“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.
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.
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