The Frontline Church of Liverpool, England, has been condemned for offering a service to cure homosexuality that it says has helped to reorient some of its members.
The Church, which describes itself as a non-denominational Christian church which is part of the Evangelical Alliance, is based in a former army barracks in Wavertree and has an average congregation of between 800 and 1,000 people. While its work with the homeless has been praised, its “Dark Ages” approach to gay people has been widely criticized by LGBT rights groups.
Of particular objection has been the Church’s “Homosexuality Fact Sheet”, a leaflet which offers guidance on how a concerned devotee might spot someone struggling with homosexuality. The fact sheet, now gone from the Frontline Church website though it can be seen in its entirety here, says the Church “does not believe that people are born homosexual but that it is the result of dealing with pain from childhood.”
The fact sheet then explains, “Homosexual relationships are characterised by emotional dependency. An all consuming, unhealthy attachment is made with the other person.” Arrogantly, the section continues: “The relationship is not based on love but on finding security in another person.”
The Frontline Church “Homosexuality Fact Sheet” then offers a series of ways one might spot “someone struggling with homosexuality.”
Lest you think that Frontline is actually trying to cure adolescence, the fact sheet adds (emphasis theirs):
The fact sheet goes on to offer advice on how to help a someone “struggling” with homosexuality, warning readers that they should not try and “deliver a ‘demon’ of homosexuality out of the person” — which in most circles would not need to be said — but instead that they should talk to that person, listen to them and then if further help is wanted, direct them to L.I.F.E. counselling which, as mentioned above, they say has a considerable success rate and that, based on earlier statements, could apparently offer complete reorientation within two to three years.
The comment about demonic possession is interesting however. Frontline Church leaders have said they have a “positive, ongoing friendship” with their founders over at the American L.I.F.E. Ministry. Leader of L.I.F.E. Joanne Highley once said in an interview (click for video), “Why wouldn’t it be reasonable that if people crawl around on the floor of bars and have homosexual sex, that they would pick up demonic powers?” She has also claimed to exorcise people’s genitals and anal canals to rid them of demonic powers. While Frontline admits it adapts L.I.F.E. materials, they are quick to point out they are not officially affiliated and that L.I.F.E. has no direct influence over Frontline. There is at present no suggestion that Frontline itself has ever engaged in the above practices. Still, even a friendly association is enough to give pause.
According to reports, Frontline received Home Office funds in 2010 to run projects helping at risk youths. Its staff have also enjoyed a visit from Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy PM Nick Clegg who were there to discuss Liverpool’s grassroots issues.
Following earlier revelations about Frontline’s attitude to gay people, several organizations previously linked to the Frontline were quick to distance themselves. With this fresh wave of media attention have come similar remarks.
Liverpool council, which is listed on the Church’s accounts as a ‘donor’, said it had not funded any activities for five years.
A spokesman added: “We would not fund an organisation or its activities where they contradicted our equalities and cohesion policy in the way alleged in this case.”
Council Liberal group leader Cllr Steve Radford said: “I think it would be entirely inappropriate to fund them just as it would be to fund fundamentalists of any faith”
A spokesman for Merseyside Police, which in recent years was voted Second Most Gay Friendly Force in the UK and holds neighbourhood meetings in the Church, said: “We would not regard any church as an ‘official partner’ and the religious beliefs of the churches whose buildings we use are entirely separate to and independent of the views and policies of Merseyside Police.”
A number of local charities who have in the past used the church’s facilities have also been keen to show they are do not condone the Church’s practices.
Frontline Church leaders have strongly rejected allegations of homophobia, saying in a statement that while they accept that the “Homosexuality Fact Sheet” is “simplistic” they would defend themselves by pointing out that they are not forcing anyone to change or take up the therapy service they offer to church goers.
Next Page: Read Frontline Church’s statement.
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