Local government, police and community investors have distanced themselves from Frontline Church in Liverpool, England, after details of its “gay conversion” ministry were publicized.
In July, I wrote for The Guardian‘s Comment is free about Liverpool LIFE ministry, a group patterned after LIFE NYC, an extreme, anti-gay organization founded by Joanne Highley.
Although Frontline’s defenders are quick to claim they’re only following traditional Christian teaching, Joanne Highley’s teaching goes far beyond the “orthodox” Christian view of homosexuality. Among other things, she believes and practices casting demons out of any bodily orifice that has been penetrated and received an “ungodly deposit of semen.” For Highley, gay sexual orientation in itself is sinful, and it’s something that can be completely cured through prayer, exorcism and dealing with the emotional wounds that supposedly caused it in the first place. She tells her clients to cut off all gay friends completely, as they were never true friends in the first place.
Frontline Church has said it doesn’t follow all of Highley’s teachings, but it has not explained why it made and retains such close ties with an obvious extremist.
The church’s allies in the community are evidently not impressed by the revelation of Frontline’s ex-gay ministry. According to the Liverpool Echo, Merseyside Police has asked the church to stop referring to the regional police force as an “official partner.” Housing association Plus Dane has pulled funding from the church’s Food Bank. And Liverpool Council has said it “would not fund an organisation or its activities where they contradicted our equalities and cohesion policy in the way alleged in this case.”
The story has also been picked up by national newspapers The Daily Telegraph and The Daily Mail. Also, check out Ex-Gay Watch’s previous coverage of the backstory on Liverpool Frontline Church’s promise of a gay cure.
Correction (11/17/11): The original article incorrectly stated Plus Dane would continue to fund the church’s Food Bank. Plus Dane has, in fact, withdrawn all funding from Frontline.