The Lepers Among Us: Conference Addresses ‘Same-Sex Sin,’ Brings NARTH Gay Cure Message to UK
A conference taking place in Belfast, Northern Ireland, today offers ways for conservative Christian churches to minister to “the lepers among us” — namely, gays and lesbians, or those who “struggle with same-sex sins.”
Astonishingly, Core Issues, which organized it and an identical conference taking place in London, England, tomorrow [correction: next week], failed to foresee the offence the “leper” label would cause.
A press release issued yesterday said:
The conference organisers recognise that the event’s title “The Lepers Among Us” has caused some misunderstanding, being taken as a call for the church to treat LGBT people in the way that lepers were treated by society in biblical times – shunned and regarded as untouchable. In fact the intention is the opposite. This conference criticises the church for behaving in this very way – treating LGBT people as “outcasts” – and calls upon it to help end prejudice wherever it is found, especially within the church.
So what can we expect of a conference organized by Core Issues? Their dubious choice of speakers in the past, including Lesley Pilkington, David Pickup and Arthur “Abba” Goldberg, of JONAH, shows a strong identification with the type of anti-gay, ex-gay conservatism promoted by NARTH in the US.
Core Issues Trust’s claim that it does not offer conversion therapy is somewhat disingenuous, for while it doesn’t directly offer therapy at all, it clearly stands for the NARTH approach. The homepage currently links directly to an article by David Pickup promoting “authentic reparative therapy” and decrying Exodus International for rejecting it. To support its claim that gay orientation is unnatural, the Core Issues website links approvingly to a PFOX article labelling homosexuality a “public health crisis” and citing the discredited “gays die at 41” claim. The science section of its websites offers links to articles by Neil Whitehead and Jeffrey Satinover, both of NARTH. The latter is a Core Issues board member.
Core Issues promotes a “compassionate” approach to the “same-sex attracted,” but ultimately its message to gay Christians is that they need healing, and it is clear that by “healing,” they mean healing NARTH-style:
There is a growing body of research evidence indicating that sexual preference is neither immutable, innate nor chosen. As a consequence of our basic sinfulness we all have desires that we do not choose to have but we do have choices with respect to what we do about them. As a consequence our sexual identity can be reinforced or altered by either gender-affirming or gay-affirming lifestyles or therapies. CORE works with people who voluntarily seek to change from a “gay” lifestyle to a gender-affirming one. This is sometimes referred to as a “sexual re-orientation” process.
Merely abstaining from homosexual activity, although admirable, cannot be regarded as healing. Heterosexual preference is the goal of gender-affirming therapy and this may lead to marriage. However there will always be those who choose to remain celibate and single. Such singleness should be valued and respected.
Mike Davidson is one of the co-directors of Core Issues. Here are his words on BBC Television in 2009:
Davidson is clearly not in an ideal situation; it was presumably the kind of conflict that he describes that led to his marrying a woman in the first place. But his way of dealing with the fait accompli is an honourable one, which I can respect. What I will not, cannot and should not respect are his objectives of dissuading other gay men from forming relationships in accordance with their natural orientation, of encouraging in them the kind of conflicts from which he himself suffers, and even of luring them, by means of a bogus therapy, into precisely the same kind of predicament as that in which he finds himself.
I know that these people think they’re being compassionate by taking pity on us poor spiritual lepers, but they’re so wrong in so many ways.
1. This isn’t 1982. We’re not as a whole wandering the Streets of Life alone hoping to find love, companionship and acceptance in hopeless places.
2. We’re not so starved for affection and affirmation that we’ll take the tiny scraps people like these are willing to give us.
3. We, Queers, actually have a diverse, supportive, and increasingly widespread community, which includes straight allies. THEY are the ones who give us the affirmation and affection we deserve.
I know they’ll be able to dupe some, but they are honestly SO behind on the times
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has written on this, from his latest book –
“This is a matter of ordinary justice. We struggled against apartheid in South Africa, supported by people the world over, because black people were being blamed and made to suffer for something we could do nothing about – our very skin. It is the same with sexual orientation. It is a given. I could not have fought against the discrimination of apartheid and not also fight against the discrimination that homosexuals endure, even in our churches and faith groups.” (page 54)
“Equally, I cannot keep quiet while people are being penalized for something about which they can do nothing – their sexuality. To discriminate against our sisters and brothers who are lesbian or gay on grounds of their sexual orientation for me is as totally unacceptable and unjust as apartheid ever was.” (page 55)
Strong words from a great man who has fought against apartheid.
There’s nothing astonishing about this. About 3 people deliberately chose to take offense. 99.9999% of gay people in Belfast had no idea this conference was happening.
Blessed are they.
“There is growing body of research evidence that sexual preference is neither immutable, innate or chosen.”
So again with the meme that we have desires we might not choose, but we can choose not to indulge them.
1. WHAT growing body of research says this? I’m pretty certain that it’s a non existent body of RECENT research that says that at all.
2. Even those committed to a faith principle refuse to differentiate religious sins, from moral ones. And in a conversation on socio/political inclusion and responsibility, they are especially wrongful in conflating all of these. As if they aren’t inextricable or have been among other so called religious sinners.
