Conversion at “the very heart of the Christian faith”
There is a “specific agenda” among some pressing for a ‘conversion therapy’ ban, “which does appear to be particularly against the Christian faith and the Christian church”.
That’s what Revd Dr William Philip of Tron Church Glasgow told the Let Us Pray campaign in a recent interview:
“I think that is reflected in the use of this terminology of 'conversion therapy’,” he said, since ‘conversion’ is such an important and common word within Christianity: “it’s the common word that Christians use in their parlance to talk about becoming a Christian”.
‘Conversion therapy’ is a deliberately broad term, chosen by LGBT activists, to refer to efforts to change a person’s sexual behaviour or ‘orientation’, or to change someone’s ‘gender identity’ or ‘gender expression’.
It can refer to practices ranging from abusive electroshock experiments that took place fifty years ago, to people praying alone for themselves. Any genuinely harmful and abusive practices have long been outlawed, and so it seems likely that any expansion of the law will criminalise innocent activity, including the ordinary work of churches.
Many activists have said they want to see prayer, preaching, pastoral care and Christian parenting restricted. Leader of the UK-wide Ban Conversion Therapy campaign, Jayne Ozanne, infamously said “gentle, non-coercive prayer” should be covered. And LGBT campaign group ‘The Trevor Project’ said ‘conversion therapy’ includes “teachings pulled from religious texts, prayer, spiritual discipline”.
“That’s what conversion is”
Reflecting on the attempts to bring in such a ban in Scotland, Revd Dr Philip said: “No Christian person wants anybody to be persecuted, to be coerced, to be treated badly, to be tortured or any such thing”.
But, he explained: “when you ban this language of conversion, there does appear to be in there, I’m afraid, a desire to suppress or to cast aspersions, on the very nature of the Christian faith”.
“Every single time as a Christian pastor, I proclaim the Gospel, I’m calling people to repentance and faith. Christians live a life of daily repentance and faith, but we call those who are not yet Christians to repent and to believe. That’s what conversion is.”
“It’s coming into line with the truth of God in Jesus Christ. That is the very heart of the Christian faith.”
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