A group called "Faith in America" will hold a public meeting in Ames later this month as part of its national campaign to counter religious leaders that call homosexuality a sin.

Jimmy Creech, executive director of the group, was a Methodist minister for 29 years. "It is really an offense against religion to misuse it in the name of bigotry and fear and ignorance," Creech says.

Creech was defrocked by the Methodist church ten years ago after he performed a "covenant ceremony" for two women at his former church in Omaha. "Throughout history religion has been misused to justify slavery…and segregation, to justify the denial of women their right to vote," Creech says. "…When people understand how religion has been misused in this way to form public policy, to create cultural and social attitudes that stigmatize people, they begin to see what’s happening today against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in a new way."

Mitchell Gold, a North Carolina businessman who is gay, founded "Faith in America" two years ago. "Faith in America is educating Americans, be they fundamentalists or simply apathetic, that using their…biblical interpretations to justify legalized discrimination or lack of protections for any American is just plain wrong," Gold says.

The group will take its campaign to other cities in states which host the opening events of the 2008 presidential nominating season to try to influence the campaign debate. "For the past six years fundamentalist Christians have attacked the gay community through the Republican Party and the Democrats have not done such a good job defending my rights," Gold says. "Enough is enough."

The group plans to send direct mail to Iowans and this Sunday it plans to run an ad in the Ames Tribune denouncing discrimination against gay people.