The campaign to ban conversion therapy: whipping up fears about Christians

4, February 2023

Last month, Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle was forced to apologise for comments made to Tory MP Miriam Cates, after shouting at her in the House of Commons.

Anyone familiar with the story will immediately note that the apology was for ‘the mistaken tone’ of his comments, not what he actually said. That is very unfortunate. Cates was describing her experience of feeling vulnerable in a female bathroom when confronted by a man. Russell-Moyle’s accusation that it was a ‘transphobic dog whistle speech’ was undoubtedly inappropriate and wrong.

The decision to rebrand genuine fears and concerns as ‘transphobia’ is reprehensible. It is an accusation many Christians will be very aware of. There are many reasons to worry about the effects of transgender ideology on our society, and expressing them does not mean we are hate-filled or slyly planning to abuse LGBT people.

Red flags

Another curious story last month was of American minor celebrity Joshua Bassett. He’s from High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, though apparently part of his celebrity comes from his high-profile girlfriends. I’ll confess to not having heard of any of them. But one tweet claiming “Jesus is the only way” was enough to cause a string of celeb-gossip press articles about how fans feared he’s been through ‘conversion therapy’.

Immediately assuming someone has been abused by Christians is a very strange reaction to someone proclaiming a religious belief. Bassett’s fairly recent declaration that he is bisexual may have something to do with it. That led to his out-of-the-blue comment about his faith being described as a red flag by some of his young fans.

I don’t know much about Bassett’s beliefs. But my instinct is that his young fans are mixing up ‘conversion’ and ‘conversion-therapy’, exactly like LGBT activists are inclined to do. It is a result of fearmongering over what Christians believe, and a wilful misrepresentation of what the Bible teaches.

Conversion therapy bans: designed to criminalise Christians

Whipping up fears over ordinary beliefs is not a new phenomenon. There were numerous rumours spread in the early centuries of Christianity which sought to discredit the young movement. Whether it was communion being described as orgies (‘love feasts’) or cannibalism (‘the body and blood’), there were plenty of options to falsely raise moral panic and outrage.

Today it is not only Christians who find themselves at the mercy of this misinformation campaign. Those pressing for LGBT ideology to be the social norm are very willing to attack anyone who disagrees with its ideals. The majority of the public has some concern over transgenderism going ‘too far’, but many fear the tirade of abuse they could receive if, like Miriam Cates, they dare to speak out.

But it is still Christians that are viewed with most suspicion. It is essential – say the leading proponents of a conversion therapy ban – that religious practices are outlawed, including even ‘private prayer’ and ‘casual conversations’. Those who express concerns that this sort of legislation will catch out innocent Christians are met with: “Yes, that’s the point of banning conversion therapy”.

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