3. Which brings me to the point about religious freedom, as opposed to religious authority. These orgs want governmental religious authority over gay people alone, while heterosexuals enjoy living without religious authority governing THEIR lives.
The definition of religious sins, have evolved, no longer apply are up to the individual to discipline themselves against and changed with human progress. Especially human progress in social justice and equality. MORAL sins, never change. These have to do with how one person treats another. Or the most vulnerable and different among them, and so on.
I keep this in the forefront of any conversations on how the average religious sinner, isn’t denied their civil equality and recognition on condition of whether or not he’s committing those religious sins.
These conditions against gay people, work on such superficial and irrationally biased terms on gender, it’s remarkable that in the 21st century, GENDER is still a moral argument at all.
The recent nasty assault (spitting on her) on a young girl in Israel by ultra Orthodox Jewish men (regarding her supposed immodest dress), and how the other more intense assaults against females in fundamentally Islamic cultures, keep maintaining females in a primitively enforced social hierarchy, speaks to seriously barbaric and archaic principles about social order.
I just don’t know how any of these people keep believing that behaving in such a brutal manner, entitles them to be the arbiters of what civilized society is. Religious control freaks inevitably make hypocrites of themselves.
Well if Core I. and the others involved want to stick to empirical data, then I am afraid we have a huge problem. Firstly, the preponderance of the available empirical data, not to mention plentiful human life stories researchers classify as anecdotal, supports the working conclusion that basic core inner sexual orientation is stable enough to function as a durable part of personality, established in most people from a very young age, possibly including prenatal influences. Secondly, if we are going to empirically test things, then the companion claim that not being exclusively heterosexual is presumptively disordered is strongly disconfirmed. Sexual orientation variance in humans is not a disorder in itself; nor the necessary and sufficient cause of any other human disorder. Thirdly, various exgay programs and services clearly engage in core ethical violations of many different, applicable professional codes … including but not limited to, … informed consent procedures, ethics governing experimental treatments or services, highly unprofessional and mean-spirited blaming when sexual orientation does not significantly change (generally for at least two-thirds of large sample participants, if not even more), and ethical-professional abandonment of any and all former participants who leave programs/services in mild to severe clinical distress. Some high profile doctors at the turn of the nineteenth century applied carbolic acid to children’s genitals as a sure cure for masturbation, also then claimed to be a disease that caused other diseases. It was fakery then, and exgay therapies are fakery now. We have little empirical data as yet about the possible covert or hidden influences of a spouse/parent who is so determined to play straight … whether upon the spouse or his/her children. Covering up and never verbalizing one’s own ‘struggles with same sex attractions’ may seem like a handy strategy, and nevetheless, perceptive spouse and/or children may still feel what is so constantly going on, even without putting those hidden parts of family life into words. The whole business of pretending to be straight when you are not is fraught with risks for everybody involved or affected, to various degrees. Alas. Lord have mercy.
Joe, the second sentence pretty much explains the first, no? And it also demonstrates the reason for reporting on it. This kind of error only survives when it stays in darkness — shining a light on it is imperative.
DrDan – that even one third experience significant is not upheld by any credible evidence. I am sure you have Timothy Kincaid on Jones/Yarhouse longitudtinal study. Basically, if you squnit hard enough, you’ll see a small % you report singificant change – some of that is retrospective surveying. There is so little actual prospective data as to be meaningless. Case Not Proven.
One correction – the London leg of this sham(e) conference is on 27th/28th Jan.
To dig even deeper into the Jones and Yarhouse study, check out our original 3-part critique by Patrick M. Chapman, PhD. If you search on Dr. Chapman’s name, you will also find further debate between he and Yarhouse over the critique.
Thanks David. I’ve read that and Box Turtle Bulletin/Kincaid review.
I am intending to protest a religious conference in London involving a group in Ireland still serving the Narth reparative therapy narrative. A Dr. Jim Reynolds from Pepperdine University will be speaking.
Listen to this BBC radio report on Mike Davidson and his Lepers conference. Full of revelations. Mike Davidson is challenged on air (scroll in 30 mins) by the chair of the therapy professional body he says accredits his work. Devastating.
@JaneG , thanks for the heads-up. Please provide a real email address in future — it won’t be made public.
@JaneG Thank you for that, JaneG. It’s quite a long discussion, but it’s certainly well worth listening to. It’s only available for four more days, so anyone who wants to hear it should get going pretty sharpish.
I notice that Jim Reynolds and Mike Davidson predictably fall back on the old red herring of people’s right to change their sexual orientation if they want to. I would affirm that right up to the hilt, but the right to do something, no matter how cast-iron in principle, really isn’t a lot of use if you can’t in fact do it.
Well, exactly William.
A person can’t choose to be gay in peace. There is no allowance to be gay without fear of major reprisals, including threat of violent death, then what choice is there really?
When there is no choice to be GAY, and live gay with those around you respecting and accepting that choice, and instead, constantly suspect and want to punish you for the ‘choice’ you made to be gay, then you didn’t have a choice at all.
The following is also relevant:
An interesting account of the “gay leper” conference in London can be found here: