to math facts; where 2 + 2 always equals 4, theology is factual and does not change. Thus, if a theological doctrine were true in 1982, it remains true in 2019.