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British Church Trying to Cure Gays Thinks It’s Doing Nothing Wrong

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Below is an excerpt from the Frontline Church’s statement (available in full at the Liverpool Echo):

“WE are unequivocally not homophobic. Firstly, none of our services (church and projects) discriminate against anyone on any basis and we are unconditional in offering support to all service users.

“We respect everyone’s right to hold their own views and don’t ask service users to adhere to our Christian values or even ask project users what their views are. All are welcome to our Sunday services whoever they are.

“We agree that the Fact Sheet is somewhat simplistic and could lead to prejudicial stereotyping if taken wrongly, and that is the last thing we want. That is why the Fact Sheet has not been on our website for some time and we took it down because we did not feel it was a constructive reflection of such a complex issue. The Fact Sheet was written under the auspices of a staff member some years ago and he has subsequently left.

“Liverpool L.I.F.E. Ministry is an internal pastoral support group for Frontline Church members who have requested extra support around their own sexuality.

“Our views on homosexuality as a church leadership are in line with Evangelical Alliance of which Frontline is part and which represents more than 2m Christians in the UK. We adhere to standard orthodox Christian teaching within the church and our heart on this matter, as with all others, is to let our members decide what their own views are.

Letting church goers decide what their own views are on this subject sounds like the height of deference to democratic and enlightened thinking and neatly sidesteps the Church’s responsibility to represent truth. In reality the Church is using at least two assumptions and making them out to be facts when they are actually nothing more than unsupported opinions.

The Church is making a claim to fact, whether through its now defunct fact sheet or by virtue of offering reorientation therapy, that homosexuality can be cured. This is an assertion not supported by the mainstream medical community. Reorientation therapy, medical practitioners have found, is unnecessary, largely impotent, and potentially harmful.

A 2010 position statement from the British Royal College of Psychiatrists(.pdf) states:

The Royal College of Psychiatrists holds the view that lesbian, gay and bisexual people are and should be regarded as valued members of society who have exactly similar rights and responsibilities as all other citizens.

This includes equal access to healthcare, the rights and responsibilities involved in a civil partnership, the rights and responsibilities involved in procreating and bringing up children, freedom to practise a religion as a lay person or religious leader, freedom from harassment or discrimination in any sphere and a right to protection from therapies that are potentially damaging, particularly those that purport to change sexual orientation.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists believes strongly in evidence-based treatment. There is no sound scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed. Furthermore, so-called treatments of homosexuality create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination flourish.There is now a large body of research evidence that indicates that being gay, lesbian or bisexual is compatible with normal mental health and social adjustment.

This is just one among numerous statements on the apparent immutability of sexual orientation and a lack of supported data on sexual orientation change efforts (for other examples see recent APA and  ACA statements).

Frontline’s assumption that gay people need to be cured, pointed to in its so-called fact sheet, is based on their belief that homosexuality is disordered, that it is a sin. This is another, albeit more subtle, claim to fact made without objective support. Nevertheless the Church as a religious and self-ordained moral authority advances this proposition to a congregation who have faith that what they are being told is divinely inspired and as such should be accepted. In particular, for someone within that community coping with extreme distress regarding their sexual orientation, the promise of a cure through prayer and pastoral care would be especially seductive.

But this skirts reality: such false cures are to remedy anguish that is brought about, in large part, by religious condemnation itself. It is a nefarious self-perpetuating machine.

That the Church attempts to hide behind its assertion that it is not forcing anyone into its therapy program ignores so much, not least of which is the Church’s duty to care for those it serves.

That Frontline Church leaders also feel they are doing nothing wrong in offering such therapy is not only ethically damnable, it is the very definition of hubris that they should believe they know better than medically trained professionals who have a wealth of cumulative knowledge and tried and tested skill.

Related Reading:

Authors: We Won’t Straighten Out Gay Characters for Sales

U.S. Anti-Gay Legal Group Intervening in UK Cases

Did Bachmann Try to Pass a Law Protecting Ex-Gay Therapy?

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67 comments

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10:52AM PST on Dec 4, 2011

I find it very sad that people who profess to follow the man who taught, above all else, the meaning and importance of LOVE, should be taking a stance that shows anything but love. What are they so afraid of?
Thank you, Steve, for bringing this to our attention and stimulating such interesting debate.
In reply to Thom L I have to say that anything that encourages acceptance, understanding and greater compassion in our word - as so many of Steve's posts do - can by no stretch of the imagination be called a "molehill". And to the people who are subjected to the kind of hatred and intolerance described in Steve's article the issue is perhaps even more than just a "mountain" - it's a hurtful, undermining, destructive attitude. I can only hope that you will have someone like Steve on your side if ever you need support and encouragement over any matter in your life

11:53AM PST on Nov 24, 2011

Although I'm an atheist and don't have nothing to do with the church but they point out some interesting stuff that I would have not expected them to say. "These include:

Spends an inordinate amount of time with one particular person.
Puts much less effort into other relationships.
Has feelings of jealousy and rejection when x spends time with other friends
Has underlying low self-esteem
Feels different to other people"

They are quite true in an amount . Anybody will say anything in order the get stuff as they want. How about the right to murder? That would be the case for KKK and others... but let's be honest. It's all about some leaders that seek power and take sides or influence others for their benefit. I have nothing against gays (although I really don't find it ok to change your sex...) but we should not forget that we are animals and we are trying to tame ourselves like the circus does.

2:07AM PST on Nov 20, 2011

At first I thought I was reading about some church in Texas or Arkansas, but to my surprise it was in England. I didn't know that such evangelical Christian lunacy had reached that far from our shores. Crazy ideas like this have hurt so many people and continue to cause so much pain. People are born gay, just as they are born straight. Sexual preference is not a choice and anyone that thinks that way is either very ignorant or brainwashed by some crazy fundamentalist religion. No matter which one it is. Fortunately this kind of thinking is not as common as it once was and I have hope we are making progress. In the meantime, churches like this will continue to ruin lives and somehow think they are saving them.

11:38PM PST on Nov 19, 2011

Well, Roger,

If you follow C2C, you will notice a pattern of denigrating Christians and Christianity, while letting Islam off scott-free, UNLESS READERS POINT OUT THE DOUBLE STANDARDS.

Then perhaps a C2C writer here or there will write a story about a relatively small thing the Muslims do that are bad and the VICTIMS ARE ALWAYS MUSLIM (and ignore the widespread, large-scale horrible things that are done to non-Muslims).

So, in the hope of trying to get some sense of the real disparity between how Christians deal with things like LGBT problems (albeit flawed) versus how Islam deals with it, which is usually FATALLY, I bring this up. And I will continue to do so, because Care2's editorial policy is very dishonest.

I hope that helps answer the question.

11:01PM PST on Nov 19, 2011

And while we're about it.....

Holly, are you referring to the War of Independence? Only I fail to see the connection between a loony Christian church in Liverpool, which virtually none of us British people would endorse, and a war from hundreds of years ago.

Perhaps you could enlighten us?

10:55PM PST on Nov 19, 2011

What do Muslims have to do with this story, Beth? This concerns a Christian church.

10:48PM PST on Nov 19, 2011

It's a stupid idea, but it sure beat HANGING and STONING GAYS TO DEATH LIKE THE MUSLIMS DO!

12:59PM PST on Nov 19, 2011

Heartbreaking. Always makes me think they are struggling with their own gender identity and feelings

4:38AM PST on Nov 19, 2011

The truth of the matter is that the church is doing nothing right.

11:51AM PST on Nov 18, 2011

And England wonders WHY we won the war against them????

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