A gay man said that he was asked to leave his Philadelphia church after he began participating in LGBT activism.

Andrew Stahler told CityPaper that Circle of Hope church seemed to be accepting of his sexual orientation until he started speaking about it publicly.

Stahler said that he was drawn to the church because "they had a social-justice message and that they had a conscience."

He even told prayer group leader Jonny Rashid that he was gay when they first met. But things began to change after Center City’s annual OutFest in 2009, when Stahler asked why Circle of Hope had not been included in a list of LGBT-friendly chruches.

"We do not want to be divided up by gay political activism," church founder and senior pastor Rod White wrote Stahler in an email, suggesting that speaking out about homosexuality meant that he was not truly devoted to Circle of Hope.

“You are not in covenant with us,” White added. “Certainly not enough to resist promoting a divisive issue we have been successful at avoiding, so far.”

Stahler said that Rashid later met with him and gave him the option to stop discussing homosexuality or to leave the church.

“Circle of Hope does a lot of good things," Stahler pointed out. "That’s not the issue. The issue is that the ends don’t justify the means when you exclude or ignore whole communities of people.”

[Preacher holding Bible via Shutterstock]