Members of the Finnish Evangelical Lutherans are continuing to quit their churches en masse after a group of religious hardliners launched a campaign encouraging gays, lesbians and bisexuals to turn straight.

The Don’t Acquiesce campaign features a video in which a woman claims to have switched from being bisexual to heterosexual and says that if murderers can be rehabilitated, so can homosexuals.

In Finland, churches are funded by the taxpayer based on the number of members they have. People are confirmed in their religion at birth. In recent years there has been a campaign to encourage people to resign from the church — and so far nearly 300,000 people have done so.

The Resign From The Church website reports massive spikes in the number of people quitting whenever Christian politicians or organisations make homophobic statements. The day after the Don’t Acquiesce campaign became public, 1800 people resigned from the church when on a normal day only 50 would have done so.

“You are a valuable person, created by God as a whole exactly as you are. You have the right to love, closeness, and warmth. You are not a criminal, sick, or sinful in any way because of your identity,” Archbishop Kari Mäkinen of the largely progressive Evangelical Lutheran Church said to reassure Finnish gays in the wake of the campaign.

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